A section to comment on the Awakening series. You may find polls here, secrets answered, character bios–I’m not sure exactly yet. Please, if you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them!
Evan found the group of students starting next term down the long hall and through two more large rooms. It had taken him a moment, statues still littering every room, to realize he had finally found the living and not just a colorful version of the inanimate.
It was also at this time that he realized that as formally dressed as he was, he was by no means appropriately dressed if he wanted to fit in. It was a mistake, one that Beverly would not approve of because he definitely stuck out in his suit and robes among the leather clad forms of the others. They were all dressed in Clan garb, looking like they had walked off the hunting field, or more the ritual dance depicting the hunt afterwards. Most of the clothes were still ornamental among their leather and blades, jewels and rich silks mixed in with dragon hides, leviathan scales, griffin feathers, and even one dazzling firefox fur. Evan was extremely underdressed and the eyes turning towards him as he walked in the door were already judging him for it.
He squared his shoulders and straightened, refusing to feel intimidated. He had spent a lifetime dressed in rags because Stephan didn’t think he deserved what it would cost to clothe him properly. He had never let that get to him, and he wasn’t going to let some damn overprivileged sorcerer brats think he was any less just because of his clothing. Hell, they were all just trying to show each other off anyways. It would be one thing if they were dressed for battle, at least that would have been useful. Evan wasn’t even sure how half the girls were walking, their heels so tall and skirts too tight.
There were about thirty people his own age and he suppressed another feeling of dread as he took a stance behind the group and faced towards the podium where they were gathered. The Hierarchy’s schools were by continent. In all of North America, this was all that was worthy to grace their hallways? It would be harder to slip through the cracks when there were so few students in his year.
He tried to avoid the curious gazes floating back his way, staring instead at the speaker that had yet to start speaking, the man chatting with his colleague animatedly. The students were in groups, and given they were all dressed alike, Evan had to imagine that they knew each other. Another disadvantage he could do little about. Not that it mattered. Making friends would only entrench him deeper into this world he wished to escape.
Someone slipped beside him, Evan glancing over when they stepped too close into his personal space. It was a girl, nearly as tall as him, looking more clan than ornamental with her dirty blond hair dreaded and weaved with pink and blue feathers, snakebite lip rings and skintight cream colored leather top and pants that made her tanned skin seem warm and rich. Peeking down, Evan could see she was also in a heavy pair of dragonhide boots, very much without a six inch heel. Considering they were dusty, she might of literally stepped away from a hunt to spend her weekend at the Hierarchy. She seemed less obnoxious if by clothing alone, but it didn’t mean Evan wanted her on his foot, so he took a step to the side to get some space.
Only, the girl took another step towards him, head ducked, eyes glancing his way curiously. Glaring, Evan took a large step away. “What?” He snapped when she went to follow him. “There’s plenty of room without crowding me.”
“You don’t like me,” she said with a bright smile, violet eyes glinting mischievously as she looked him over.
“I don’t even know you,” Evan said cautiously, not sure what her game was. She had a wide stance that fit well with the warrior blades strapped to her back. Very confident, very strong, very beautiful. Also, not completely human now that he saw her pointed ears covered in studs and rings, fanged teeth and long talons, which was probably why she was dressed like Clan and not in a costume.
“Well, you’re going to get to know me because you’re the first person in the place to not try to get in my pants after five seconds of being next to me,” the girl said bluntly, holding her hand out. “I’m Gilda Frey.”
Staring at her claws for a moment, Evan eventually shook the girl’s hand, her grip strong. “I’m Evan. And I’m gay, so that would be the reason for that, I guess,” he said with an awkward shrug. He really didn’t go trying to get into anyone’s pants, very much not wanting to complicate his already fucked up life.
“You’d think so, but I’m a Siren and it really doesn’t matter what you’re into when around me.” She tilted her head towards the people in front of them, Evan noticing now how the closer ones, boys and girls, had turned, staring at Gilda with very dazed expressions. Smirking, she stepped back, tugging his sleeve until he followed. It took a few steps but eventually each dazed face flushed and returned to staring at the podium as they waited for the orientation to start.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” Evan said. “I’ve never met a Siren, so I really can’t say how I would act to one, guy or girl.”
“No, seriously, it really isn’t effected by gender… But we could test you out, just to see,” she mussed, looking around the room. “No male Sirens, but there are plenty of lust powered Clans around. We could try Dren, but his power doesn’t really work unless he’s trying… Ah, Vesper. Vesper is very strong. He has to stand across the room just to keep the prey off of him.”
Evan started, having gone to follow the girl’s gaze only to turn back. “Prey?”
“The pretty things that get sucked into my allure.” Pinning him with a piercing gaze, she smiled, revealing sharp fangs. “When you feed off of sex, you can’t help but see things a bit different.”
Evan swallowed hard, scratching the back of his head. “What… so you… eat people?”
Eyes widening in surprise, Gilda burst out laughing. “Oh my god, you’re like, like, so new to all this, aren’t you? Are you from some powerless family or something?”
Glancing at the people once again looking back at him, Evan didn’t answer right away. Maybe it would have been easier if he was just some ignorant hick that had never heard of sorcery, but this was the Hierarchy and being ignorant was far more dangerous than anything else. “I’m not Clan and I never met anyone Clan,” he said evenly, glad when the girl finally stopped her chuckling.
“Ah, I suppose that’s fair enough,” Gilda said lightly, once again stepping just a little too close for comfort. She ducked her head, whispering in his ear. “I’m not a cannibal, idiot. I drink down desire. It’s completely harmless… Unless you’re a prude, or something, and freak out over things like that.”
Evan could not tell if Gilda was absolutely annoying, or charming. She was definitely bold… And trying to lick him. He quickly placed a hand on her forehead and pushed her back, glaring at the smirking girl. “I don’t care what you fucking say, that is not some Clan greeting.”
“Will you look at that, you were able to push me back and everything.” Gilda’s smirk only grew the more annoyed Evan got, and he realized she was once again just testing to see if he responded to whatever magic she had that made everyone stop and stare at her.
“Are you trying to piss me off?” He wiped the side of his neck with the sleeve of his robe.
Gilda shrugged. “When all everyone does it stare at you and most of the time can barely say a word, you start looking forward to conversation. Even angry conversation. There are four other lust creatures in our class and I can talk to them easy enough. But we don’t much because we’re all just too alike.”
Evan relaxed slightly when he understood Gilda wasn’t actually trying to upset him. She was bold, she was blunt, and she was honest; all qualities he respected in a person. “Predators don’t get along much.”
“Exactly.” She smiled wider, fangs again making an appearance. “Competition. I had thought maybe you were one of us, walking in here in such inconspicuous clothing to lure the pretties into a false state of calm before you started hunting them down. But now, I can’t be so sure.”
“I’m not hunting people,” Evan said, amused.
“I can see that. But you’re also not one of the pretty prey flitting around… Not that you aren’t very pretty.”
“I’m also still very gay,” he reminded with a cough, not happy to hear himself refered to as being pretty.
Slinging an arm over his shoulders, Gilda pointed near the front of the room. “I prefer sweet things with thick thighs and hips like red over there. Most of the girls around here are very much conceited bitches and hardly sweet, though.”
Evan nodded. He was apparently not competition in any sense. “So you all know each other?”
“Years now. All sorcerers do is network. It’s damn exhausting, especially once they pegged me and started setting up inhibitors to keep me from hunting during the gatherings.” Resting lightly on the boy, she glanced down at his name badge. “It is definitely the first time I have seen you, Mr. Evanel Umbra Reed. Yet here you are at the Hierarchy of all places. How exactly does that happen?”
“Listen, Gilda, I’m more than happy to talk to you, but could you not be so touchy?” Evan lifted her arm off from around his shoulders. Physical contact was uncomfortable for him as it was, never mind with someone that kept referring to herself as a predator.
“Just the way of my kind,” she said unapologetically. “Get in my face about it enough and I’ll probably remember.”
Again, Evan found her blunt honesty appealing. She really didn’t give a fuck about anything. “My mother was Cecilia Reed. She attended here, back—”
“Oh, I know who Cecilia Reed is,” Gilda interrupted. “So you’re her bastard son, huh?”
Grinning wryly, Evan nodded. “The one and only.”
“Shit, no wonder you never came to the little socialite parties. These vicious bitches would have torn you apart.”
“Well, if you need to distance yourself to protect your reputation, I completely understand.” Evan had seen it happen before when he was younger and hadn’t understood what it meant to not know who his father was. Sorcerers were snobby, pretentious assholes that spent more time during the day listing off all their powerful relatives than actually bothering to do something substantial. He had lost friends that had been just as naïve as him until ultimately someone had informed them he wasn’t ‘appropriate’ and they had moved on. Then Stephen Grock had moved into his life and Evan had stopped even thinking about making friends.
“Please, I’m full blooded Clan and we don’t give a crap about who fucked who to produce whom. That you’re not drooling at my feet is fine enough for me.” Smiling broadly, she smacked Evan on the back, then went to put her arm on his shoulders. Evan intercepted the girl, stepping to the side and looking at her meaningfully. “Right, no touchy.”
There was a small commotion to the side, a large, angry man pushing a rather red faced boy back into the center of the crowd and away from the side of the room. Evan glanced further as he felt someone staring at him, ice blue eyes meeting his for the briefest of moments. Evan couldn’t help but stare once catching sight of the boy across the room. He was as pale as one of the statues, toned and lithe, his nearly bare chest and arms looking more sculpted than real under his straps of black leather. His hair was a bright curtain of shimmering platinum that brushed his shoulders and continued down to the center of his back, starting at his forehead in a sharp widow’s peak.
With his strong, aristocratic features and sharp eyes, he looked like some damn mystical elf, except Evan didn’t think elves ever grew over five feet, so probably not that. Definitely Clan… Another proper and predatory Clan, given the straps on his chest connected to weapons on his back. He was in some sort of ceremonial kilt, white wispy silk layered under heavy black hide and wrapped in more straps and buckles, his legs clad in leather pants underneath and heavy dragonhide boots. The boy glanced his way again and Evan immediately looked back towards the podium, not interested in getting caught staring like an idiot. Whoever he was, the boy was beautiful and likely dangerous.
“God, will this thing ever start?” Gilda muttered, flipping her dreadlocks over her shoulder.
“Are we waiting on someone?” Evan asked, trying to ignore the feeling of those sharp eyes touching on him again from the side of the room. That probably wasn’t right, being able to tell someone was looking at you. But he could tell and he couldn’t stop noticing now that he had seen the boy.
There was another commotion, the same angry man wrangling two students by their collars and dragging them towards the center of the room. Gilda glanced over this time, tsking softly. “That creature is a menace. That he’s allowed in here at all is insulting.”
Evan watched as the bald man manhandled the two girls, snapping at them to get a damn clue before striding away. He followed with his gaze, the man moving to the side and, sure enough, stopping in front of the beautiful boy that kept looking at him. Evan was certain he kept looking at him because the boy was definitely looking at him now, blue eyes almost glowing as they moved up and down his form curiously.
“Vesper Malice’s wild guard dog,” Gilda disclosed in his ear. “Don’t tangle with that bastard of a beast. He’s been enchanted not to kill but you never know with his type. Maiming and crippling aren’t quite death, after all. Vesper only has so much control over the thing.”
Eyes straying away from the pale boy, Evan took a better look at the angry man. He was unnaturally tall, muscles puffing out of his broad chest and wide shoulders even though he was in a suit. He didn’t wear sunglasses, something Evan had just assumed a bodyguard to do. No, the man’s eyes were bare, allowing everyone to see the strange fiery red orbs, no white in sight. Gold lines flowed like cracks over his face and skin, making Evan wonder just what the hell he was. “Why is he so… cracked?”
“Hellspawn. His master is a full demon, not to mention an essence eater. The dog might not be so terrible but his master is, and that’s who you deal with if you cross Vesper.”
“You mean… that boy over there is a demon?” Evan asked in a hushed whisper.
“Hell, no—You really are out of the loop. Thank god you’re pretty,” Gilda said with a shake of her head, feathers ruffling from the movement. “Vesper’s master is a demon, and a right terrible one. If you ever see the kid’s back, you’ll get it. He’s got a tattoo nearly covering all of it. He’s been marked by the demon, contracted to feed the hideous thing until one of them dies—Likely Vesper, given how long the monstrous creature has been around. That’s why he’s got the dog; to keep idiots away from his allure. The demon is a jealous thing and will probably kill anyone that makes an actual move on his prey.”
Dread shivered down Evan’s spine, his eyes again drawn to the platinum haired boy still looking his way. “What… What will the demon do to him?”
Exhaling sharply, Gilda suddenly stepped to the other side of Evan, blocking him from sight of the pale boy. “Essence eaters consume life force, not desire. Vesper’s contract starts on his birthday, when he will be slowly fed off of for how long, or how short as his fucked up master can control himself. Ten years tends to be the most a normal person can hold out, and thats with a weak demon. Vesper is not normal, and his demon is not weak. His demon is strong enough to manipulate contracts and worm its way into the Malice line, feeding off their ancestors for generations now.”
“Is this… Is this normal?” Evan asked hoarsely, realizing the beautiful boy was marked for death. “I knew demons existed but I thought they were used by sorcerers, not, well, masters of sorcerers.”
“It is unusual but not unheard of. The Malices are the most notorious for this particular problem. They bred the strongest magically and were targeted for it. They thought they were on the top of the food chain with their unearthly beauty, impossible allure and godlike powers, and then they found a predator even worse than them.”
Evan didn’t say anything as Gilda explained the situation as if it were just simple math and nature. The boy over there had not chosen his power, his family, his face or his fate. He had just been born into a bloodline where a demon feasted and he had been unfortunate enough to have caught the creature’s eye.
“So, everyone knows about this and the Malice line, and no one has done anything to help?” He finally asked, anger creeping into his voice.
“Look at you, giving a shit about an absolute stranger.” Gilda snorted softly. “What do you think would happen to anyone that tried to help? Like I said, the Malice line is about the oldest, strongest family of sorcerers out there. If they can’t defeat the beast, who the hell can? At least they were able to contract with it, keeping it from just draining them all dry in one go. They gain power from the union—Definitely an increase in fertility. Some of them probably think it’s a sweet tradeoff.”
“I have a feeling that kid over there doesn’t share your opinion,” Evan said tightly.
“He was bred for it. Like cattle for a burger. Vesper has known the score since the day he was born, so don’t waste your tears on him. He will exploit everything he can because he knows his life is short. His existence has been very comfortable up to this point and will continue to be. Not all of us can even have a guarantee of that.”
Evan just shook his head, shocked with the entire thing including how cold and heartless Gilda was about it. He was almost relieved when there was a sudden noise from the front, the crowd silencing and turning to watch as the Dean finally approached to speak. Evan tried to pay attention but his mind kept wandering back to the boy leaning against the pillars, forced to stand so far away just to keep everyone safe.
Part of the reason Evan had stuffed down any inkling of magic deep inside him and far from sight was because of Stephen Grock. Stephen was not a demon but he was a monster. He had figured out at a very young age that Stephen wanted power, and if he saw it, he would take it. Even from a small, parentless child. Evan knew what it was like to live with a predator, and not the silky, domestic type like Gilda, who was once again leaning her arm on him. Evan lived with a warlock that hated him for his bloodline and the power it naturally held while coveting it at the same time. When the warlock’s anger grew, usually after blissing out on elixirs with Beverly, he also struck out, having beaten Evan more times than he could count only to charm the marks and bruises away from sight even though the pain and scars remained.
Edward, Beverly’s son, might be able to get away with having power in front of Stephan because his mother protected him. Evan was on his own, his mother missing and probably long dead and his father an absolute mystery. Beverly was willing to give him a roof but not protection, very much a believer of survival of the fittest. Maybe Evan was stronger for it, maybe he had learned to hide and step careful or whatever nonsense his guardian liked to preach when flashing back to her time in the war. But that was him against one monster of a man. The silver haired boy was up against a demon that had ravaged his entire bloodline. It hardly seemed fair to expect him to be able to survive.
Evan closed his eyes, wincing inwardly. That wasn’t quite right. Gilda did not seem to think the boy would survive at all, just hold out for as long as possible, trying not to drown in the sick hunger of a demon.
He should mind his own business. There was nothing he could do but pity the boy. Evan had no magic, or at least, none he was willing to use. He was just some naïve, idealistic kid wishing to run away from his own crappy fate while hoping to help others do the same. The silver haired boy was in the same situation he was, just with a set master and type of death tattooed into his pale skin in black ink. They would not be able to help each other.
Evan hung back with Gilda when the group began to disperse and was led to the cafeteria for a quick meal before beginning the tour of the grounds. She had to keep her distance or her allure would start drawing students to her naturally. Evan didn’t mind, not interested in walking with the large group anyways. They weren’t the only ones to hang back, and he had a sinking suspicion that although Gilda might not enjoy talking with the other lust creatures, it was usually forced on her given they all had to deal with the same problem of keeping their distance from the crowd.
“Who’s the angry eyed thing?” A boy came up, tall with wild brown hair framing a wolfishly handsome face. He was wrapped head to toe in black clinging leather and silver chains. That he managed to walk and not make a sound while wearing the outfit was actually impressive. That he was staring at Evan like dessert was less so, and he glared back, trying not to flinch at the strange amber eyes fixed on him.
“You can read, Devlan,” Gilda said distractedly, gaze following the back of the redheaded girl she had been looking at earlier.
“If you insist,” the boy said with a smirk, fingers suddenly pulling at Evan’s robe, tugging him closer and glancing down at his name badge. “Reed… So the prodigal bastard has found his way home after all. I wasn’t expecting you to be so pretty.”
“Get the fuck off me, creep,” Evan snapped, pulling away.
“Oh, you don’t like me at all.” That the boy’s smirk grew to downright wicked. His voice, a low, seductive purr, did not do much for Evan’s nerves.
“Leave him alone,” Gilda said, turning to Devlan with a pointed stare. “He’s about the damn near most normal person I’ve had a chance to talk to without anyone drooling on my boots. I don’t need you pissing him off and sending him to hide with the prey.”
“Fine, whatever. I can’t help that’s he’s pretty and interesting enough to not like me,” Devlan muttered, holding his hands up in resignation. “And believe me, that is very interesting.”
It apparently was because when Evan looked up there were five sets of predatory eyes all staring at him, Gilda included. “Right… So you must all be… Sirens?” He asked tightly, glaring back at each of them. The silver haired boy was among them, his hellspawn bodyguard off to the side, the demonic creature more interested in the group of prey that kept being drawn to the boy than the predators he ranked among.
“Corinth, the chocolate bombshell of breasts and hips, is the only other Siren,” Gilda said abruptly, beckoning the girl forward. “We hail from the same Clan but, as you can see, we vary a lot in looks.”
Corinth was much more feminine from dress to shape, her dark umber skin clad in a deep burgundy leather dress. She had her hair shiny and straight, feathers of the same red peeking through. Her eyes were the only thing actually similar to Gilda, violet and stunning. Shaking her hand, Evan had an awkward thought. “Um, are all Sirens female?”
“They are, which is why we’re trying very hard not to laugh at you,” Devlan said mildly, reaching his hand out. “I’m your run of the mill Incubus. You’ve been out of the loop for a while, Reed. You better watch what you say or we might confuse you for one of the fluffy, pretty things we like to hunt.”
“Right, so you’re an asshole,” Evan said flatly, extracting his hand from the tight grip trying to crush his fingers.
“Yes, which just makes it even nicer that you really don’t like me for it.” Devlan looked over to Gilda, eyebrows quirking. “I was trying to figure out why you were hanging all over the sweet thing. That he kept pushing you away was fucking priceless.”
Evan was about to snap something at the rude boy when someone else stepped up and he automatically stepped back before even looking. Then Evan did see the new boy and he took another step back, warning prickling at the nape of his neck. “Er… Hello?”
The boy was stillness itself, tanned skin draped in black silks and not much else. Short and slender, he could have been much younger, but Evan thought he was actually older than all of them. He hadn’t even noticed him, everyone else so much more active and loud. He wore no shoes, instead covered in flat gold metal bracelets and anklets, including a belt of the same material. He looked like he had stepped out of a burning hot desert, white sand still clinging to his feet. There was something very unsettling about his expressionless, beautiful face and pale green eyes, his black hair long and sleek and pulled back in a low ponytail.
Devlan noticed Evan’s unease with interest. “He’s even scared of Asher.”
Evan flicked his gaze from the boy called Asher, looking to Gilda. “Should I be scared?”
Gilda shrugged, her eyes sharp as they turned to the boy who still hadn’t said anything or moved, just staring at Evan with eyes lined with dark kohl. “Asher is a bit different from the rest of us. He could stand in a crowd for hours and have no one notice him, no one effected at all…”
Eyes snapping back to the boy before him, Evan took another step back, warning sparking again. Gilda, Corinth and even the obnoxious Devlan were still domestic in his mind. This one was not, very much feeling like he was staring down a wild animal debating whether he was a meal or not.
“I will not harm you,” the boy said suddenly, his voice smooth and sultry and even more concerning to Evan’s senses because his eyes could not track the movement of his lips.
“But you want to,” Evan whispered, eyes narrowing and heart rate picking up as a shiver of fear went down his spine. He looked down, seeing now that the boy was holding his hand out as if to shake. Wetting his lips, Evan slowly reached out, stilling before he actually made contact, feeling an energy surrounding the boy’s flesh that just screamed danger. He withdrew his hand, taking another step back, eyes never leaving Asher’s face.
“Maybe not prey after all,” Devlan mussed. “We sure as fuck would never touch Asher.”
Evan was starting to wish he had ignored Gilda’s weird behavior and had just gone into the crowd of snobbish, but ultimately harmless, students.
“Come now, Asher has never harmed anyone. That we know of,” Gilda said carefully, placing a calming hand on Evan’s shoulder. “He’s got some djin in him and it just makes it feel like he’s going to slice you to shreds if you make any sudden movements. He has been perfectly respectable for as long as we’ve known him.”
Evan didn’t comment, just glad when the slender boy finally backed off. Asher made him think of blood freshly spilled and he had a feeling the boy knew it.
They all turned to the last of the group yet to greet Evan, Devlan chuckling mirthlessly at Vesper’s sharp expression, the pale boy still standing aside as if not wanting to get too close. “What’s wrong, dragon boy? If the pretty thing is this close and not succumbing, then he’s safe enough to approach and you know it.”
Vesper gave a huff, looking at Evan warily as he crossed the distance. He stopped feet away, standing a couple inches taller, luminous skin radiating something Evan couldn’t quite put his finger on. Likely the allure that forced him to have to be separated from everyone else.
“Come on, say something mean to the kid. See how he reacts,” Devlan said gleefully. Evan rolled his eyes, wondering if Devlan was going to be an ass to him forever just because he actually bothered to put the Incubus in his place in response. He’d have to stop reacting if that was the case.
“Sorry about him,” Vesper said quietly, his voice low and melodic and drawing Evan’s full attention. “We don’t get a lot of people we can talk to. And well, as you can see, we really don’t know how to be around others properly, anyways.”
“Who the fuck wants to be around them? They’re about as boring as you, Vesper,” Devlan snorted, pulling Evan by the elbow until they were both in front of the pale boy.
Evan growled, knocking his shoulder into the much taller brunette. The guy was damn annoying. “Will you get off me already?” He snapped, about ready to start punching.
Devlan slipped behind him and grabbed his biceps, holding Evan in place. “Chill out, pretty thing.”
“And stop calling me pretty!” Evan snarled, trying to wrest his shoulders free.
Ignoring him, Devlan spoke over his head. “Probably the angriest thing you’ve seen outside of your guard dog, huh, Malice? It’s got to be refreshing, considering the reach on your damn allure. When was the last time you saw anything this damn pretty want to beat the shit out of someone up close?”
Realizing that once again he was just some damn prop, Evan stopped fighting and went limp. It took a moment for Devlan’s hands to eventually loosen, the brunette bending his head to see if Evan was okay.
“Crap, did I break him?” Devlan asked worriedly, giving the blond a little shake that he managed not to react to. “Come on, Reed, I was only…”
“Being an ass, I know. Now let me go,” Evan demanded, sighing when he was finally released.
“Shit, should have known he was playing possum,” Devlan muttered, ducking away before Gilda could hit him.
Evan watched, eyes narrowed, hand absentmindedly pushing his bangs back in place. “That guys a total ass.”
“He is. It’s how he deals with his situation,” Vesper said, drawing Evan’s gaze again. This close, the boy was ridiculously beautiful, his eyes definitely glowing blue surrounded by frosted lashes and first snow skin. “He’s an incubus, usually nocturnal, usually part of a large, powerful clan. His people were wiped out during the war and he’s one of the few left. Loneliness breeds hostility…” Vesper trailed off, glancing away, making Evan wonder why the boy was not as hostile seeming as Devlan.
Evan had been alone for a long time for different reasons than allures and demon masters. He understood what it was to lose a family and to never quite have a good enough replacement. He also knew what it was like to completely isolate by choice, to protect others and himself from the messed up things in his life. Maybe he could forgive Devlan for being an ass… Just likely not that moment.
“Right. So.” Evan wanted to ask what Vesper was but there was just something about the boy that seemed to unbalance him. He probably shouldn’t be staring. Everyone always stared at these particular people and him staring at the pale boy was likely not polite. But he was very nice to stare at, and Evan was having difficulty looking away.
As if reading his mind, Vesper turned back, icy eyes searing into his. “I am descended from the celestial dragons. A race of creatures that could shapeshift. They are no longer on this planet but my bloodline still continues.”
Evan smiled faintly, raising his eyebrows. “For real? Dragon?”
Vesper nodded solemnly. “For real. We refer to them as the Scion Dragons.”
“You don’t… You don’t look like a dragon,” Evan said, biting his lip while letting his eyes wander down the boy’s nearly glowing pale skin, tones of pink and blue just catching in the light bouncing off Vesper’s neck and chest. “But if you were, I think you’d be in the mountains, right? With the snow… and clouds.” He clicked his mouth shut, realizing he must sound like an absolute idiot.
“You would be correct,” Vesper said, his low voice showing a hint of amusement. “If you were to touch me, you would see that my body temperature is actually warmer than most to accommodate such cold conditions.”
Blinking at the ice blue eyes that seemed to be glowing even brighter, Evan hesitantly raised his hand towards the boy’s toned arm. He hovered inches away, feeling the heat and magic roiling off Vesper’s pale form. “That’s… different,” he said, fighting the very overwhelming desire to actually touch the boy. A desire he was certain was not fully his own but might be coming from the very bright eyes burning into him.
A hand suddenly grabbed Evan’s, Gilda pulling him away from Vesper tensely. “I don’t know what the fuck you think you’re playing at, Malice. Get ahold of yourself.”
Vesper closed his eyes, breathing deep. When he opened them again, the blue glow was gone. Glancing at the group, he paused on the quiet and motionless Asher. “It won’t happen again,” he said stiffly, stepping away from the rest of them and avoiding Evan’s confused gaze.
“Relax, Gilda. He probably hasn’t talked to anyone normal in years, and that includes us,” Devlan said under his breath. “He stopped going to the gatherings once he got the tattoo. He’s just a little out of practice.”
“I don’t care. He knows the consequences. That’s why he brought his demon dog. He shouldn’t be looking at anyone like that, never mind trying to get the kid to touch him.” Gilda let go of Evan, turning to him with a serious look. “Don’t ever touch him, Evan. Ever.”
“Why?” He asked, eyes straying to where Vesper had ended up, the tall angry guard now beside him as they waited out of earshot by the exit. He hadn’t felt anything dangerous about Vesper. But then, maybe that was what made a predator dangerous? “Would he have hurt me?”
“No,” Devlan snapped, crossing his arms over his chest. “Vesper abhors violence unless it’s of a righteous nature. But she’s right. You should never touch him.”
“It’s easy to forget,” Corinth said with a sad smile. “Vesper is actually quite noble. But his demon lover will kill anyone who touches him. It’s best to just keep your distance.”
Evan was very confused now. “I thought he was owned by a demon. Not… not loved.”
“Holy hell, this boy is goddamn adorable,” Devlan said with a shake of his head. “Gilda, you best watch him because I make no promises to not hunt him down at night. That he doesn’t like me just makes it that much more fun.”
“Keep it in your pants, Devlan,” Gilda growled. “Evan, his demon master will feed off of him. He will slowly drain him dry over the years.”
“Right,” Evan said, waiting for how that was supposed to make sense to what Corinth had said.
“Vesper’s a lust creature, a dragon…” Seeing Evan was still not getting it, she rolled her eyes and finally just said, “Through sex. The demon steals his essence through sex.”
Corinth added in a kinder tone, “While a normal lust creature would only feed off desire, the demon will steal Vesper’s life essence, slowly killing him.”
“My god—How can you all just, just say that so plainly?” Evan whispered weakly, his stomach twisting in knots, heat flushing his body in a wave of nausea. “He’s going to… Shit… Be raped to death. How can you all be so fucking uncaring?”
Exchanging glances with Devlan and Corinth, Gilda finally spoke, her voice guarded. “It’s not necessarily unpleasant.”
“He is going to be killed, drained of his life before the age of thirty, and you want to tell me at least he might get off on it?” Evan hissed back, glaring at all of them. “No wonder none of you have friends. I figured anyone you called prey likely wouldn’t get along with you. But he’s supposed to be just like you and you can’t even have an actual emotion for his situation.”
Asher was suddenly in front of Evan, staring at him unblinkingly. Before he had as chance to step back, the boy grabbed his wrist, holding him in place with his slim hand. Evan tried to move but couldn’t, completely frozen, eyes wide open to see the green-eyed boy smile lazily at him. Asher would not let go and Evan could not, no matter how hard he fought, move even enough to breathe.
Through his growing panic, Evan could smell the blood. Fresh, moist, it dripped warm turrets down his hand now caught in Asher’s unbreakable grasp. Death. This strange boy was a death creature. And by his smile, he was hungry.
“Asher, what are you doing?” Gilda asked with a false sense of calm, her hand reaching to her back where she kept her blades.
Evan, his body completely frozen, felt his awareness begin to expand. He could hear the shift of fabric and chains when Devlan moved, the tall brunette stepping to get to the other side of the boy holding him captive. He could feel Corinth’s fear, the emotion almost as palpable along with the trickle of guilt that went with it as she stepped back, eyes moving from Asher to Evan’s trapped hand. He could even taste Gilda’s blade, blood having coated it recently even though it shone clean and bright now.
“Let him go, Asher,” Gilda demanded louder, her voice full of tension. Evan could feel that too, the energy in the air full of anticipated movement. But Gilda wouldn’t attack. Asher was more powerful, the boy something more than just a lust creature but a death creature. Evan stopped focusing on the others and instead brought his attention to the boy holding his wrist.
Asher was finally truly visible to Evan, the slightest swaying of his slender body as he stood, his chest rising gently with each breath he took. He actually seemed quite normal except for his fangs and his claws and the fact that he was coated in blood. It dripped down Asher’s skin, painting his tanned flesh red, his face the only part of him free of the scarlet wash. Except his mouth, his lips wet with blood, white teeth revealing red within each space between.
“Can you see me, Evanel?”
Staring at the boy, Evan tried to say yes, his mouth not moving. But Asher seemed to understand, his head tilting, eyes squinting slightly as he grinned wider and revealed more crimson stained teeth.
“I believe we share something in common. You are very similar… Can you feel it? Can you feel just how alike we are?”
Evan could not, fairly certain that whatever the fuck the boy was, they were nothing alike.
“Don’t be so quick to answer just yet.” Asher reached his other hand forward, touching Evan’s throat, claws scratching ever so threateningly against his skin. “Don’t you think it’s odd? You walked into a room full of sorcerers and ended up with the five creatures that feed off of them?”
Evan hadn’t been really thinking that at all, wondering instead if this boy was going to rip his throat out with his claws and bathe in his blood. He allowed himself to ponder the question only because Asher’s pale, leaf green eyes were very close to his and he would rather look at them and wonder how he had gotten to this moment, then focus on the blood dripping from the boy’s lips in front of him.
“You see, yes? This was your first time meeting your magical peers and you surrounded yourself with the most dangerous beings in the room. It’s a bit peculiar, isn’t it?”
Evan had to admit that yes, him feeling comfortable around a bunch of magical predators was probably very odd, especially since he did not consider himself to be one. Especially since he was certain he was going to be mauled by the particular one holding him still and baring his teeth.
Asher did not seem to be done with his one sided conversation, stepping closer, voice curling dark whispers in his ear. “And for some very confusing, very interesting reason, we all want to pet you.”
Evan stared at the boy in disbelief—At least, he felt disbelief, his face still not responding to his commands. He watched, Asher’s hand moving up, bloodied fingers brushing lightly over his bangs. Claws dug in combing long strokes, flicking Evan’s ash blond hair back and staining the locks red with each pass.
“You can see how we are similar.” Asher leaned closer, bloodstained mouth now pressed to Evan’s ear. “I give off a call to bring the weak and foolish closer so I can taste them. While you… you give off a call that brings the predators to you.”
If Evan could have gulped, he would have, feeling Asher’s tongue lick slowly up his neck. Was he calling them? Like some sort of allure?
“What are you calling us for, Evanel?” Asher whispered, his voice growing harder, a steel edge of tension. “I have never had someone call me before. I do not like it. Do you want me to taste you? Save you? Why in the world would you call a room full of hunters… just to be petted?”
“Asher, I will only say this once. Let the boy go or I will kill you.”
Evan focused away from the hand touching his hair and the mouth breathing against his throat. Vesper was a hot, blinding power in the room, his energy not only tall as it reached up to the ceiling, but beautiful refracted color and light. He was angry, restrained yet resigned, his muscles full of anticipation of deadly force. There was also a dark tone beneath it all, a primal desire to fight and kill and mate.
“Yes, he is full of dark need,” Asher whispered, Evan realizing that the boy could read everything he could as if they were merely sharing the predator’s senses while in the trapped state. “That is why the demon chose him. Out of his many cousins, Vesper had the greatest depths of need. That he denies himself at every turn only grows it greater. He wants to pet you too and cannot even allow himself that while all of us have had at least one touch of your skin.”
Evan could feel the shifts in Vesper, the anticipation growing, movement to come ever more certain while the others stepped away to give the boy room.
“I want you to remember this moment, Evanel.” Asher turned Evan’s head, forcing him to meet his eyes again. “I showed you my true self. I held your hand, I caressed your head and I tasted your skin. I did you no harm.” He stood on tiptoes, pressing a soft kiss to Evan’s lips.
Asher stepped back, hand still tight on his wrist. “I chose not to destroy you when I was clearly the superior. Remember this on the day you reveal your true self. I have earned your mercy.” Slowly he lifted his fingers from Evan’s wrist. Asher’s hand was gone, the boy was gone, the world roaring back into focus in excruciating volume.
Evan fell to his knees, gasping for air. He had not been breathing. He did not know for how long but he was faint, his sight dimmed with black, red burning his lungs and veins as oxygen returned. Blearily he could smell blood, his tastebuds tingling with the metal tang. Worse, his body was aroused as if whatever Asher had done to him had been the greatest of pleasures and not a very possible death. Evan’s skin was alive with energy, sparking each nerve and cell and filling him with unbearable need.
“Fucking… sick… blood covered… freak,” Evan panted out, fighting a moan that broke free when someone touched his arm to help him stand. Gilda immediately withdrew, Evan whimpering and resting his forehead on the floor, his skin alive with want. Turning his face, he found them all crouched around him, even the now motionless, blood free Asher, five sets of hungry eyes glaring at him. Devlan was the first to crack, fingers twitching towards him only to have Vesper hiss warningly.
“Do not!” The pale boy demanded, Devlan growling petulantly.
“But he’s just—”
“But he’s dripping! It’s just going to waste.”
“So help me, if you touch him I will slice your hand off. He has been assaulted and nearly asphyxiated. Hardly acceptable terms for a feast!”
“What harm would it do?” Corinth murmured reasonably. “It won’t injure him. It might even ease his suffering. Are you suffering, Evanel? Do you want us to help you?”
Evan was trying to figure out how a group of people, who had gone from trying to save him to trying to eat him alive, thought they were going to help him. “I would really appreciate it… if you would all just… get the fuck away from me,” he gasped out.
Devlan groaned and closed his eyes. “Angry, tasty, pretty thing.”
“You can’t really expect to stop yourselves,” Asher said smoothly. “His allure is just making it worse.”
Vesper snarled, rounding on the boy. “Allure! That you would try and justify your actions over something as impossible as allure—”
“You can pretend all you like, Vesper, but you are just as lost as the rest of us,” Devlan snapped. “You even tried to call the kid. Right next to your demon dog, you tried to call Reed to touch you. He better have an allure or you’re fucking cracking, man.”
“He does have a call. Some sort of allure,” Gilda said tightly. “We all feel it—We just spent so long thinking that such a thing wasn’t possible that we chose to ignore the plain facts of it.”
“That does not justify groping him,” Vesper said tightly.
“Just because you deny yourself at every turn, does not mean the rest of us have to,” Devlan growled lowly, his voice rougher with his restrained need. “He is saturated with desire. There is no harm to just touch his skin and taste it.”
Hissing louder, Vesper glared at Devlan, his eyes glowing bright.
“That won’t work on me, dragon boy. You can’t compel me like some fucking prey!”
Asher snickered. “Unless you’re Evanel, you mean.”
“If there is no harm in it, why have you not asked him?” Vesper shot out, ignoring Asher. “You know his answer and you wish to ignore it. He does not fall to your allure—You will be taking what isn’t freely given.”
Devlan growled again, softer. “He’s ignorant. Probably thinks we’re going to hurt him. Right, Reed?”
“Fuck… off,” Evan gritted out, wishing everyone would shut up and leave already. His body was aching, fire moving through him in wave after wave. The feeling was only getting worse, need growing inside him, threatening to overwhelm him fully. His clothes felt suffocating, harsh fabric weighing him down, wrapping around him and tangling. He pushed his robe off, grabbing for the tie that was determined to strangle him and tearing it wide, groaning as it was free.
“Evan, please try to calm down,” Gilda said quietly, soothingly. “You need to try and cool the fire in you.”
Barking a harsh laugh, Evan threaded fingers through the gaps in his shirt, buttons flying off as he wrenched down. “I’m trying… to cool off,” he whimpered, falling back against the floor, eyes catching sight of the blood all over his hand. That damn freak had been covered in blood. Asher was walking around, covered in something’s or someone’s blood.
“He won’t be able to stop the fire,” Asher said, smirking as he watched Evan flinch from his own hand and start wiping it on the floor, streaking the marble red. “I had to go to extreme measures just to see if he could even succumb. He is very resistant to compulsion.”
“You didn’t have to do anything! You could have left him the fuck alone like you do everyone else, Asher Vah!” Vesper was vibrating with barely contained rage.
Asher merely shrugged, a hiccup of a motion through his small frame. “He was interesting. Is still… very interesting.” His fingers reached for Evan, flinching back moments before Vesper swung his hand down, a long, narrow blade just missing the boy’s hand.
Evan barely noticed, struggling with his suit jacket, his arms refusing to move properly. “Damn it.” He felt trapped, drowning in fabric, every movement restricted and weak. “I can’t… For fuck… sake.” His body was agony, burning, restricted agony.
“Vesper, he’s going to hurt himself,” Gilda said urgently. “Asher has spelled him so powerfully, he’s barely conscious of us. Let us help him calm.”
Vesper didn’t say anything for a long moment, just growled low and long while watching Evan fight to get his arm free from the way he had managed to tangle it within his suit jacket. “One,” he finally grunted. “Not Asher, and only to calm him. If you try to take advantage, I’ll sic the hellspawn on you.”
Gilda, Corinth and Devlan exchanged narrowed glances. “You don’t even like boys,” Devlan said bluntly to Gilda. “Let someone that will enjoy it help him.”
“Like you want to help him,” Gilda shot back. “You’ve been clear that all you want is to screw the kid since seeing him.”
“All the more reason. I can sense he likes boys and I’m more than happy to accommodate.”
“You’re lying,” Corinth hissed. “You would say anything to gain the upper hand.”
Gilda sighed, pushing her hair back. “Oh, Devlan definitely would. But he’s right. Evan told me he was gay. He had thought that was why he was immune to my allure.”
“Pretty and naïve,” Devlan said with a wolfish grin, unfurling from his crouch.
“Wait,” Vesper growled, meeting Devlan’s eye. “Promise me you’ll have some fucking restraint. I’m not joking. He’s been through enough.”
Gaze straying towards the motionless Asher, Devlan shivered, his smile falling away. “I’ll be a perfect gentleman.”
Evan barely heard the exchange and understood even less of it. All he knew was his struggle, trying not to break his arm while getting it out of his jacket when suddenly strong hands were helping, his arm abruptly pulled free.
“Crap, what the fuck did he do—Asher, whose blood is this?” Devlan snapped, eyes taking in Evan’s mouth and neck coated in the red.
“Not his,” Asher said simply, watching Evan’s suit jacket slide across the floor, his tie quickly following.
“Damn it… just… hot,” Evan gasped out, face flushed, hair askew as he fell back on the floor, someone sitting on his thighs. He managed to crack his eyes open while pulling weakly at his dress shirt and the stifling t-shirt still clinging to him. It was the asshole, the rude boy that kept trying to piss him off and touch him, now straddling his legs and looking down at him expectantly. “Get bent,” he growled angrily, his voice weak in his own ears.
“He really shouldn’t be allowed to talk if I’m supposed to behave,” Devlan said hoarsely. He leaned over Evan’s chest, peeling the collar of his button down shirt over his shoulders and wrenching down his arms. He stopped half way, Evan’s arms pinned to his side by the shirt stretching over his forearms. “There we are, Reed. That should keep you out of trouble.”
Evan really did not like how Devlan was looking at him but was having a difficult time arguing, his body feeling on fire, muscles so tense he wondered if they might snap. He struggled when the brunette descended on him again, long fingers sliding under the hem of his t-shirt just brushing his skin as it was pushed up. He did not want his shirt off in front of these people but again could not keep his thoughts straight. The simple touch of fingers had sparked pleasure in him so great he nearly slammed his head into the hard floor, his back arching, vision going white.
“Holy shit,” Devlan hissed, tearing Evan’s shirt up, folding the soft material until it was stretched just above his chest and exposing all of the blond’s torso down to his belt to view.
“This can’t be right,” Gilda muttered, everyone leaning in closer to see the litany of scars and wounds on Evan’s body. The boy’s golden toned skin was covered, white slashes, small dark burns, and one long, puckered line that started in the middle of his ribcage, flowed down his side, and disappeared under his belt.
“No wonder he was so caught up on Vesper’s demon,” Corinth whispered. “It looks like he has one of his own.”
Vesper snapped his eyes to the girl. “Caught up?”
“He was very emotional when he heard you were going to be fed upon. As if any of us could have done anything about it,” she said, a sad smile gracing her features. “Odd, hearing him so young and yet seeing he has clearly had a lifetime of pain that should have aged him.” Her fingers twitched as if to touch Evan’s scars but she held herself back.
Vesper, shadows dancing in his eyes, suddenly turned back, growling lowly. “No!”
Devlan growled back, fingers pulling at Evan’s belt and unclasping it. “He’s burning—Physically hot to the touch, dragon boy. He needs air.”
“If you think for a second I’m falling for your bullshit—”
“Enough!” Gilda roared, glaring between the two of them. “I’m sick of this territorial, dominant male shit! The boy needs help. He was a damn sweet kid and will likely never speak to me again after meeting you dicks. Devlan was the one chosen to ease his suffering, so stop lusting over the kid, Vesper, and let him do it!”
Vesper inhaled a sharp breath, glaring at the dark look Devlan sent him in reply.
“If you wanted him, Malice, you should have just fucking taken him, consequences be damned,” Devlan muttered. “Corinth, get the kid’s boots.”
“Damn it,” Vesper uttered, another growl threatening to break free. He ran his fingers through his bright locks, watching as Evan’s motions began to weaken, the boy so overcome he was losing the function of his limbs. “Asher, tell me your spell doesn’t end in some form of paralysis. Tell me you weren’t planning on draining the boy.”
“It’s not his blood,” Asher repeated, sitting back on his heels. “I left no wound on him to suggest I planned to bleed him.”
“Stop,” Evan mumbled, weak hands clutching at Devlan’s as the boy went to unbutton his slacks. Only to gasp, the touch of skin contact to an incubus automatically sparking pleasure and lust. “Oh hell… damn you…”
“That he’s still resisting is quite valiant,” Asher observed, a grim smile twisting his features. “His willpower is amazing.”
Devlan carefully unwound Evan’s fingers from around his wrists, unzipping the boy’s fly. “Raise your hips, Reed.”
Fairly certain he was in some messed up dream to find Devlan showing concern in his strange yellow eyes, Evan arched his back when fingers brushed his stomach, his hips rising automatically. Devlan roughly pulled his pants down, Evan whimpering from the feel of cool air and even cooler stone touching his heated flesh as he was left in only boxerbriefs and his twisted shirt on the floor.
“Better?” Devlan asked, bending forward to hear Evan’s gasping, soft reply. “No, I promise I’m not going to hurt you,” he assured roughly. “I’m going to pull the heat from your skin. I’m going to touch you—”
Evan shook his head, his neck barely able to support the motion now as he whimpered in fear.
“I know it feels overwhelming. But wherever I touch, when I pull my hand away after that initial pulse, it’s going to feel cooler,” Devlan said as soothingly as he could, his eyes roaming slowly over the blond’s sweating, gasping form. “I’m going to pull the heat away and the spell will stop. Okay?” He asked, gaze again seeking out Evan’s dark, heavy lidded eyes.
“I don’t like… to be touched,” Evan whispered, his body feeling so weak, the fire having stolen all his strength from him. Blinking, he glanced to the side, his head sliding down on the floor, cheek resting on the cool tile. Gilda was there, Vesper hovering feet away. “He hurts me.”
Gilda reached her hand out, gently brushing her fingers to Evan’s. “I promise you, Evan, Devlan won’t harm you. He talks a lot of shit, but he doesn’t hurt. Not the way… Not the way you got your scars.” She bit her lip, pulling her fingers away but keeping them near in a show of support. “Just relax. Just relax and let him help you.”
Evan’s face twisted, hissing when Devlan touched lightly, the pleasure of the touch more pain than anything else.
Gilda turned to Vesper with an uncertain look. “Pull him. You have the strongest call. Take some of his fear away.”
Glancing carefully over his shoulder at his demon bodyguard still across the room, Vesper ducked his head to glare at the girl. “I don’t know if I can. Not safely.”
“Don’t give me that shit, Malice. Just do it,” Gilda snapped. “He’s suffering!”
“I…” Vesper let his eyes travel to where Evan was panting, hissing each time from Devlan’s light touch. “I’m not like the rest of you. I’ve bottled it up. Shut it down as much as possible. To intentionally use it now would be to tear down years of restraint. I… I don’t know if I could stop myself if I were to start.”
“Figure it the fuck out quick,” Devlan growled, fingertips touching the lightest he could possibly touch only to have Evan jerk away. “His brain is going to be effected by the heat if it’s not removed soon and I can’t remove it from him at this pace. Brain dead prey during orientation is not going to go down well for any of us with the higher ups.”
Wetting his lips, Vesper nodded sharply. “Clear a space. Devlan, if I come at you, you need to be prepared to flee without making contact with me. I would prefer only one victim today.” Everyone exchanging glances, Gilda, Corinth and Asher stood, stepping back so that they would not be in the way if Vesper lost control and decided to actually feed off of the whimpering boy. Devlan sat back, putting Evan between him and the pale Scion.
Vesper took a steading breath and then another, trying to let the anxiety clear out of his mind. Fear would only make him desperate, irrational. If he was going to do this, he needed to be calm and collected, determined with his goal and nothing more. Exhaling slowly, he focused on the boy burning like a white hot flame of lust in his mind and tentatively reached his magic out to him.
Vesper gasped at the first touch, the first deliberate magical touch he had made with another living being since he had been tattooed to his demon master. Breathing deep, he pulled, eyes burning blue flames of power.
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.
Pet him… What exactly had the boy meant by that?