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Shifter Safe Haven S6

SCENE SIX

“You clawed my fucking boots. My favorite boots!”

“Whatever. You have like fifty of them.”

“I have one favorite pair. One! I know you did it on purpose, Dane. This is because your crybaby brother had another hissy and you just have to stick your nose in everything. Stop fucking with my stuff!”

A slam vibrated loudly through the wall and cut off the arguing voices. Zander’s eyes flew open and he gasped. He jolted upright with yellow eyes wide in fear as he looked around the unfamiliar room. It was bright. Really bright. Sunlight streamed in through softly curtained windows and illuminated the bedroom in light and warmth. Another bed sat on the other side of the room covered in a bright pink and purple bedspread. The wall was littered with posters of rock stars with crazily dyed hair and tight, black clothes.

Zander’s gaze drifted down and the world took on a surreal edge. He was covered in a blue bedspread, but more alarming were the clothes he was in. He couldn’t remember the last time he wore clothes.

The room tipped drunkenly the longer Zander stared unseeing at the plain bedspread. For a lost moment he was in his own bedroom with the sounds of his mother making breakfast clinking in the air. The light was dimmer and slanted from the other direction where the windows used to be. Zander squeezed his eyes shut but it only made everything worse. Reality slipped away completely and was replaced with a dizzying echo of life long gone and never to return.

Zander squinted his eyes open and edged sideways. He slid down the side of the bed until he was on the hardwood floor and the mattress was flush against his back like a shield. He took five steadying breaths and then allowed his brain to try and figure out where he was. He couldn’t smell anything familiar, not a thing. He wasn’t in the cage. He wasn’t even locked in a room.

Zander’s mind drifted and he pulled at shadowy threads of memory. There was a man, a sorcerer. A wolf shifter. A door. He stepped through a door that led outside into a world he didn’t know anymore.

He was outside. He was outside the Rothtons’.

His breath came out in frightened gasps as Zander grasped his bent knees and dug fingernails into the flesh beneath the new pajamas. He needed the world to make sense and pain worked better than his frantic thoughts. Zander’s hands shook from their painful grip and his knuckles turned white from the strain. Eventually, the fear began to abate.

The floor was hard beneath his butt and bare feet, and warm from the sunlight streaming in the windows. Zander closed his eyes as his muscles slowly unfurled and unclenched. He ran trembling fingers through his hair and his eyebrows furrowed when he noticed how sleek and clean the locks felt. He paused and turned his hand to catch the hot rays of light dappled around him.

Sunlight. When was the last time he saw the sun? The Rothtons always kept the blinds shut even though Zander was never allowed out of the cage until night.

“Damn it, Dane, I’m going to fucking kill you!”

“Ha! Maybe if you weren’t wearing those stupid heels all the time, idiot!”

Zander started at the renewed yelling and peered between his fingers where the door was ajar on the other side of the bed. He couldn’t see it fully from his place on the floor, which he was perfectly fine with. It meant whoever was out there wouldn’t see him either. Zander took another nervous look around the room while he chewed on two of his fingers, oblivious when they became soaked with saliva.

He was in a bedroom, a really normal looking bedroom. It was big enough to fit two beds with lots of room in between. There was a closet on the furthest wall and the slider door was open to reveal it was stuffed with clothes. A bureau was on the perpendicular wall with a large mirror in the middle of the towering piece of furniture. Although one side of the bureau was clear, it looked like it was done hastily because there were bottles of things knocked over and a pool of what he could only guess was dry glitter nail polish.

Zander’s gaze was drawn to the other bed where a pile of mostly black leather boots could be seen in the gap between floor and box spring. He bent down and pressed his face to the smooth floor so he could get a better look underneath the bed. There were a lot of shoes. He didn’t think he mom ever had so many shoes.

From his new position, Zander let his eyes wander as he listened intently to the bickering voices. They were right outside the door, and they were only getting louder as footsteps creaked heavily on an unseen stairway.

“Breakfast,” a voice of utter patience called. Zander blinked and turned his head as he tried to place the confusingly familiar sound.

“I’m not hungry. Edward, Dane ruined my boots! The ones with the great heel!”

Someone sighed. Zander peered at the crack of the door where he could see a pair of nicely fitted slacks and the socked feet of Edward. “Bring them downstairs and Clive will repair them when he has a moment. Dane, if you could kindly collect your brothers for breakfast, we might actually be able to leave on time for once.”

“Wait, aren’t you going to punish him? You’re not seriously going to let him get away with…?”

“Mika, did you see Dane claw your boots?”

Mika huffed loudly. “I know he did it. He didn’t even deny it! Edward, come on, I know he…”

“You know the rules. Unless there’s proof, I can’t interfere. There are three cats of the same size who run around here, all of who have been known to claws things.”

“Then punish all of them,” Mika snapped vindictively. “I wouldn’t be surprised if his brothers helped.”

“Breakfast,” Edward repeated, this time as an order. “Dane, let me make it clear we have a new guest and going into anyone’s room—proven or not—is not acceptable without the occupants’ permission.”

“I didn’t… Oh.”

Zander held his breath and tensed when the dark form blocking the door moved. The door creaked as it swung open. Zander quickly squeezed his eyes shut and tried to disappear. It was dumb—he knew it was fucking dumb. It was just a bunch of disturbingly normal people on the other side of that door. Logic couldn’t stop Zander’s heart from racing or the sick wave of sweat that broke over his skin when he heard a sharp intake of breath that revealed he was discovered.

“Is he…?”

“Downstairs, the both of you. Now.”

Zander counted the footsteps, hyper-aware when the two previously bickering boys didn’t actually go all the way down the stairs. He wanted to hiss in frustration but didn’t dare. He was glad he kept quiet; Edward’s half familiar scent washed into the room when he pushed the door open completely.

“Zander, I don’t know if you remember me. My name is Edward Varg; we met briefly the other day. You’re in the house of Clive Drowan. You met Clive too; he helped you walk. He’s the sorcerer with the purple tinted glasses who found you. Clive runs a place for shifters in trouble. That’s where you are. You’re in the Haven, Zander. No one is going to hurt you here.”

Zander didn’t dare speak, didn’t dare open his eyes. His heart raced uncontrollably while his entire body shook. He wasn’t sure what was wrong with him but it felt like he was either going to shake apart or pass out. He just wanted to be left alone. The Haven meant nothing to him; it didn’t tell him where he was or who these people were, or most important, what they wanted from him.

The Rothtons always wanted sex when they visited. Once they were done and locked him up again, Zander was able to be alone and no one wanted anything from him then. He wanted to be alone now and not have anyone want anything from him. Fear was a weight on his chest, shoulders and stomach. It was something bigger than him and he couldn’t overcome it, just be crushed beneath.

Edward shifted from one foot to the other and Zander braced himself. Still, the man didn’t cross the threshold of the doorway. “Zander, I’m going downstairs now. It’s time for breakfast and we all eat together. We’re like a big family here. You’re more than welcome to join us when you’re feeling better. You don’t have to say a word. You don’t have to do a thing, okay?”

Edward paused, clearly waiting for some sort of response. The silence filled in with the sound of Zander’s pulse pounding in his head from his frozen spot on the floor. Even if he could think of something proper to say, there was no way his throat would let the words out.

“I’m going to leave the door open a crack,” Edward eventually said. “You can shut it if that’s what you need to feel safe right now. We’ll be downstairs if you need anything.”

Zander swallowed the saliva in his mouth but made no other move. Dark colors flashed behind his eyes from how tight he was holding them closed. Edward did indeed shut the door, and Zander jolted when the door hit the molding but didn’t latch. Edward’s footsteps padded to the stairs and three sets of feet slowly creaked down the steps. In less than ten heartbeats, all the sound faded from upstairs.

In the silence that followed, Zander lost a few tears. It was so dumb; nothing he felt at the moment made any fucking sense to the situation. He was scared, lost and didn’t know how to handle any of it. It was too bright in the room. It smelled all wrong, even if it smelled way better than his disgusting cage. Still, the same way he grew used to knowing he was safe when the worst was over, he missed his cage because he knew no one would touch him as long as he was inside.

Zander scrambled across the floor before he even realized he was moving. With a trembling hand, he pushed the door until it latched shut. He sighed in relief and slumped forward so his head rested heavily on the door.

Safe. Safe for now.

He turned and fell back on the door, his chest heaving for breath as he tried to calm his racing heart. At the same time he kept his ears alert for any sign of someone upstairs. It was after he thought he was okay, after he could breath and not feel like he was going to vomit, that he saw his hand and tears blurred his vision. He was so thin. His fingers looked like tree branches, his arm barely any better. He was impossibly pale and his hands wouldn’t stop shaking no matter he tried to steady them on his legs.

This wasn’t human. He wasn’t human anymore, just twisted, and left over, and barely even here.

Zander wrapped his too thin arms around him and clawed at his shirtsleeves as he fought back sobs. He shouldn’t have left. He never should have left his cage. He didn’t know where he was or if these people were trustworthy. There was too much—too much to see, hear, smell, and get lost in and it was all in this one room. There were more rooms outside the door, and even more outside this building. He’d have to go out. He’d have to be unsafe outside without walls or bars or anything to protect him.

What would the Rothtons do once they found out he was gone? Trouble. They’d punish him. Hurt him.

Zander pawed at his face and whimpered when he found his skin wet with tears he didn’t know he was crying. He needed to go back before they realized he left. They couldn’t know. Jasmine and Clark kept him alive; they kept him safe. As long as he was in the cage in the dark room, the world was simple. Terrible and lonely, but at least it was simple.

Zander didn’t know how to survive without the Rothtons. He wasn’t sure he was supposed to continue living without them. He was no one, nothing; the told him all the time. They told him they were the only reason he existed.

They were going to be angry he left. Maybe, they’d be so angry they wouldn’t take him back. Zander hissed and clawed at his too clean hair. Then what? How was he going to keep going if they didn’t take him back?

Zander screamed into his cupped hands. The strangled noise died faster than his ability to breathe. He hid in the dark, palm pressed over his eyes until he saw colors.

He needed to go back. He needed to go back home.

This Really Is My Favorite Time of Year 🍂🌻🍂

Hey babes,

The world is on fire with so many gorgeous colors and change is burning through the air.

It’s been an interesting week. Interesting in the sense I haven’t done much of anything yet I feel like the world has opened up. My health has reached a place where the worst thing that happens to me when I’m hit by the allergies is mild congestion, a little body pain, and a flare of anxiety. That’s it. I don’t see it changing, I don’t see me ever becoming sick like I was the last 4 years, and I spent this week in a limbo as I came to understand that.

My anxiety is not based in reality but in illness. Fear is not real; it lives in the mind. It’s been a mind blowing week, peeps.

I’m trying to figure out how to live life not running from fear—PTSD, illness and never having enough. I have no idea. I’m learning to not identify with the conflict in my life or around me. Someone threw a cup of coffee into my car at my brother who was driving after they cut him off, the Republicans’ passed a budget bill destined to fuck over anyone not filthy rich, and I think I clicked together why my adoption records were sealed after some recovered memories keep popping up. Huge things that could have me cycling in my brain freaking out, arguing with imaginary people as I fight myself. That’s not where I am anymore. I’m very aware that I’m not doing that anymore, that I’m choosing to let go of things, the big ‘me’ where I go, ‘MY car, MY poor brother, MY pain, MY past, MY fear, MINE, MINE, ME!’ That’s not who I am no matter how loud and distracting those things try to be. I’m learning to not be the events and fears in my life—past, current or future—but I’m not sure what that leaves me with.

Why do we do things if we’re not running from pain or trauma? Considering I’ve had PTSD since a toddler, it’s my next journey to discover. What I know for sure is it is so much easier to breathe without that little, hurt voice sucking up all the oxygen as it relives it pain over and over again insisting it’s important. As a writer of books, I know humans define themselves by their conflict. What we ‘overcome’ we decide is who we are. It is so fucking nice to be free of that. I am not my pain or struggle; I get to be something more.

There are things I struggle with needlessly I really want to address this year. Like asking for help. It’s kinda mind boggling when I think all I have done to survive while sick and starting a business and my inability to not only ask for help but also accept it. It’s not a unique problem, either. I know plenty of people who struggle with this. I was unfortunately surrounded by those who would reinforce this idea by treating me and others like shit when we did dare ask for help because they couldn’t face the perceived weakness within they felt when they needed help. I have shed those people from my life years ago, yet the bad software still remains within. I don’t know how to allow myself to have fun. I know how to do things I perceive are ‘important’ or ‘worthy’ or ‘industrious’ or will make money, but I have no idea how to relax and have fun. There’s no one keeping me from it but myself. I am apparently very unyielding when it comes to me while my generosity knows no bounds to the people around me. It is a difficult way to live.

You know what I have been indulging in this week? Pho. There is this amazing little place in Springfield and every time I have enough cash to get a bowl, I feel full of sunshine and happy.

Speaking of Generosity

The death count for Puerto Rico looks like it could be up to 450 as a direct cause to the hurricane. Clean water is still scarce; there is a fear it’s being sourced from contaminated ground water as it is. FEMA is providing a little over 1/2 a million meals a day, meaning more than 3 million people are not eating and may not have been eating since the hurricane hit. If we leave it up to Trump, these people will die. Even if it’s a dollar a week, it’s still something for those who currently have nothing.

Price Cliffs

Totally flaked. So Demon Bonded, every episode will now be $0.99. I’m doing this for every serial episode of all my books. I’m taking a new approach to all this- part of the whole letting fear go- and we’ll see how it goes. Every book that goes wide is going to see a price drop, you know, once I get to it. XD

I think this is how I’m going to deal with the Bargain book thing I used to have on the website. Once a book is out of KU those first 3 months, I want it cheaper. I want to be looking forward and motivating myself to write the next book instead of clinging to the older stuff. I know I’ve been clinging these last months as I try to edit and erase my mold allergy from my writing. I still can’t get over that mental place–I want the books the best they can be– but I can at least make everything more affordable once I do get past my neurotic brain.

I apologize if this is difficult on those who paid full price for these books already. I want to thank you for supporting me – let’s be clear, I seriously need the money. I’m actually going to be setting up a Patreon soon. I need to be willing to let people pay for my books when they can.

Peace, darlings.

~Sadie Sins

Moving In by Karma Kingsley

Rye Winters lives life on his own terms. Even when his family disowned him for dropping out of medical school, he pushed forward for a career path that he loved. Nothing keeps Rye down…except that he’s gay and terrified to tell anyone. It’s the secret that haunts him, suffocating him to exhaustion. But it’s a secret he can’t trust with anyone. That is until Chase Evans. His RoomMatch pairing that changes his life and shows him just how gay he really is.

Chase Evans by most standards is a failure. He’s a failure at writing, a failure at socializing and a failure at love. In hopes of changing his path, he packs his bags and leaves Lexington, Virginia behind. With the help of the RoomMatch App, he finds himself a cheap apartment in Harlem, New York and a charming roommate that helps him to come out of his shell and his comfort zone. But things get wonky when he finds out his roommate may be a little friendlier than he can handle.

 

 

 

Fox Hunt by Zoe Perdita – $0.99

Edward Wilder’s life sucks. At 18, the fox shifter is homeless, trying to care for his baby sister, and since a group of hunter’s maimed him, he can’t even get a normal job. Things can’t get worse—until he witnesses a murder. Now the cops and criminals are on his ass, and he has nowhere to turn. Until Maxwell Strider shows up. Problem is, Max is a hunter, and Edward hates hunters.

Max wouldn’t take in a couple of foxes under normal circumstances. He may only hunt truly dangerous shadow folk, but that doesn’t mean he wants to open his home to a potential enemy. But he owes an old friend a favor, and Edward and the baby, Daisy, need his help.

Protecting Edward should be easy, but the fox wakes a desire Max never knew he possessed. A lust Edward seems to share—if only at night. But can he mend the hurt Edward faced in the past and earn the one thing he’s denied himself—a chance at a family—before it’s too late?

60K book contains: a sexy fox shifter and a too hot to handle hunter, enemies to lovers, graphic gay sex, sporadic violence and HEA.

 

Uncovering The Dragon by Van Cole – $0.99

Sometimes A Fresh Start Brings You Back To Who You Really Are

River Marsh is a young adult set to inherit his family’s century-old business.

But making progress is hard when River’s biggest secret – that he’s a dragon shifter – burns in his conscience. No longer welcome in his hometown, River relocates to Chicago where he works under an aloof boss who shares a similar secret as well as an intense, erotic passion that leaves the young protagonist wanting more.

Storm Woods, CEO of Woods Interior Solutions, has spent his life turning even the ugliest houses into masterpieces. His new, young assistant, River Marsh, possesses a spark that the designer hasn’t encountered in ages.

Unfortunately, professional situations make for sticky scenarios. But Storm, as his name suggests, is as daring as his designs.

 

Intangible 29

Chapter Twenty-Eight

He could have had a place here. This could have been his home. He could have been more than a rutting, sex crazed animal who stepped into the forest a man and never returned again. Except Harry took the ring and Draco was forced to face the fact he was a Vesper halfling. Just like his uncle and all the others who came before who howled in the night lost in a sea of lust. He could have been so much more but only with the ring.

Anger surged through Draco greater than his comprehension. It was a roaring fire that boiled his blood and incinerated the mating call Harry was still twisting inside him. Everyone was trying to rule him from his parents, to Voldemort, to his professors, to the oppressive rules of the wizarding world and now this man—this beautiful, maddening, fucked in the head Harry Potter who thought he could decide his life for him. He thought he could steal his ring, touch him, and pull him with the mating call with wave after crashing wave until he bent to his will? No way in hell.

Draco snarled and reached for his power. He smiled savagely when uncertainty flashed in Harry’s eyes. “Draco…” Light beamed from Draco’s form and Harry was sent crashing back head over heels.

“You fucking dick!” Draco stalked after Harry’s muscular form as he skidded over dirt and fallen Vesper. “You’ve been unconscious for the last goddamn week, you don’t know shit about anything, and you just barge in here, stomp my family flat, and steal my fucking ring? Who the fuck do you think you are, Potter? Have you lost your goddamn mind? Did your scar finally split your skull open and release whatever brains you had left? I’m not your fucking toy! I’m nobody’s toy!”

“Draco, shit, hold on,” Harry gasped. He pushed himself to his feet and stumbled back when Draco surged after him.

Draco grabbed him by the hair and growled as he continued to yell. “I came here to save your miserable life, Potter! I faced my biggest, most terrifying fears to make sure no one killed you. They wanted to; they were going to take you out just at the possibility you might turn into a crazy asshole. And you—you go and prove them right by doing something so irresponsible, so selfish!” Draco twisted his hair hard. “I should have killed you myself!”

“Just calm down. I’m sorry!” Harry yelped and held his hands up in surrender as he tried to crouch away from Draco’s hold. “Draco, you’re getting feathery and it has to hurt with all those scales sprouting and… Shit. Breath, Draco.”

“Stop telling me what to do!” Draco hollered even as he gasped for air. The world spun. Draco groaned loudly, shoved Harry away, and covered his face with newly taloned hands. Fucking Potter. Fucking Potter, he was turning into a dragon slut. Draco shuddered as his back roared fire moments before his tail pushed free and wings shook loose. What remained of his clothing fell around him in a confetti of fabric.

Fuck. Fucking hell, he wasn’t going down like this!

Draco whirled and turned his piercing glare back to Harry. “You let them up right this fucking instant,” he ordered. “Now! And you better not have hurt them, or so help me, I’ll beat you senseless. These are good people. Good!”

He wasn’t sure why Harry was smiling at him. The pain in the ass bastard looked like he was ready to burst out laughing. Still, the pressure lifted with Harry’s nod and the Vesper were free to move. Draco searched the ground and found Matten. He grabbed him by the arm and pulled him up to his feet.

“Are you okay? I’m sorry he did… Why the fuck is everyone smiling at me?” Draco snarled. He pushed the grinning Matten away and took in the multitude of idiotic, sappy smiles the Vesper were directing at him now they were no longer groaning in pain.

Draco’s breath hitched and he bit his lower lip; they looked different. Matten was free of scars and clothes and there was a soft glow to his skin. Scales shimmered over his flesh and feathers peeked free behind sharp ears. He couldn’t help but notice even though he could see Matten’s true form, he wasn’t jumping the man and begging to be fucked. Hell, he wasn’t even laughing crazily anymore.

Draco licked dry lips. Maybe the crazy was from the moments before the transformation and not the final change? Did they get this wrong the same way they misjudged everything else when it came to the Vesper?

“Halfling, you are stunning.” Matten’s voice was full of awe as he stared at Draco. “Even more so in this dimension. Your glow is bright, compelling. You truly are made for us.” There was a daze to his eyes and sheen to his skin which only grew more intense the longer he stared at Draco.

“Matten?” Draco took a step back when Matten was grabbed from behind, spun, and kissed fiercely. Matten growled against Haille’s lips and threaded fingers into his long hair as he grappled him closer. Moans rose up all around them as the Vesper’s fear and pain was replaced by a maddening pulse of need. A worried expression painted Draco’s face as he watched the Vesper become lost in his glow, the men nearly frantic in their need to touch. It was the worst possible time; Harry was still a bastard and he was newly transformed.

“Draco, I’m really, truly sorry.”

Draco snapped his gaze back to his imbecile of a boyfriend and scowled. The stupid fuck. He stalked over to Harry, his hands clenched into fists. “If I have antlers, so help me, Potter, I will run you through with them.”

“I swear you look good.” Harry stumbled back when Draco took a swing at him. “I’m sorry! I lost my shit. I’m still not…”

“You’re not talking your way out of this one, scarhead.” Draco smacked his hands down on Harry’s shoulders. “I’ve been loyal to you. I’ve done everything in my power to protect you. Just because I have sex with others doesn’t mean I feel any different about you. You said it yourself; you knew how I would be around them. It’s who I am, Harry, and you need to… Stop fucking smiling!” Draco yelled and threw his hands up in exasperation.

Harry’s grin grew and he sank to his knees, his eyes never leaving Draco’s angry expression. “You look really good.” He swallowed hard when Draco snarled. “Really, really good. Gorgeous. Fuckable.”

“Are you listening to me?” Draco growled and rolled his eyes when Harry licked his lips and continued to stare up at him. It was ridiculous. He wasn’t even pulling him; Harry was just out of his fucking mind. The entire village had lost it and somehow he was the last sane person alive.

Draco’s tail tapped against his leg for a few silent moments as he contemplated. He planted his hands on his hips and glanced to his nude body to where his platinum silver hair now reached to his waist. He was covered from head to toe in thin, transparent scales and looked more white than anything proper should. He looked bizarre and wasn’t sure if he’d be able to transform back. Bizarre and, well, maybe a little gorgeous and fuckable if he were to go by Harry.

Draco’s nostrils flared when he glanced back and found Harry staring; his green eyes were dazed and that stupid grin was planted on his face. Fucking Potter.

“You want to touch me, Potter?” Draco smirked at the way Harry’s eyes lit up and slid over his nude, scaled body.

“I missed you so much, Draco. I just want to…”

“Too fucking bad,” Draco interrupted flatly, his fangs sharp in response to Harry’s dejected groan. Let the bastard suffer. He had a fucking tail because of his temper tantrum.

“I didn’t mean to do all of this,” Harry insisted. “There’s something fucked up in me and I just… I did a lot of fucked up shit, actually.” Harry sighed as his expression turned thoughtful. He scratched the back of his head and slowly got to his feet. “I just kind of lost it. I couldn’t find you anywhere. Dumbledore was being fucking obnoxious and…” Harry’s gaze trailed up Draco’s body and his breath caught. He took a step forward. “Shit, let me just…”

“No.” Draco raised his chin defiantly even as he twisted the power within him and pulled Harry with his call. He smiled internally as he watched the war move across Harry’s fierce features. Damn, the prat was gorgeous; erratic as a bull and fucking beautiful. “You’re too mean looking and puffy with all that muscle. I don’t like it.”

Harry scowled and glared at his dark hands. His expression softened as he looked up and met Draco’s eyes. “It’s still me. It’s always been me.” He unconsciously rubbed his chest as his gaze slid down Draco’s taut torso and settled on his jutting erection. “Damn it, Draco, it’ll be good. I’ll make it good until you’re begging for me. I want you so bad.”

“Don’t you dare come any closer.” Draco pressed his palm to Harry’s bare chest and fanned his fingers wide. Harry hissed when he scratched talons down his flesh. “I’ll make you regret it if you touch me.”

Harry groaned huskily and pushed into his hand. “You want me to touch you.”

“Idiot.” Draco dug his claws in deeper and Harry jerked and hissed. He seemed half drunk from the pain and licked his lips when their eyes met. Draco flushed; he felt wild the longer Harry’s green gaze tore through him. “You don’t know a fucking thing about me.”

“I know when you’re fucking with me, you damn tease,” Harry growled. Draco gasped when he was pulled against his chest, but turned his head before he could be kissed. Harry studied his face a silent moment, leaned down, and licked up Draco’s neck.

Draco bit back a moan as his knees went weak. Harry was hard muscle and roaring heat against him. “Seriously, I can’t stand all this puffy, mean looking… Oh. You have nice teeth.” Draco lolled his head back with a sigh as Harry nipped his neck possessively. “Really nice.”

“You’re mine.” Harry’s hands moved around Draco’s petite wings, slid down his back, and cupped his ass tightly. “You know you’re mine.” He rubbed Draco’s outer thigh, his grip rough as he pulled his leg up around his hip. Harry exhaled unsteadily as their erections ground together. “You are, Draco. I’ll show you.” He sucked open mouth kisses to throat as he retracted his claws and pressed two thick fingertips to his hole.

“You’re out of your mind if you think I’m going to just… Oh. Fuck, yes.” Draco threw his head back as lube slick fingers pushed inside him. His lashes fluttered shut and he moaned. Harry dipped down to nip and lick up his sensitive throat as he pumped fingers in and out of Draco’s clenching passage in slow strokes. It was too much and not enough all at once. Draco grasped blindly for Harry’s hair and pulled him up into a kiss. Their lips crushed and fangs scraped desperately.

“That’s it. You taste so good, so right.” Harry groaned as his tongue delved into Draco’s moaning mouth. He couldn’t get enough as he suffocated, tasted and swallowed down every cry Draco made while he scissored fingers into his channel. “I’m going to fuck you hard and make you mine again.”

“I’m still yours. Always yours,” Draco mumbled. The world spun when Harry’s fingers rubbed his prostate with every confident thrust. Harry’s pants were shred in Draco’s claws as he climbed up his powerful form, wrapped arms around Harry’s neck, and hooked his legs around his hips. His mouth again descended to Harry’s, their lips wet as they nipped and sucked and met. “Missed you. Thought I lost you. Thought you died,” Draco gasped between kisses.

“I have you, beautiful.” Harry found Draco’s mouth again and kissed him desperately. “I’m never going to leave you again. Tell me you love me,” he whispered hoarsely.

“I love you, you giant, muscle-bound idiot.” Draco kissed along Harry’s nose, over his eyebrow and teased his tongue into the short hairs. “I’m always going to love you.” He broke off with a groan when a third finger joined Harry’s two and he breached him with maddeningly slow, relentless strokes. “Harry, please. I can’t wait.” Sweat dripped from Draco’s feathery hair as he gasped and bit the soft skin below Harry’s ear.

“Yeah. Yeah, just…” Harry knelt unsteadily and groaned as his erection rocked against Draco’s thigh. “Fuck, I need you to promise me.”

“What?” Draco exhaled heavily as he trailed slick wet over Harry’s throat. He licked down to his broad shoulders and nipped the tight flesh sharply.

“You’re mine.” A new edge crept into Harry’s voice. “Promise me you’re only mine.”

Draco ran claws down his back between his large, dark wings and Harry’s breath came out in a hiss. “I’m only going to say this once, Potter, so you better fucking listen. You’re my mate, my love, my goddamn heart, but unless you can go a marathon with me every night, I’m going to be fucking these silver-haired men. Even if you can manage a marathon every night for me, I’m still going to be spreading for my pack because that’s what we do to bond. It is fucking amazing.”

Harry growled and pulled his head back so he could glare into Draco’s silver eyes. “You think I’m just going to stand back and let you be fucked by a village of gorgeous, battle-strong men?”

Draco snorted. “You think you have a right to ‘allow’ me anything? I’m not a toy who exists to entertain you. If you want to join in, you can, but only if you’re not a selfish, possessive prick about it.”

Harry scowled and narrowed his eyes. “Why the hell would I want to join in? Why the hell would I ever want to touch anyone but you? I love you; I’m always going to love you.”

Draco rolled his eyes, hardly impressed. “Look around you, Potter, or are you completely oblivious to all the people fucking because of my glow?”

Harry wasn’t completely oblivious but was trying very hard to block out the noises as he kept his eyes tight on Draco. It felt wrong to look at someone else when he was supposed to be with his mate. Draco had that damn challenging glint in his eye he could never back down from no matter what form it came in, and Harry forced himself to look. He flushed and his skin shaded darker as he let his eyes wander to the writhing joining of beautiful men.

It didn’t hurt that many of them looked like Draco, and made it damn hot to have them on the ground groping. The idea of one actually being his Draco disturbed him. Harry swallowed hard as his gaze fixed on a couple near by. A slender hipped young man shamelessly twisted on the ground while a larger man pushed thumbs deep into his hole. He bent down and tongue fucked the gasping shifter while he stretched him. “Hell.”

Okay, it might be really hot.

“You’ll get used to it,” Draco whispered in his ear as he tightened his thighs around Harry’s hips. “This is in our blood. Their scent, their magic and sex; we’re meant to respond. Share.”

Harry dragged his gaze back to Draco. He lowered him to the ground and hovered over his pale, sleek body. “I’m not sure,” he finally said as he stared into his eyes. “I can’t honestly say I won’t get upset.”

Draco sighed as he pulled Harry closer and ruffled fingers through his dark feathers. Damn, it felt good to have Harry’s hard body move with his, and their cocks rock together in growing rhythm. “We’ll talk about it. Each time, if that’s what it takes. I want you here, Harry. I want you with me, with my pack. I want you to love these people the way I do and I want you to help me protect them.”

Harry couldn’t remember Draco ever talking about anyone the way he was the Vesper. “What happened to you out here?” Harry asked as he read what looked like tears of desperation and hope in Draco’s gleaming eyes.

Draco smiled crookedly as he kissed the corner of Harry’s mouth. “I found my home, our home. These people are my family, and as long as you don’t go squishing them when you’re in a mood, they can be your family too.”

Harry bit his lower lip as his eyes roamed to the strange buildings, odd, colorful awning high above, and again the shimmering Vesper shifters as they moaned on the ground. Draco grabbed his chin and forced his gaze to the side where two handsome men were working together to make another beg to come.

“You should do that to me.” Draco rolled beneath Harry’s weight and pushed back against his large erection. “But don’t be so nice about it, hmm?”

Harry’s gaze slid to the way Draco’s waist dipped and then swelled to his firm ass; his slender tail made the curve look even sexier. He’d try his best. He wasn’t sure how he was going to feel about Draco being with others when it actually happened, but it clearly meant something to him. He’d have to figure it out.

“Oh, Harry,” Draco gasped when Harry completely ignored his suggestion to instead thrust his tongue deep inside his entrance. His lips sucked his hole and the sensitive flesh around as he soaked him with his juices. “Fuck, don’t tease.” Draco needed so much more than just Harry’s obscene, tormenting tongue. He hadn’t seen him in nearly a week, and he needed to feel him inside. He needed to know he was real and just as wildly in love as before.

“Beg me,” Harry demanded. A hint of a smile was in his voice even as he teased his tongue along Draco’s rim and his hand moved between his thighs to spread him wide and squeeze the firm flesh.

Draco snorted and grinned fiercely. “Potter, fuck me, or I’ll have someone else…” He didn’t get to finish the threat. Harry growled, pulled him down to the ground, and the head of his cock pressed tight to Draco’s hole. Fuck, he was easy to wind up. If only Harry realized how much he preferred his hands, his tongue, his cock, and his amazing love to all the other Vesper. Draco wouldn’t give up his new home for Harry, but he’d cry a river if he lost him.

“Oh… Oh, fuck. Harry. Yes.”

“Listen to yourself,” Harry groaned. He slowly pushed inside, wanting to draw it out and make Draco remember just how good it was to have him inside. “You moan like a whore. A loud, totally horny porn star.”

Draco wasn’t too surprised; Harry was hung like a huge dicked porn star and there was really only one way to take something that big. Loudly. “Fuck. Oh, fuck, that’s it, Harry.” Draco cried out in surprise when Harry grabbed his hips, pulled him up to his knees, and speared him onto his cock. His senses reeled as his body opened to Harry’s thickness and he was stretched wide and unbearably full with each small thrust sinking into him.

“I forgot.” Harry’s eyes widened in surprise as Draco’s passage clenched tight around him. “The last time…”

“Yes.” Draco trembled as he pushed back and urged Harry deeper. It hadn’t been like this with the Vesper, this need to bury Harry impossibly deep and keep him inside.

“You keep—oh, fuck—holding me in,” Harry whispered. He surged forward with a hard thrust and slammed in as far as he could go.

Draco moaned at the words. It felt too good, too fucking perfect. His entire body roared fire when Harry hit something deep inside. It was almost like he grew a second prostate just for him. “Again,” he choked out. Draco’s fingers clawed into the dirt, arms strained, and sweat slid down his skin to drip dark drops into the dusty ground. “Oh, fuck. Fuck,” he mumbled weakly. Harry thrust shallowly but forcefully, and his large hands pulled Draco back with each relentless shove forward.

“You’re tight. Glowing and tight.” Harry growled fiercely and barely avoided a face full of feathers when he pushed Draco’s shoulders down to the ground. Draco moaned, ecstatic Harry didn’t hold back as he crashed into him and took him how he needed to be taken. Harry didn’t hesitate to fill him the way they both loved with hard, long strokes of his thick length.

Cry after cry fell from Draco’s gasping mouth, his chin resting on his arms with ass high in the air. Harry was relentless as he drove into him demandingly, determined to brand himself deep into Draco until there would never be a question of who he belonged to. He would do it as many times as he needed to, every night to remind Draco why he wanted him and show just how damn good they were together.

“Draco!” Harry gasped as his silvery tail wrapped around his waist and pulled him forward and he jarred face first into Draco’s wings. “What are you…? Oh, fuck. Fuck.” Harry closed his eyes and groaned. His arms shook as he wrapped them tight around Draco’s chest. He pushed forward into the passage clutching him, lost in every grasping, suffocating, desperate pull around his cock. “Yes. Fuck that’s it. Fucking it.”

Draco was lost. He was sensation and bright light as he moved with Harry’s shallow, grinding, and completely maddening thrusts. Their rhythm disappeared long minutes ago and left them to tremble and slam erratically. They didn’t care, too caught up in the feel, the sounds and the scent of each other. Draco came with a shout, his fingers clenched tight and hole even tighter. His cum pearled in long streams on the dusty ground beneath him. Silky strands of his hair were caught on Harry’s lips as he sank teeth into Draco’s throat. Harry groaned as his fangs drew blood and he filled Draco’s channel with his hot seed.

Draco sobbed and jerked from the teeth clamped into his flesh. He arched back and his passage milked every long spurt of cum Harry was willing to claim him with. Even though Harry was again growling about how he was his, Draco knew the truth. Harry was his. He was absolutely, completely consumed with him and Draco would never have to say a word or wave a wand to compel those feelings from him. Harry came home to him and he would stay.

Hellcat 5

SCENE FIVE

“Honestly, the nonsense of all this. I gave clear instructions to everyone. There was absolutely no reason any of this had to happen. The couch; no, not that one! That’s older than the country. Put him over there by the cages. No… Did I stutter, Jamie? You assured me this was taken care of. I arrived and it was a madhouse. I had to port just to escape the crazies. You promised me a simple, productive move, not another freak convention. That skitzo was out there again, this time with another foot. I don’t care how it looks in the papers…”

Magnolia’s voice boomed as she paced back and forth and her high heels clicked angrily on the hardwood floor. Sean had no idea where he was as TJ half guided, half carried him to a couch and made him sit. The architecture looked oddly familiar and with a wince, he realized he was still in the building. Magnolia’s had an apartment in his building.

This wasn’t happening. None of this was allowed to happen. His lease, crumpled to the point of unrecognizable, fell out of his hand. He didn’t even notice; sensation refused to reach his fingers. TJ pulled his feet up while Sean shook uncontrollably and turned him until he was stretched out on the buttery leather couch.

“Sean, breathe. Just breathe. Can you hear me?” TJ’s face peered down at him, and Sean focused on his kind expression. TJ’s brown eyes, usually on the verge of laughing, were full of worry as he stared at him. “Your face is burned bad.” TJ gingerly touched Sean’s glasses where the melted metal was fused to his flesh. “You’re lucky your skin didn’t melt off. What the hell happened? I heard an explosion and my phone blew up an instant later. This can’t just be from exposure to magic, right? Did she curse you?”

There was a time Sean was head over heels in love with TJ. It was a difficult, miserable year until he finally faced the fact TJ was straight and was never going to see him as more than a friend. It was the same year Sean ended up homeless and living on TJ’s sofa when his parents kicked him out for being gay. Even then, the both of them fresh faced college students, TJ was selfless and caring while Sean’s world seemed to forever spiral out of control. Sean wasn’t sure why he was thinking about it now. Probably because he just lost thousands in equipment and with no way to replace it, he was out of a business and would be on the streets soon.

Almost ten years had passed since he lived with TJ, yet it was like he never moved forward, never gained ground. He spent so long trying to build a stable life and it was destroyed in a matter of minutes.

TJ sighed worriedly when Sean didn’t answer. He barely seemed to notice he was there at all, his green eyes dazed and unfocused. “You rest, okay? I’ll see if I can find you some water.” TJ stood and stepped from his view, and Sean let his eyes close.

He was fucked. One prima donna of a witch stepped into his apartment building and his entire life was over. If his computers exploded as bad as his headset, he might not even have an apartment to go home to. For all he knew all his stuff was being consumed in obnoxious purple flames while the fire truck sent to stop it couldn’t get through because of the crowd of psychos outside. Shit, were those the types of people who sought out magic? He thought dealing with idiots who didn’t know when their computers were unplugged was bad.

This was all his fault. He was the dumbass who didn’t prepare when he knew damn well how destructive magic could be to tech. He foolishly relied on rules and regulations and thought they would be enough to stop a disaster from striking. Sean wasn’t good at life like other people were. He couldn’t ever adapt, just became old and obsolete while better models like TJ found happiness, reasons for living, and dedicated their time to selfless causes. Why the fuck did he keep trying when it was clear he was never going to be anything better than his fucked up self?

“Jamie, I said call the lawyers. I don’t give a fuck what time it is over there. I have a sparker with half his face blown off and I don’t want to be sued.” Magnolia’s angry steps stopped. “What, water? Yeah, fine, this way.”

Silence descended as Magnolia’s heels clicked and faded as she led TJ to the kitchen. Sean sank back into the couch. He was throbbing pain and a numb buzz of red and confusion to his bruised brain. He blinked his eyes shut, surprised to find they were open. His brain wasn’t processing anything properly. The darkness behind his eyelids felt more real than the room he was in.

Would anyone care if he died in that explosion? What if his head was severed just as cleanly as that foot? Would anyone miss him? Would the clients waiting demand to find out what happened? Would his parents call TJ to see if he somehow redeemed himself and died hetero with a girlfriend they could share stories with about when he was young and still a ‘good’ son?

Sean’s eyebrows furrowed as something hot and silky brushed his forehead. Breath teased over his wounded cheek and stung. He reached up to push the strange sensation away. His burnt fingers connected with something solid and large hovering over him.

TJ would care. He was the only one who cared he was still alive. It was a burden on him. Sean was either a burden or fucked up. He couldn’t ever do anything right. He couldn’t be what everyone wanted him to be and the only option was just not to be at all. His parents would be happier to never have a son. TJ’s life would be better if he never had to check up on his neurotic, social reject of a friend. By default, Sean’s life would be much easier if he stopped existing. He couldn’t even get his fucking brain to let him walk through a door when he needed to.

Sean cracked his eyes open but the darkness barely abated. His blurry gaze focused on black strands of hair as lips brushed the side of his face. A hot, wet tongue lapped his singed flesh. Sean gasped and the room spun drunkenly. He squeezed his eyes shut and groaned as pain, heat, and a soothing noise washed over him all at once.

Was that purring?

His glasses clattered to the floor when they fell from his face, no longer seared into his skin. Sean clutched his shaking hand weakly around what felt like a shoulder, powerful muscle and hot skin. “What?” he mumbled as wet heat burned up his neck and a mouth latched onto his ear. “What are…?” Sean tried to pry his lashes open but they felt too heavy to move. His face contorted and he jerked. His ear felt on fire, on fire while being ripped off and chewed all at once. “F-Fuck,” he choked out.

Sean’s hand was pulled free from his death grip on the stranger’s shoulder and lips rubbed over the damaged flesh. “Hurts,” Sean whimpered mindlessly as every inch of skin lips and tongue touched roared in renewed pain. He wasn’t sure if the skin was peeling from his bones or healing as he clutched at the hand holding his. A pins and needle sensation followed as his nerve endings tingled and his brain tried to process whatever the hell was happening.

A new madness slowly descended to replace everything else. His fingers were sucked into a hot mouth, and a velvet tongue coated and caressed the digits in long, sensual strokes. Sean’s breath hitched and he reached up to tangle his free hand into silky hair as teeth nipped at his fingertips. He exhaled unsteadily as he tilted his head and sought the source tormenting him. A mouth suddenly covered his and Sean groaned as he was devoured by demanding, consuming lips.

Sean kissed back dizzily and used his handhold of hair to tug the stranger closer. He nipped lush lips, found his maddening tongue, and invited it deeper. Saliva dripped hot down his chin as the tongue plunged and stroked into his mouth to explore and taste all it could. Sean rocked his hips as he sought friction for his aching erection. Hands roughly pulled him up and wrapped him into powerful arms. Sean sluggishly chased the lips trailing wet over his jaw. He tried to pull the hard, muscular man closer but each kiss drained him of the little energy he had remaining.

Sean’s head fell back on the couch when he couldn’t hold it up any longer. He moaned in despair until the lips returned and hungrily kissed him. Hands ran possessively down his heaving chest and sides and sought the hem of his shirt.

“Sean, I have your… What the hell? What the fuck is that thing?” TJ asked in a strangled voice as he froze in the living room entrance. The water he was carrying fell from his hand and shattered on the hardwood floor in a spray of liquid and glass.

Magnolia followed at the sound of destruction and stalked into the room. She pulled from her phone with a dark scowl. “You son of a bitch. Bad! Back in your cage this instant!”

Sean groaned and sank heavily into the couch when he was released. His body was dripping honey, lips swollen and tingling. It took a few tries but he eventually managed to crack his lashes open. Beautiful purple eyes gazed deep into his for a frozen, perfect eternity. Sean sighed and blinked. His eyes refused to open again no matter how shrill TJ’s voice grew as it echoed in the darkness.

Hellcat 4

SCENE FOUR

“Holy fuck! Why is everything made of shit here? Damn it.” Magnolia pulled a wand from the metallic coated leather purse hanging off her arm and whipped it at the vending machine. “Son of a…!” The purple glow suddenly flared into a roar of flames in response to the magic. The vending machine shuddered and began to melt. “I hate tech. I fucking hate it.”

Sean groaned from where he was curled up on the tiled floor, unsure of when he got there. His sight was consumed with glittering flames, and all he could hear was a loud ringing in his ear and muffled voices. Everything hurt. Everything. More so when he went to move and his muscles screamed in protest. He struggled to get up onto his trembling knees and found blood streaking his khakis. His hands were scrapped raw from shattered glass and wouldn’t stop shaking.

High heels, black, shiny with a stiletto heel stalked past him and stopped. “Jamie? Jamie, what the fuck did you send me into? You told me the regulators would be all set up. There is a crowd of dumbasses wrapped around this entire building!”

Sean swayed and tried to focus as darkness dimmed his eyesight. His face was on fire; possibly literally. He grasped for where the headset once hung, his fingertips stiff and throbbing pain where they were burned. “What happened?” He clasped his hand over his ear and blinked rapidly but nothing made sense. Sean’s gaze followed the stiletto heel up to a narrow, cocoa skinned ankle and shapely calf. Nausea churned in his stomach the moment he tried to raise his head any higher, and Sean gripped the back of his neck as he lurched forward.

He missed the angry shriek as what was left of his lunch sprayed onto the floor. His thoughts were a jumble of half sights and confused memories. Sean fumbled fingers around his left ear and his brows furrowed from the strange sensation. It felt wrong. It didn’t feel like anything; it was felt like plastic and strange twists and he wasn’t sure if it was because his fingers were messed up or his ear was very, very wrong.

Sean couldn’t tell how much time passed as his body revealed every ache and pain and he tried to figure out if he still had an ear. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t seem to pull a breath in. Air was elusive as he gasped and fought to get his lungs to work. The door that led back into the apartment building crashed open and TJ came barreling through.

“Sean!” TJ’s dark eyes were huge as he froze and stared at where Sean was hunched on the floor. “Oh, fuck.” Blood was splattered on the tile, and Sean’s clothes were smoking a strange, dark purple color. TJ’s gaze fixed on the side of his head where Sean couldn’t hear and his expression crumpled for a heart-wrenching moment. Without another word, TJ jumped down the steps and crouched next to him.

“It’s okay. I’m going to get you an ambulance.” TJ reached for his back pocket only to remember he no longer had his cell phone. “Fuck, I had to throw my phone when it started smoking. The thing blew seconds after I heard the explosion in here. Fuck.” TJ looked up at the woman pacing the small room as she snapped orders into her phone. “Hey, can you make a call? We need an ambulance.”

Magnolia didn’t stop her agitated steps as she glanced disinterestedly in TJ’s direction. “No, that’s not going to happen.”

“What?” TJ glanced away, only to turn back and stare slack jawed. “You’re the witch.”

“I’m a master sorceress, not some backwater Wiccan.” She sighed and stopped walking. “Magnolia DeVaun. I’m sure you’ve heard of me.” When recognition failed to reveal on TJ’s face, Magnolia took her sunglasses off. She looked him up and down appraisingly while a smirk twisted her perfectly glazed pout. Her sharp eyes narrowed as her gaze fell to Sean. “His wounds are superficial. It’s nothing a few healing spells can’t handle.”

“No! No magic.” Sean lurched back and tried to scramble away. He only heard half of what was exchanged and was certain any wand pointed his way was going to be the death of him. TJ went to grab him but Sean slipped from his grasp as pain shot through his body. “My computers. My phone was in my apartment. I have to see if they’re dead.” Sean gasped for air while he muttered in desperate bursts. He couldn’t stop shaking, the motion a quiver through his entire body.

“Sean, calm down. Just…” TJ sighed helplessly when Sean stumbled from his well-intentioned attempts to help him and fell to the ground. Sean clutched the side of his burnt face as he struggled to breathe.

“What’s wrong with him?” Magnolia stomped over and glared down at where Sean was heaving for air on the floor.

“Besides the fact he’s been in at least two explosions, his glasses are melted to his face, and one of his ears is full of metal?” TJ snapped. “He’s having a panic attack. You came in here before the building was buffered and you fried his entire business. Not to mention we can’t even get an ambulance in here to get him patched up. None of this was handle properly.”

“Hey, the regulators were supposed to have been here already,” Magnolia said defensively. “This is the only building zoned for commercial work in the area. Believe me, I would have preferred something upscale and modern but the competition over territory rights is brutal for professional magic users. I was told this would all be straightened out before I got here. As for that mess outside…” Magnolia stalked to the outer door and pushed it open with a scowl. “I don’t know who tipped the fucking media, but there’s no way I can stay out there with those crazies. They think magic is a fucking god code or something, and none of them want to pay for it. Do you want to go out there and make stupid disappear?”

TJ blinked out at the gap to find a dozen people staring back, feet away. All of them were wearing shirts with the purple symbol once blazoned on his now fried phone. “Shut it. Shut the door,” he hissed under his breath.

Magnolia huffed and glanced over her shoulder. She jolted when her gaze fell on the crowd. “Damn it.”

“Magnolia, can I get your autograph? Oh, a photo! Smile Magnolia!”

Magnolia’s expression twisted into one of pure disgust. Her voice was clipped and cold when she spoke. “Sorry, darling, but your camera isn’t buffered properly.” Her wand twitched between her perfectly manicured fingernails and a camera in the crowd fizzled into a smoking plastic heap with a cracked lens. Enthusiastic oohs raised in response.

“Oh my god, can you sign it?” the girl whose camera was smoking on the ground asked with wide eyes. “Please, it’s gotta be a collectible now.”

“Magnolia, curse my camera too!” “Mine too!”

TJ coughed in disbelief and his unease grew as more people ran up to the open door. Someone was shouting outside and he had a terrible suspicion it was at the large group of fans who he left at the front of the building when he heard the explosion.

“I loved your interview in Tricky. Is it true you’re still looking for love?” “Are you challenging Mistress Flora for enchanting rights this season?” “When you cast, do you need to use your dominant hand?” “Magnolia, just one picture. Just one.”

Magnolia took a step back when someone grabbed the door and the crowd surged forward as one. “Magnolia, my mother is really sick; can you just bless her foot for me?”

“Her foot?” Magnolia stared blank faced as a human foot was shoved in front of her nose. It was severed at the ankle and was apparently from the holder’s mother. TJ had to give her credit, Magnolia sounded incredibly calm once she found her voice. “Sorry, I’m in the middle of a move right now, and I’m not taking new customers.”

TJ grabbed Sean by the shoulder and pulled him up roughly. “We’re leaving. Now. Right fucking now.”

Sean swayed and grabbed TJ’s arm for balance. Moments later he stumbled and nearly fell. He couldn’t seem to keep upright and he wasn’t sure if his legs were fucked up or it had to do with his weird ear.

“No, run. We’re running.” TJ hauled Sean and helped push him forcefully up the small flight of stairs. “Your place, then we’ll figure out how to get an ambulance. Shit, two feet; why do they have both of their mother’s feet with them? Holy fuck.”

“TJ, I can’t breathe,” Sean protested. He grabbed blindly for the door before it could smack him in the face.

“Breathe later. Those were pieces of a fucking person. God, the scent.” TJ fumbled with the door while he shouldered Sean upright. He stilled when a slender hand reached from behind him and pushed the door shut. “What the fuck are you…?”

“Quiet.” Magnolia spoke a few clipped, foreign words under her breath. A black void formed in the center of the door and pulsed out to consume the wall in front of them. “Hurry up, or I’m leaving you with these freaks.” She smacked her hand on TJ’s and Sean’s shoulders and shoved. Sean tried to resist but his feet refused to listen, and he was propelled forward into the dark portal.