“Faggot freak, twelve o’clock.”
Ky stopped short at the meanly snickered words. There was only a trickle of students in the courtyard that connected all the buildings together at Mesabi College, and everyone there was hurrying to their first class after the weekend. Ky turned to see who had spoken and was jostled forward by a group of taller students who stepped in too close. His side was struck by an elbow, and the strap of his backpack was pulled roughly from his arm. His bag fell to the ground with a loud clatter while Ky gritted his teeth and struggled to keep from being knocked off the narrow concrete path.
“Whoops,” someone snorted when they hip checked him, and Ky stumbled sideways.
Ky managed to catch himself before he hit the grass peppered with orange and red leaves. He braced his hands on his knees and growled under his breath.
Fucking Mesabi. He hadn’t bothered to be anyone but himself today, and he was paying for it.
“What’s wrong? You gonna cry?”
“Fuck you,” Ky snapped as he looked up through his spiky black hair and found the faces of the boys who shoved past him. They had turned back to see his reaction, and Ky was greeted with an ugly sea of flannel and ill-fitting jeans. Was everyone in Blackstone Falls trapped in the fucking 90s?
“Not our thing, fairy boy,” drawled a tan, solidly built young man with cruel, light eyes. His gaze dropped to Ky’s shiny black pants that were laced up with red on the sides, his red and white band shirt that left his slim arms exposed to reveal an array of black and silver bracelets, and his shiny black fingernails. He didn’t even notice the master collar glittering at his throat as he dragged his stare up to Ky’s face and apathetically met his large silver eyes rimmed in smoky black eyeliner. “Even if you do look like a pussy.”
Anger flushed up his back and down to his toes. Ky’s mouth stretched into a grin free from humor as he stared the stranger down and debated if he wanted to feel flesh break beneath his fists. It had been a really shitty weekend, and he was kinda sure beating the fuck out of some redneck bigots would be a nice release to the supernatural stresses waiting for him at home.
It was so unlike him, Ky had to take a breath to get ahold of himself.
Shit, what the fuck was he doing? Weak. This guy was human. He was just some stupid, naive as fuck human who didn’t even know a wand to his head could kill him dead.
“What, you got something to say?” At Ky’s silent glare, the dull-eyed teen took a step forward. He was tall, blond, and had a way with his shoulders that spoke of starting more than a few beat downs. Ky tensed when something hard and aggressive flashed in the kid’s eyes. “Well? Spit it out.”
“Sorry, I don’t speak farmhand.” Ky forced himself to shrug it off and back down. He wasn’t going to fight some stupid kids who didn’t even know magic existed. Ky, no matter how assholic the opponent, was still a pacifist at heart.
“Enjoy your circle jerk, dickwads,” Ky taunted as he reached for his bag. There was a sharp inhale, and Ky paused and groaned inwardly.
“Frank, we’re late.” Someone stepped in front of the tall blond whose face had turned a blistering red at Ky’s parting words. Ky’s eyes darted to the sober looking teen holding his friend back, then to the others who had gone silent.
Right. Apparently the gay jokes only went one way around there before someone took things personally. Fun.
Ky’s glare was molten as he watched to see just how things would unfold. Frank wrenched from his friend’s grasp with an angry snarl and stomped away. The gazes turned Ky’s way were accusing, like he’d broken an unspoken rule for those born painfully straight in a world that didn’t give a fuck about sexual orientation. Ky had a feeling the only reason the group was leaving was because they didn’t want Frank to end up in jail for beating him to death.
“Faggot freak,” one called in farewell. Another echoed “freak,” less exuberantly.
“Stereotypes,” Ky grunted back, pretty sure there couldn’t be anything more mundane or annoying. He watched the group of teens leave the courtyard and walk straight into the school building he was headed for. Fuck his life if they were actually in his class.
Ky’s anger was dulled by the sleep he hadn’t actually had, and he sighed when he looked down and found his fallen backpack spilled open and Tobias’s wand visible. “Shit.” He quickly scrambled to the ground to put his things in order.
Ky hissed when he couldn’t get the wand to fit around his bulky books. He flipped it a few times and pulled the edges of the canvas to make room. He’d gotten the damn thing in earlier but just barely. It was bad enough he had Anselm’s wand up the back of his shirt. He should have worn a jacket—the weather was getting cold enough to warrant one—but Ky hadn’t wanted to hang around his house long enough to dig one out of the unpacked boxes. Things were strained around his parents, and Ky didn’t trust Marcus not to go through his things to steal the wands while he was out.
“Mother… fucking… whore!” Ky snarled when one of his books snagged on the crystal on the wand and he heard a tearing sound. He stopped struggling, hunched forward so his bangs covered his eyes, and sighed heavily. He was ready to turn the fuck around and never walk into Mesabi again. Seriously, he had to negotiate with an actual coven of witches tomorrow, and his parents thought he could just go to school the day before?
Footsteps crunched, and Ky tensed as a shadow crossed over him. He shoved the wand roughly into his backpack, cringed at the sound of ripping fabric, and quickly pulled the edges of the bag together.
“Sorry about those assholes,” an unfamiliar girl’s voice called down to him. “But you’re kinda asking for it dressed like that.”
Ky scowled. Yeah, this was so not how he wanted to spend his day. He stood abruptly and hissed when the world spun unsteadily for a moment. A hand touched his arm, and Ky quickly pulled back.
“Whoa. Chill, man.” Bright blue eyes blinked at Ky. They were surrounded by thick eyeliner from a face powdered so white and smooth, he thought he was looking at a doll. “I’m Piper.”
Ky looked down at Piper’s outreached hand with fingers that ended in two-inch-long blue nails, and then back to her bright, raccoon mask eyes of a similar shade. She looked like the kind of trouble most people who didn’t know magic got up to, and Ky was immediately wary.
She might have been going for punk, but as Ky took in her outfit, he was going to say she was an artist. Piper was decked out in a tight white corset and a deconstructed mini tutu of silver and white layers of glittery tulle and silk. Her thigh high latex boots with flat chunky heels were neon blue and splattered with white paint like she had gotten into a fight with a paint brush and intentionally lost. Her white tights were more holes than anything else, as were the long fingerless gloves she wore of the same material that stretched up to her slim biceps. Her dirty blond hair was streaked with blue and pulled back in a messy bun on the top of her head, while a delicate hoop of white gold glinted from her septum and another from her eyebrow.
“Nice nose ring,” Ky said finally. He turned with his backpack clutched to his chest and walked away. Piper was about the most normal person his own age he’d met since leaving the city, and he seriously needed to get away from her if he wanted to keep his sanity.
“Hey, wait up,” Piper called after. Her heels clunked on the pavement as she hurried to catch up to Ky’s deliberately brisk pace. “The ‘asking for it thing’ was a joke, if you can’t tell. I mean, like, duh, look at me.” She swung her bag over her shoulder while sashaying her hips and beamed. “I like your clothes. Did you make them?”
Ky shot her a sideways glance and kept walking. He was not going to get dragged into this. All he had to do was act like an asshole long enough for Piper to realize how pointless it was to talk to him.
“Come on, you’re the most interesting person I’ve met in Blackstone Falls in like, well, forever. Don’t ruin it by being antisocial.” Piper was not dissuaded by Ky’s apathetic stare, and she jumped in front of him. Ky stopped short to keep from crashing right into her. Piper’s winning smile revealed two dimples, and Ky sighed to himself. She was ridiculously adorable. Damn it.
“Or, you know, be antisocial with everyone but me,” Piper added cheerfully. “I love your shirt. Did you slash it yourself, or is this the style where you’re from? Please tell me people dress like this somewhere all the time.”
Ky steadied himself. She couldn’t even understand how complicated a subject that was. Like, did he tell her about Feral—the invisible demon who lived in his wardrobe—or the deadly overseer who nearly ate everyone in his house?
Ky exhaled noisily. Fuck, he was never going to be a normal person again.
Piper didn’t bother waiting for an answer. “If you can’t tell, I’m studying to be a fashion designer. It’s, like, my fate or something. You can’t even understand. I was born for this. Oh, but I was also born here in Blackstone Falls and the textile program is, well, it’s kinda like a sewing circle from hell. The teacher is so fucking old I want to hang myself every time she brings up buttonholes.” Piper stopped gesturing her hands and fixed Ky with a pointed look. “I haven’t seen you there yet. You’re studying fashion, right?”
“I’m an artist,” Ky grunted and pushed past her.
“I knew it!” Piper cheered. She followed after and matched Ky’s steps. “I knew you were either into fashion or art, or maybe you were one of those broody poetry writers. So, what do you do? Sculpting, painting, jewelry, glassblowing? Oh, have you tried fusion art? Your necklace is totally industrial.”
“I paint,” Ky said sharply, and was immediately annoyed with himself for answering.
The Olson House held Ky’s required English Lit course, and he quickly ducked into the building and headed down the wide, white laminate tiled hallway while Piper struggled up the flight of stairs in her impressive heels. Most of the classroom doors were closed, even though the small community college didn’t have enough students or teachers to ever have many rooms filled at the same time. Ky’s class was down a corridor, and then another. He did everything to keep his pace quick to avoid his chatty companion.
Ky unfortunately misjudged Piper’s determination to have an actual conversation with him.
“Painting, huh? I bet you use a ton of colors, right? Like crazy saturation.” Piper caught up and threw her arm across the door to Ky’s classroom before he could pass. Her grin was full of determination. “You do, don’t you? I’d love to see your color palettes. I use them to create cool color designs. Color is like my thing. Oh, maybe we could do a collaboration!”
“Uh…” Ky really couldn’t handle whatever the hell this was. “I have to get to class. I’m late,” he muttered.
“Pssh, no shit. We both are.” Ky winced when Piper’s eyes went wide with understanding. “Ha, you don’t know we’re in the same English class, do you? Seriously, you do realize I’m in your botany and Intro to Arts class, too, right?” At Ky’s blank look, Piper shook her head and tsked. “Well, I’d be offended, but you’re always spacing and you never talk to anyone. I’m kinda relieved to see you’re not stoned out of your skull enough to even talk.”
Great, not only did everyone think he was a freak, but they also thought he was drugged up. His parents would love that to go with his whole sorcery, breaking and entering, and accomplice to murder thing.
Ky pursed his lips and ducked under Piper’s arm without a word. His shoulders were stiff as he sought out an empty seat in the room of students who were staring back at him like he was a science project from an alien world. There was no way he could bullshit his way through normalcy right now. Not anymore. His father grew up in a house full of magic and wouldn’t bring himself to admit it was real.
Experimented on. His entire family was experimented on. He was never human.
Ky’s stomach lurched as a familiar, sick wave hit him all over again. He threw himself into the empty seat by the window in the back and clutched his arms around his bag on his desk. The teacher gave him a look Ky didn’t notice with the way the room was tipping. He was seconds from jumping out of his skin, or screaming, or maybe just being really sick in front of a bunch of judgmental, snickering college students.
He never should have come in today, but he knew his parents would’ve freaked. Ky could only handle so much when it came to being a disappointment to his family.
Piper took the desk beside him and hefted up a brilliantly glittering bag made out of small, colorful quilted triangles trimmed in white. She rummaged through the large bag until she found her notebook and pen. Ky kept his head down to avoid her gaze, and therefore the invitation for conversation. His eyes were drawn to the door when someone slipped through and the teacher stopped short.
“Late, Mr. Matthews. We’ve been over this.”
It was the guy who kept Frank from flipping out. His dark eyes met Ky’s a moment after he took a seat on the other side of the classroom.
Ky bit back a groan. Great. Fucking great.
A pen tapped his desk, and Ky jolted and turned his head to where Piper was leaning his way.
“Do you have notes for Friday’s reading? I had to leave early.”
Ky stared at her silently. The girl just wouldn’t give up. With a sigh, Ky sat up and pulled his backpack down toward him so he could find his notebook. He scowled when he discovered the inner lining of the bag was badly torn from the wand’s crystal topper. Ky was careful to keep Tobias’s wand covered as he pulled his notebook free. He turned to the last page he wrote in, twisted the cover back, and handed it to Piper.
Piper took one look at Ky’s notes—an array of dark scribbled drawings in the margins with very little text—and handed the notebook right back. “Forget it. I’m sure I’ll figure it out. Do you, like, even care if you pass this class?”
The question surprised him, and Ky’s gaze fell to his desk as he shrugged defensively.
He wasn’t exactly brilliant, and school never came easy for him even if he was determined to make something of himself with his art. Well, that was, he used to be determined. Things had made a lot more sense when he first moved there before relics, overseers, and magic came into his life.
Ky suddenly felt guilty about just how little attention he had for class, and how much money his parents were spending to keep him there.
His thoughts flashed to Magnificent Night, and Ky flipped his notebook to a blank page. There was so much he couldn’t ever hope to fix.
Ky hunched in his seat and tried to focus on the teacher’s lecture. It was pointless with all the thoughts swirling in his mind about tomorrow and the Aeternum. Even now the simple black business card in his back pocket burned with magic and destruction.
He might lose them all, not just Tobias’s demons but Lovely, Feral, and Magnificent. Ky couldn’t let it happen, but then, he had no power to stop it. He might die tomorrow just for trusting Stewart Moore enough to walk into what felt like an obvious trap. Having Liem vouch for the sorcerer wasn’t an assurance. If anything, it pretty much promised he’d be just as monstrous as Tobias.
Ky didn’t know enough, and the knowledge of his ignorance only made the lives he was responsible for feel heavier. He sighed and rested his chin on his hand, and his gaze caught on a pair of brown eyes that quickly darted away. Ky raised an eyebrow when the same guy from earlier looked his way again. His eyes touched longer this time before the kid turned his gaze down to his desk with a blush.
Ky shook his head and snorted softly. A self-hating fag picking on the goth fairy. It was so fucking cliché it made his teeth itch. Still, it was more interesting than his parents calling him a liar and a thief. Probably better than being home and having to face the mess of a requiem sleeping in his bed.
Ky’s expression darkened and his gaze unfocused as he thought of Magnificent Night. There was no escaping this. No matter where he went, they were all bonded to him now. Their lives were in his hands, and it felt like a nightmare he couldn’t wake from.
The sounds of chairs scraping back and bags rustling alerted Ky class was over. He pulled his dulled stare from the window, and the room blurred before him. Ky had barely slept since his wards were invaded by Stewart Moore. When he finally gave in, curled up in the overstuffed chair by the fireplace, his dreams were full of the impossible tasks ahead of him. There was less than 24 hours to prepare, and he had no plan or idea of what he was going to do.
“Hey, you ready?”
Ky blinked and lifted his gaze to the person standing in front of his desk. It was the guy from earlier, the one who kept staring at him, and Ky raised his eyebrows in confusion.
“Almost,” Piper chimed next to Ky as she gathered her books. “I need to stop in at Mrs. Babin’s and ask about the project due next week.”
“Come on, Piper. You promised.” With a frustrated sigh, he shoved a hand into the back of his jeans pocket and pulled out a crumpled five-dollar bill. “If this is about gas money…”
“Jared, stop being a dumbass. I’m keeping my promise. It’s just a little later than planned.” Piper pointedly ignored the money being pushed at her, stood, and hefted her bag onto her shoulder. “What’s the rush? It won’t be more than ten minutes.”
Jared glanced self-consciously at Ky, who was doing his best to pretend he wasn’t there as he tried to force his notebook into his overstuffed backpack. “It’s nothing. I just want to get out of here. My mom has been flipping over this thing, and the sooner I get rid of those damn cats, the better.”
Ky’s head throbbed in pain as he struggled with his bag and tried to get the sides closed.
Seriously, why the hell did every damn class in Mesabi require books when they could all be stored digitally? He understood that some people couldn’t afford computers, but you could read a book on plenty of affordable devices no bigger than his hand.
Ky jolted when a bright blue fingernail tapped his desk, and Piper spoke. “Hey, you wanna hang out? Jared’s got a litter of barn kittens we’re taking to the shelter. They’re super cute and tiny.” She cupped her hands to indicate the small size.
“Uh…” Ky glanced from Piper to Jared, who looked more than a little uncomfortable at his inclusion. “You’re just giving them away? Are they even old enough to be from their mother?”
“He’s trying to keep them from being eaten by the other cats,” Piper explained when Jared’s expression soured. “There are a ton of feral cats on his land, and the kittens keep ending up dead. Jared’s crazy mother won’t…”
“Piper!” Jared hissed, his cheeks flushed with outrage.
“What?” Piper fixed him with an impassive stare. “Your mother is out of her fucking mind, and the entire town knows it. Ky’s not going to care. He lives in the evil, haunted death house, after all.”
Ky stopped fighting with his backpack. “I live where?”
“Ha, you have no clue.” Piper smirked unapologetically. “I think some of the urban legends about your place are actually in one of the books about the town. Let’s see, there’s the Conner disappearance. They found a dead kid there, supposedly. Oh, and the house, like, never catches on fire.”
Piper paused and carefully combed fingers through her hair. “Actually, you should probably keep an eye out for that. People have been trying to burn the Scion mansion down for years. Kids go down all the time to see if it’ll burn. Well, that and for the ghosts.”
“Oh.” It was hard to think of kids sneaking outside the Scion mansion for years while Lovely, Feral, and Magnificent were struggling to stay alive inside.
“You haven’t, you know, seen any ghosts since you moved in?” Piper’s overly casual posture did nothing to disguise the interest glittering in her eyes.
Ky’s curiosity about the rumors circling Anselm’s old house wasn’t strong enough to suck him into actually having a conversation with people who thought ghosts were cool.
“No ghosts,” he said flatly and pushed himself up to his feet. Ky lurched and grabbed his desk when the room spun. “Shit.”
“Whoa. You okay?” Jared reached out and his hand grazed Ky’s arm. “You look like you’re about to hit the ground.”
“I’m fine.” Ky met his gaze, and Jared immediately looked away.
Jared’s cheeks tinted pink, and his dirty blond hair teased into his eyes as he spoke to the spot next to Ky. “You can come with, if you want. I mean, the kittens are really small and stuff, so yeah.” Jared shoved his hands into his pockets, and his eyes darted to Ky and then away in erratic movements. “There’s room in the car, so…”
“You mean there’s room in my car,” Piper interrupted haughtily. “You seriously need to get your own car.”
“Right, I’ll just get a license and car overnight. Maybe I’ll win the lottery at the same damn time too.” Jared tried to hand Piper the crumpled up five dollars again. “Just take it, okay? I feel guilty enough needing rides from you. Just because the town can’t afford a bus doesn’t mean you should have to be my shuttle to college without some sort of compensation.”
“Uh, I think we’ve been clear about this. If you would stop bitching and just let me dress you all hot like, I’d be happily compensated.” Piper flattened the money on her desk and then carefully folded it into a small rectangle. She turned back and tucked the bill into Jared’s hand. “I need a macho boy to model some of my clothes for class.”
“No. No way in fuck!” Jared’s nostrils flared, and he stumbled back. “I’d rather be broke.”
Piper pouted and crossed her arms over her chest. “Come on, I promise nothing will be pink. Well, maybe a bit of hot pink. It’s very metro-sexual.”
“What did you just call me?” Jared’s face turned red. His gaze darted to Ky before he ducked around and grabbed his backpack.
Ky had to wonder just what Piper’s idea of men’s clothes were to freak Jared out so much. Anything would be better than what the guy was wearing now. His jeans were dusty and torn, and not in a stylish way. He wore a grungy gray tee under his long sleeve blue and gray flannel shirt that was so faded it was nearly palatable. Ky eyed his chest as he tried to distinguish which band was supposedly featured with the worn lettering.
Jared’s shoes were even worse. There was a hole so big in one of them, it was a surprise his foot didn’t fall out. The strip of duct-tape wasn’t doing a lot for it, and hung off the edge like a dirty, ragged flag.
You could disguise poverty better in the city. The local Goodwill where Ky grew up had clothes from people who only wore things a few times before they were thrown away for the next big trend. Not so much in Blackstone Falls where clothes were a commodity more than anything to do with fashion. It only made Ky’s mood worse when he thought of his closet full of shredded clothes back home.
Fuck his life if he ended up dressed in flannel.
“Ask him to model your clothes. I mean, he looks like a model and, uh…” Jared’s fluster only grew worse when Ky looked his way. “Nothing. I didn’t, uh… I really need to get this cat thing done, like, now.”
Piper raised an eyebrow when Jared headed for the door without her.
“He’ll figure it out eventually,” Ky said with faint amusement in his voice.
“I think ‘little Jared’ is doing all the thinking at the moment.” Piper twitched her finger to exaggerate her point. “So, are you into that?” She nodded her head to where Jared exited.
“Am I into sexually confused guys who can’t get over their hang-ups to even wear something that might make them look hot?” Ky shrugged noncommittally.
A month ago, Jared could have been interesting. More than interesting, really. He was hot, and although in the closet so deep he couldn’t see the walls, he still had the guts to stand up to the kind of guys who thought Ky was a target for being different. It didn’t hurt that he was easy to rile up. Jared was the type of guy he could tease the fuck out of right into his pants.
Ky reached up and let his fingers touch the chain links on his collar. A month could change a lot of things.
“You like older guys,” Piper said sagely.
Ky shook out of his thoughts and grabbed the top of his backpack. “I like guys who have their shit together.”
Guys who wouldn’t freak at the idea of magic, or worse, get super excited like they just won the lottery. Definitely not a sorcerer, that was for fuck sure. But maybe a guy with horns and fangs that nipped just right. Someone who could pin him down and growl until his toes curled…
“So, yeah, older.”
Ky shrugged. He was pretty sure age had nothing to do with it.
“Shit, Piper, are you coming or not?” Jared apparently remembered Piper was his ride. His expression was stormy as he charged back into the room.
“I still have to see Babin.” Piper didn’t flinch at Jared’s frustrated scowl. “I also don’t know if Ky is coming with.”
She turned back to Ky. “I really don’t mind if you want to come. We can show you around the town.”
Ky paused when they both turned to him expectantly. He knew they were the same age as him, but they seemed so young. Weak, naive. Human. They had no idea what he was, or what Blackstone Falls hid just beneath the surface. Piper was worried over grades that wouldn’t protect her from a crazy sorcerer, and Jared’s biggest fear was if his friends found out he was queer.
Ky’s chest felt tight, and he looked away without speaking. He couldn’t be like them anymore. He couldn’t go back.
Ky grabbed his bag by the strap. “I have to go.”
“Oh.” Piper wasn’t deterred. “What about tomorrow?”
“No, definitely not tomorrow.” Ky snarled as he thought of Mr. Moore’s threat to basically kidnap him if he didn’t show up willingly. He couldn’t have normal people in his life, not with the damn monsters he was dealing with.
Ky started for the door. “I need to go.”
“Wait, let me get your number. I really want your take on some of my clothing patterns.”
“Not interested.” Ky stopped short when Piper jumped in front of him and pulled out her phone. His nerves felt frayed, and he was starting to get angry. “I’ve got better things to do than hang out in front of the town’s only ice cream shop hoping to tip a fucking cow.”
Piper paused and looked up from her phone. “That’s just a myth. We have two ice cream shops.” She sighed when Ky refused to crack a smile. “Listen, I just wanted to show you around a bit. You’re new, the place is kinda shit, whatever. I’ve been surrounded by the same three hundred faces for, like, forever. We don’t get a lot of new people around here.”
“Not like you, anyways,” Jared mumbled under his breath.
“Geez, suck his dick already,” Piper snarked.
Jared coughed awkwardly. “That’s not… I mean… Uh…” His cheeks flushed and his eyes darted toward the door.
Ky wondered if he’d bolt again. Piper didn’t give him a choice and hip checked him.
Jared stumbled and quickly recovered. “Damn it, you’re lucky you’re a girl.”
Piper stuck her tongue out. “You’re the idiot who thinks I can’t take a punch.”
Ky stifled a sigh. He suddenly felt terrible, and more, he hated that he cared. Why did they have to be so damn normal?
“I have to go.”
Jared stood taller at the rejection and crossed his arms over his chest. “What, you have a hot date?”
Ky shook his head and smiled bitterly. Fucking whore. “Yeah, I’m late to be gang banged by three hot as fuck, totally horny guys. Now, if you’ll excuse me…” He went to push past the two and jerked when Jared grabbed his arm.
Jared’s expression turned sheepish when Ky whirled and glared at him. “I didn’t mean… Sorry. I wasn’t saying it was a queer thing.”
“I’m gay,” Ky snapped. “Every reference to my sexuality is going to be a ‘queer thing.’ Are we done here?”
“Shit, I’m just trying to apologize.” Jared ran a hand through his hair and released a heavy breath. “Frank is an asshole. I don’t… Who people sleep with isn’t anyone’s business.”
Ky pressed a hand to his temple as pain flared again. The last thing he expected was an apology, and it sure as fuck wasn’t Jared’s job to be giving it for someone else’s shitty behavior. For all his fluster and bravado, he was a decent guy.
Ky’s gaze drifted down when Jared’s tongue darted out a moment to lick his lips. He might have been hot too, even with the ugly flannel.
“Are you okay?” Jared asked when Ky wavered on his feet.
“I’m fine,” Ky snapped. “I just want to go home. I missed breakfast and…” Ky’s brows furrowed as he tried to remember the last thing he ate. His mouth pinched tight and stomach churned.
Tobias. The last thing he ate was Tobias. Fucker.
The room dimmed at the edges, and Ky quickly pushed past Jared and Piper and escaped into the hallway.
Fuck, he didn’t care if he looked like a lunatic. He couldn’t do this today. He never should have gone to school.
“Hey, you forgot your notebook.”
Ky barely heard Jared as he pushed his heavy legs forward and tried to keep from collapsing. The hallway felt closed in, dark, and kept tilting at the most annoying angles. Ky lurched to a stop when his vision was suddenly filled with blue flannel and a faded gray tee.
“You dropped your notebook.” Jared held it up while Ky glared.
He seriously needed a new bag.
“Listen, do you need help? You look…” Jared swallowed hard when Ky’s gaze moved to his, and his silver eyes glinted with an otherworldly, cerulean glow. “Damn.”
Ky’s heartbeat sounded loud in his ears as blue filled his vision. He could smell the sweat on Jared’s flesh and hear the sharp inhale of his breath. His gaze slipped down to take in the breadth of his strong shoulders, and his fit chest half obscured by ill-fitting clothes. Ky’s eyes fixed on the flutter at his neck that revealed Jared’s pulse was racing. Heat flushed through Ky’s body and he fought the overwhelming urge to press forward.
Jared was hot and clearly into him. Ky glanced down and exhaled slowly when he saw Jared’s jeans were failing to hide his erection. Fuck, it’s not like it would be the end of the world if he kissed him… touched him. Ground up against him until they both came.
Ky’s breath sped up when Jared stepped closer. Getting off right now would feel really fucking good. He was so hungry. Ky was starving and Jared looked just as ravenous…
Hot breath brushed his cheek, and Ky jolted back to reality. The room spun, and he grabbed the wall and ducked his head to avoid Jared’s lips.
What the fuck was he thinking? Human. The guy was fucking human and so closeted he made the wardrobe back home look like daylight.
“Give me my book,” Ky rasped. He licked dry lips and fought to will the hungry glow from his eyes.
Jared couldn’t stop staring at his face, and his gaze roamed over Ky’s features, his heavy eyelids, and lingered on his lips.
“We should hang out sometime. I’m not… I’m not like those other guys,” Jared assured quietly.
A mean smile split across Ky’s face. “Liking dick doesn’t get you an automatic pass into my pants.”
No, apparently just having a dick was enough for him lately.
With a scowl, Ky snatched his notebook from Jared’s hand and staggered past. He rolled his eyes when he saw a phone number written on the back in a sparkling purple gel pen. Fuck, that girl did not give up. Ky walked faster to escape the weight of Jared’s gaze as he stared after him.
His head pounded with every erratic pulse of his heart and wavering step he took. There was something wrong with him. Not just the whole turning into a slut and ready to fuck any guy who looked at him twice. No, there was something seriously wrong with him.
The corridor blurred before his eyes as Ky forced himself forward. When he was able to focus again he was staring at an unfamiliar wall of lockers. His bag was on the ground, and his notebook, pens, and Tobias’s wand spilled out around his motionless feet. Ky blinked in confusion and tried to remember when he got there or how he dropped his bag. His mind felt like a dark void, and it was hard to make sense of anything.
Ky? Ky, can you hear me?
Ky shook his head and groaned when it throbbed in protest.
Lovely’s voice grew more concerned. Ky, are you okay? Your energy is all over the place.
“I don’t… I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” Ky felt too heavy, and he unsteadily sank to his knees. He hunched forward, his face hidden behind his hair as he gasped for breath.
Crazy. He was a crazy person. He kept hearing voices in his head. Crazy people never knew they were actually crazy until they were locked up or shooting down a crowd of people.
Ky? Ky, call for me.
Ky winced at the frantic sound of Lovely’s voice. “I’m fine,” he whispered weakly. “Leave me alone.”
He didn’t want Lovely’s help. The relics betrayed him, Lovely worst of all, and he couldn’t face them.
Ky slumped forward and drew in weak breaths. He stared at his shaking hands with unfocused eyes. The hallway was silent, the temperature cool on his flushed skin, and Ky lost track of time as he counted his breaths and the world spun around him.
Whelp. Feral’s voice was strange in his mind. It was the first time he had spoken to Ky this way, and with his voice came his presence, warm and sturdy just like the coyote demon. Let me reach you.
Ky gritted his teeth and growled. Feral couldn’t handle leaving the manor never mind coming to his fucking school.
“Go away. Just leave me the fuck alone, all of you!” He lurched forward and clutched the cold laminate floor when a wave of dizziness hit him.
When Feral returned, his voice was subdued. Ky, you’re scaring him. Both of them.
Ky closed his eyes and hissed out. Feral sounded too quiet, like maybe he was scared too.
Please, whelp. You need help.
Damn it. Fucking damn it, why couldn’t everyone just leave him alone today?
Ky snarled at the floor he was practically kissing at this point. His hair was fanned out around his face like a dark, silky curtain. “Fine,” he snapped weakly. “Just you.”