Evan was lost in a desert. He was burning, his skin tight, the sweat covering his shaking form feeling like coarse salt as it dripped down his skin. Small vipers kept biting him, sinking fangs in that made his body jolt fearfully, more heat rising to each poisonous touch.
He became aware of a change, a breeze. He could smell snow and far away, thousands of miles on some lone mountain top, he could hear the echo of a great beast calling, mourning a sad, low cry. He was reminded of his mother and the music she wrote. She had not been one for singing, only the most powerful of enchanters with the most skilled of voices deemed worthy to raise her spells. As beautiful as the songs had sounded, they had wrought such terrible, horrible power. The dragon crying in the distance was very much the same. A voice of unimaginable beauty filled with deadly, barely restrained force.
Blinking through the sweat catching his heavy lashes, Evan sought out the source of the call, finding vaguely familiar, blazing otherworldly blue eyes glowing in the dimness around him. For a moment Evan could see the boy like he had experienced the world when trapped by Asher’s hand. Vesper was surrounded by a rainbow of light rising high to the ceiling and anticipation of movement to come was strong around him. But there were no blades in his hand this time, just need, so dark, so deep surely it would reach him and wash all this madness from his mind if the boy would only touch him.
Evan met Vesper’s pulling gaze, wishing he could speak or move, wanting to call the boy closer. Vesper must have sensed his unspoken demand because the pale boy took hesitant, halting steps to him. Evan breathed deep, the scent of snow filling his senses.
“Sing,” Evan croaked out, his throat full of sand, eyes raw and gritty. The vipers were back but their fangs were dulled, resting against his burning flesh instead of sinking in. Then he couldn’t feel them at all, the mournful cry he had heard so far away now in the room, echoing off the walls, rising waves of intense, demanding power that he could not turn away from. Vesper had the voice of the celestial; combined with his unnaturally pale skin and hair, he looked truly a dragon in that moment, shimmering scales, long, iridescent feathers cresting his head between his platinum locks. Vesper was the most majestic being he’d ever seen.
“A little longer, dragon boy,” Devlan muttered, eyes intent on his task as he pulled the passionate heat from Evan’s skin. The blond was beautiful even with his many scars. Now that he wasn’t struggling to be free, Devlan could not help but let his hands linger, moving in slow caresses, pulling soft, gasping moans from Evan’s parted lips. It was difficult to look anywhere but at the boy’s lovely mouth, his lips flushed red and plump with a natural pout that demanded to be kissed.
“Devlan, pay the fuck attention!” Gilda snarled from behind him, the noise startling him.
Scowling, Devlan turned his head her way but the girl wasn’t looking at him. Then he felt it, the sudden chill in the air as Vesper’s voice ceased its song. Devlan turned back to look ahead where the pale boy was standing, now a step in front of Evan’s feet instead of the twenty paces away he had started at.
“Don’t do it, Vesper,” Devlan warned, shivering when the boy turned his intense gaze to glare at him.
Devlan could never take Vesper in a fight, and not just because the boy had a demon. While some had magical abilities and others had bodies fortified with magic, Vesper had a combination of both that made him superior. Lust creatures usually only needed allure, physical strength hardly of use to drink down their prey. But allure was not limited to lust. There were deadly creatures like Asher that had allure to bring prey to their destruction. Then there were creatures like Vesper.
Vesper was meant to be looked at and obeyed. He radiated such powerful, natural allure that the only way for him to truly contain it would be to take control and demand everyone he ensnared to step away from him. If he so decided, he could have everyone on their knees, bowing low whenever he walked into a room. He could have been adored, loved, a leader of all. Vesper had instead chosen to suppress his abilities because of how they stole the will away from his prey. Even now, although Devlan felt no desire for the powerful boy with his loud allure, he did feel the compulsion to obey him.
In this moment, he could understand why no one was willing to free the Malice bloodline from their demonic curse. Surely it was celestial intervention to keep such supreme beings from overthrowing the order that existed.
“Give him to me,” Vesper demanded, his voice rich and powerful, commanding everyone in the room to heed. And Devlan, even as he knew to do so would sign Evan’s death at the hands of Vesper’s demon, could not stop himself from standing and pulling the slender blond up to his feet.
“You’re going to get the pretty thing killed,” Devlan gritted out, fighting the compulsion to push Evan towards Vesper’s glowing eyes. “You don’t want to do this.”
Vesper gave a soft sigh, gaze moving over Evan’s face and then down his nearly bare, toned form and long legs. “That is where you’re wrong. I very much want to do this.” He held his hand out, Devlan feeling the pull from that outreached limb even greater than from the boy’s words. “He’s mine. Now give him to me.”
Evan, his mind only slowly returning to him with Devlan’s hands stealing the terrible heat away, leaned back into the tall brunette’s form, eyelids heavy as he took in Vesper. He could feel the same power as before but it was so much stronger now, pulling at his body, trying to get him to step forward.
A dream. Evan had stumbled into this room to hear some boring speech and had fallen asleep. This strange, beautiful boy before him was trying to wake him up. Vesper’s hands would be strong, rough from training with the weapons that hung on his back. His lips would burn against his skin, hotter even than his eyes searing over him.
Again Evan could see the anticipation of action, Vesper ready to pull him close, wrap his arms around him, move his palms over him with forceful, heated movements. A kiss first, hard, crushing, those palms moving down, long fingers pushing between his cheeks and into his tightness, stretching him, tormenting him. And then, when he couldn’t bear anymore, Vesper would take him, fuck him, claim him as his and only his. It would be good… so very good… Evan wished his feet would move so he could take those few steps into Vesper’s waiting arms.
Instead there was a shadow, a sulphur spewing mountain stepping between him and the pale boy’s beautiful glowing eyes. Not even having a moment to comprehend what was happening, Evan was scooped up along with Devlan, both of them roughly walked over to the other side of the room by the glowering bodyguard. Evan fell to a heap, Devlan quickly rubbing his hands over the blond’s limbs to stop the smoking that had occurred when the hellspawn had touched his bare flesh and burned.
Vaguely Evan remembered Beverly’s words when she had dropped him off. In the first hour he had managed to find a room full of people far more terrifying than Stephan Grock.
“Reed? Come on, man, you okay?” Devlan asked, shaking him sharply when Evan made no reply.
“Stop—That hurts,” Evan muttered, swatting weakly at the boy’s hands.
Devlan just sighed, running fingers through his dark locks as he watched the hellspawn try to get Vesper into some sort of control. “Shit, that was close, kid. You might want to stay away from Vesper. Like, forever.”
Evan, gaze dazedly seeking out the pale boy, found Vesper, his blue eyes only starting to lose their glow once again. He wondered blearily if Vesper had done something to his head. Even here, well out of the reach of his allure and the pull no longer calling, Evan wanted desperately to go to the boy, crawl to him, touch him and be touched. His body felt like something had been torn away and would not be whole unless Vesper touched him. When those eyes fell on him, even with the glow now completely faded, Evan was sure Vesper felt it too, a look of such longing and despair etched on the pale boy’s features that could only be a mirror to his own.
“One of you, stop him!” Devlan shouted suddenly, pointing to the bodyguard rummaging through Evan’s clothes. Corinth and Gilda both raised spells at the same time, Evan’s clothing whisking into their hands as the material flew across the room. The hellspawn went to pursue but Vesper found his voice, barking orders at the overgrown man until he stopped. And then Vesper was gone, turning with a snap and straight back and quickly leaving after only the smallest of glances towards Evan before he escaped out into the light, his bodyguard on his heels.
“Why did he want my clothes?” Evan asked as Gilda and Corinth approached and handed the slightly sulfur smelling garments to him.
“Name badge,” Gilda explained, removing it from the outside of Evan’s cloak. “Here, keep it tucked away. You don’t want that freak telling its master the name of the boy Vesper was trying to pull. No good can come of it.”
Evan nodded dumbly, his mind still not fully processing anything of what had just happened. He got up unsteadily and stepped into his pants, pulling them up and zipping while trying to ignore the hiss behind him.
“Shit, Reed, your back is even worse than your front,” Devlan growled, his fingers brushing down the blond’s scarred back tenderly. Evan wrenched away as if slashed, scowling at the ground while struggling to get his shirt down. “I’m not going to hurt—”
“I don’t care. Don’t fucking touch me,” Evan snapped, jolting forward when those tingling fingers again pressed against his skin, this time his neck. He glared back at the taller boy, hoping to get his point across. But Devlan’s eyes were filled with something damn near close to pity and Evan couldn’t bear to see it. Even the asshole felt fucking sorry for him. “Stop looking at me like some goddamn broken baby bird, jackass. I can take care of myself.”
He couldn’t see Devlan’s expression, but when he was suddenly pulled backwards into the boy’s arms, he imagined he might have pissed him off. Except, although powerful and unwilling to let him go, Devlan’s hold was warm, comforting as the brunette wrapped his long leather clad arms around him and buried his face against Evan’s neck.
With a start, Evan realized he was being hugged.
Frowning stonily, he stared unseeing straight ahead and waited it out. Like he needed a hug? Like he wanted people seeing just how much Stephen Grock had tortured him over the years so that they’d feel sorry for him? This warmth, this combination of hard and softness pulling him close and holding him still, it was just a form of suffocation he wanted to be free of. He didn’t need it. Didn’t need fucking anything from anyone.
“Let me go,” Evan whispered, wishing his eyes weren’t so blurry.
“Shut up, kid,” Devlan said gruffly, only holding him tighter. “I’m a fucking incubus and you’re hot. So what if you just nearly got fucked up by Asher, braindead by an uncontrollable lust spell and set up to be eaten alive by one of the most dangerous fucking demons this world has ever seen? You’re hot and I want to hold you.”
Devlan was an asshole and Evan was pretty sure his best fucking friend from that moment on.
The incubus was shaking, clearly having comprehended the blond’s danger a lot better than Evan could fathom at the moment. Gilda was suddenly there, wrapping her arms around the two of them, a mixture of lavender and sweat as she buried her face against the other side of Evan’s neck. “Shit, I thought you were dead. The both of you. If Vesper had touched you…”
Evan shuddered, unable to stop the noise he made from the thought of Vesper touching him. Both Devlan and Gilda immediately reared back, their expressions a mixture of lust and concern.
“Don’t fall for him, Ev. He’s cursed. He’s the walking dead.” Gilda looked him hard in the eye, her violet gaze full of warning. “You think anyone will stop that demon from killing you? You think there’s anyone on this goddamn planet that can stop it? The Malice bloodline is one of the strongest out there and they’re nothing more than prey to that monster. If you have any sensible brain cell left after what happened today, you’ll never think of Vesper Draconis Malice again.”
Evan swallowed hard, fighting with something inside of him he couldn’t fully comprehend. “It’s just allure,” he finally whispered, his voice too hoarse, mind too numb. He didn’t even know Vesper. He was just really beautiful and had amazing glowing eyes and stood tall even while being groomed for a slow, humiliating death. Evan would have to be some sort of idiot to get caught up in a situation like that.
“He’s not a vampire, kid. He doesn’t enthrall you after he’s gone,” Devlan said bluntly. “You’re reacting to his name like you’re… Crap. Maybe you are. No one knows who sired you. Maybe you’re mate material for a fae. But you better shut it down now,” he added with a scowl. “He’ll only get you killed. And his demon won’t wait around to do it. That beast will suck you dry and clean out your bones and there’s no one alive that can stop him.”
Evan threw his suit jacket on, thought better of it and then tore it off, leaving his robe and jacket over his arm, dress shirt half opened from missing buttons, tie left on the floor. He had no interest in impressing anyone anymore. Fuck them all.
“I get it already. Death. Destruction. I can’t even prevent the short guy from grabbing my arm and asphyxiating me—I didn’t even want to come to this fucking school!” He snarled suddenly, whirling on the silent Devlan.
“I wanted to be a scientist.” Evan’s dark eyes flashed gold as he stepped towards the brunette. “I fucking hate magic and I hate what terrible people do with magic. Because, fuck, so far everyone that I’ve seen with power is just one link lower on the food chain to someone or something else feeding off of him. So really, who’s it going to be for me, Devlan? The little shit covered in blood that only had to touch my fucking hand to kill me? Some dusty old academic that wants me to be his fucking slave apprentice until I’m burnt out and have no will left of my own? The fucker that beats me because even though I have never shown an ounce of potential he still knows I’m more powerful than he’ll ever hope to be? Am I really supposed to care if it’s a fucking demon instead of the warlock at home! I got the fucking letter and now I’m stuck in this shit school with these shit monsters that are all trying to figure out how to exploit me or destroy me. You want to warn me? You just want to feed off of me too!”
“Damn it, Devlan,” Gilda sighed lowly, the incubus growling as he pushed Evan back, slamming the scowling blond up against a pillar.
Evan had a frozen instant to realize just what the idiot wanted before lips descended to his, rough and consuming as he was kissed back against the marble. Growling, he tried to push Devlan away but his limbs still felt too weak and full of heat. The incubus easily grabbed his wrists, pinning Evan’s arms to the side and grinding his hips forward.
“Fuck,” Evan gasped, turning his head and panting as Devlan rocked his erection against his hip.
Lips pressing to the blond’s jaw, Devlan didn’t let up, his voice dark and full of want as he held Evan down. “I can fuck you, Reed. Damn sure you could use a good, hard fuck.”
“Shut up,” Evan snapped, trying to pull his arms free and groaning when it only managed to push his chest against the taller brunette’s. He had said too much, had given away way too much of himself than he had ever intended to tell anyone. And it had felt fucking good. He had never felt so alive before, finally able to scream out his anger over his fucked up life.
Glaring at Devlan, Evan stopped trying to escape. He surged forward, sealing their lips together, gasping when he was pinned back and the incubus’s hands began to tear at the shirt he had only just gotten back on.
Devlan tasted like coffee and sex, his tongue driving into Evan’s mouth, large hand cupping the boy’s face to keep him still as he nipped his lower lip and drew gasp after gasp from the blond. His other hand tore up Evan’s t-shirt, fingers digging into his scarred flesh as he ground their hips together with desperate, agonizing thrusts. The leather felt both soft and rough against Evan’s skin at once, cold metal clasps and chains shocking each time they brushed his hot flesh. The material was perfect to grab onto, letting Evan pull the brunette harder against his body, the boy groaning into his mouth.
“Fuck, Reed, you are one sexy… angry… hottie.”
“Seriously, shut up,” Evan muttered breathlessly, pushing at Devlan’s coat until the boy relented and shrugged out of it, the leather and chains falling to the floor in a heap. Beneath he wore a thin, semi-transparent black shirt that clung to his long torso, revealing every inch of strong, toned muscle above black leather pants.
Devlan immediately pulled Evan back to him, mouth moving a hot trail down the blond’s neck while he squeezed his ass hard with both hands. Evan gaped from the sensation, Devlan using it as an excuse to kiss the boy again, sucking on his tongue while saliva trailed from the corner of the blond’s mouth.
“Oh fuck,” Evan groaned, feeling every hot, hard inch of Devlan’s dick against his hip with each rock of their bodies. He had to be losing his mind; Devlan’s touch was like fire but not the type about to kill him like Asher’s had been. No, it was damn perfect, stealing his fear, his thoughts, his awareness of anything but the other boy’s hard body and wet mouth. He wrapped his arm tighter around the incubus’s neck and in understanding, Devlan lifted him, bracing him on the pillar while Evan hooked his legs around the boy’s leather clad hips.
“That’s it,” Devlan breathed out shakily, Evan rolling his hips while wrapping his fingers into the brunette’s thick hair and pulling him in for a forceful kiss. “I got what you need, baby. Gonna make it… so fucking good.” He rubbed his palms roughly over Evan’s ass and the bottom of his thighs, his erection now perfectly lined with the blond’s.
Ignoring the idiot’s words, Evan kissed down his chin, tongue lapping out over Devlan’s bristled jaw, swollen lips red and wet tingling against the prickling stubble. He wrenched the boy’s head back, his teeth following. Devlan grunted when Evan latched onto his jaw, the blond’s lips slipping on the wet flesh as he bit down and held.
“Fuck… Fuck,” Devlan whispered, his eyes widening in surprise as he turned and braced himself on the pillar to keep from falling. “How are you…?”
The incubus really talked too much. Tightening his legs and shifting in Devlan’s hold, Evan threaded fingers through the boy’s thick hair and kissed him deeply, tugging the incubus’s head back and swallowing down his gasps. Devlan couldn’t seem to do more than hold onto Evan’s waist, the brunette whimpering and sinking back against the pillar while plundered by the angry blond.
The world tilted, Evan cracking his eyes open to find Devlan sliding down the wall. They landed on the floor heavily, Evan grabbing the boy’s broad shoulders to keep from titling sideways. The incubus’s eyes were closed, his breathing strained, lips parted and swollen. For a frozen moment, Evan wondered if the boy had fallen unconscious. He didn’t kiss that bad, did he?
Lashes fluttering open to reveal glowing amber eyes, Devlan didn’t answer, his expression oddly dazed. There was a flush to his pale cheeks that hadn’t been there before, possibly a side effect from feeding. Evan bit his lip, his mind pausing on the realization that sex for Devlan might not actually be sex but some sort of meal. He had no idea what the hell an incubus actually was besides some guy that was supposed to fuck up your dreams.
“Are you okay?” He tried again when Devlan continued to blink at him slowly. Evan leaned forward, pressing lips to the brunette’s. Devlan gave a soft moan, his tongue sliding out and teasing against his. Well, not dying anyways, but maybe really full. Evan sighed, trying to fight down the fire in his body. Of course. He finally gave in to the fucking guy and Devlan just couldn’t keep up. What a fucking terrible joke the entire day was turning out to be.
Sitting back, Evan looked around the room, wondering if Gilda had hung around so he could ask her just what was wrong with the incubus. He stilled when he caught sight of the two sirens, Asher smiling at him in such an intimidating way he didn’t notice immediately that the three of them had been caught. Thorned vines—thick, black and deadly—were wrapped around each lust creature. Gilda was bleeding, her arms bound tight and now stuck in the position of her reaching for her blade.
Standing slowly, Evan put himself between Devlan and the voice behind him. He didn’t know what the hell was going on but if Gilda was trapped, it wasn’t good.
“Yeah, that’s me,” Evan said, taking in the new boy warily. Elf. A real elf. Apparently they did grow taller than five feet. Nothing else had long pointed ears tipped in black, and Evan held himself very still. Even though the new boy looked unassuming at 5′ 5,” dressed plainly in sorcerer robes with shinning auburn hair that reached to his shoulders and wide, warm brown eyes that shone from his glowing golden skin, Evan had been told enough about elves from Beverly to know the boy could probably kill him in a second flat if he so chose. Given his expression as he glared down behind Evan’s knees to where Devlan was slumped, he was definitely considering murdering someone.
“I’m Nicholas Taxus,” the elf finally spoke, his lush lips twisted in a tight frown. “I’ve been asked to retrieve you. I did not expect I would need to be rescuing you from a pack of lust creatures.” His voice was pure venom and Evan found himself standing taller to block Devlan as much as possible.
“I didn’t need rescuing,” Evan said, his eyes straying to Gilda. She looked pissed, yes, but not afraid like she had when Asher had grabbed him. “I don’t know why you’re holding them, but they’ve done nothing wrong.”
“Really?” Nicholas turned his glare to Evan, taking in the boy’s disheveled clothes, swollen lips and mussed hair. “Sorry, but you really don’t seem to be in a state to be able to see anything clearly. Come with me. Master Wilde is waiting.”
Evan had no idea who Master Wilde was and had little interest in this boy who had knocked Devlan out and confined the others. “I don’t give a fuck what you want. I’m not going anywhere until you release them. They’ve done nothing wrong.”
Huffing, the boy stood taller and looked haughtily towards the lust creatures. “They know what rules they’ve broken, feeding outside of the designated areas. This one,” he nodded towards Devlan, “Is so out of control he couldn’t even wait until orientation was through. They all should have been prepared and have fed accordingly before even arriving.”
Evan was pretty damn sure that all the kids had been in control before Asher had started his stupid spell. That the small boy was covered in blood probably meant that he had fed recently as well. “Seriously, I don’t know what your problem is, but they haven’t done anything wrong,” Evan snapped, crouching back down to check on Devlan. He had no interest in getting some self-righteous nosy-body involved. Yeah, he was still fucking pissed off at Asher for being a psycho freak, but Gilda and Corinth had been nice enough and although Devlan was still an ass, he had saved his life and kissed well enough to forgive the other shit that came out of the incubus’s mouth.
Devlan still looked dazed, although now he had fixed his gaze to the elf glaring at him. “Tree-hugging royal,” Devlan taunted, his voice full of sleep and less caustic than intended.
Flushing red, Nicholas growled angrily. “I wouldn’t expect manners from one of your kind. Hunting in the dark and stalking beds is hardly the activities of a civilized people. You couldn’t even control yourself your first hour here.” He waved his arm, the vines falling and dispersing from the others. “Go. The tour is waiting for the rest of you. Maybe you’ll pick up on some of those rules you’ve happily ignored.”
Gilda, blood dripping down her arms, immediately stepped away from Asher now that she was free, the boy’s green eyes staring too intently at the crimson trail. “You could have just said something,” she muttered, “Instead of coming in and just spelling us.”
“You shouldn’t have been here in the first place. I could only assume the worst.”
“There’s nothing wrong with feeding off desire,” she shot back. “Elves may not indulge but it’s hardly life or death.”
Glaring at Asher, Nicholas didn’t reply. “Evanel, I have been tasked with collecting you. I have other things I would prefer to be doing right now. Please collect your things and we’ll go.”
“And why should I listen to you?” Evan asked, his annoyance only growing to hear his full name used again.
“Because I’m an Elite and I’m apprenticing with Master Wilde, one of the most esteemed teachers here.” At Evan’s unimpressed look, he added tightly, “And your uncle has requested it.”
Stilling, Evan exhaled slowly. “Sebastian is here?”
“Yes. Apparently to speak with you.” Nicholas turned again to where Gilda was standing stubbornly, Corinth and Asher intently listening. “Well? Why are you still here?”
“Evan?” Gilda called, her expression full of suspicion for the strange turn of events.
Straightening, Evan gave a small shrug. He hadn’t seen his uncle in ages. The man wrote sometimes but his military work kept him secretive and usually unreachable. “Devlan, are you going to be okay?” He asked, sighing down at the boy who looked about ready to fall asleep. Maybe it was a sleep spell?
“I’m fine… Try not to be bored to suicide by the egotistical windbag,” Devlan mumbled while glaring ineffectively at the elf.
Evan followed his gaze to Nicholas but the boy was already stomping away. “Gilda, can you just…?” He pointed to Devlan, then scooped up the rest of his clothes and quickly stumbled forward to catch up. He glanced over his shoulder, nearly tripping when he caught Asher’s chilling smile.