It was Wylie’s first burglary and he already wondered how bad it would go down. It was off to a shit start and his expectations weren’t rising as time ticked by.
They’d been sitting outside the huge gates for a good ten minutes now. The engine of the black van rumbled while the group waited for the little tech-wiz to hack them in. It was a small crew and they were all new to the game except their asshole leader for the night, Diego. He was the driver, his job to point out shit to steal and all around bark orders like an angry motherfucker. Adam was the kid genius who kept humming nervously as he typed on his mini keyboard up front. Wylie was the freak in the back of the van. Muscle would be the preferred term, but Diego had insisted on calling him a freak since meeting an hour ago. Wylie chose to embrace it for the night instead of getting pissed off. The lookout with his hand in Wylie’s pocket and lips wet on his neck was his recent boyfriend, Beck.
Wylie was ready to smash Diego’s face in. The gangster was as mean as a junkyard dog and just as foul. He was surprised the vicious bastard didn’t turn into a wolf or even a badass mangy dog. But Diego smelled all human, just like the rest of the crew, which left Wylie as the only guy who could transform into something else.
What that something might be, he had no freaking idea. It wasn’t a full transformation, just his arms. Wylie’s black scales didn’t look like any shifter animal he knew of. Even so, the shift allowed the blond eighteen-year-old to break through locked doors, metal gates and even safes with a strength no human possessed. Not knowing what he was didn’t make it any less impressive, and Wylie’s demon arms were enough to get him into the initiation with Roth’s gang that night.
He hadn’t actually set out to join a gang when he started hanging with Beck a few months back. Beck was a tight piece of ass who liked to get into trouble to piss his religious nut-job parents off. He was the first person to not freak when Wylie’s arms transformed into scaled, demonically powerful weapons. Actually, it kind of got Beck off. Wylie never thought he’d find someone that fucked. But then again, he had demon arms and liked dick, so he supposed they were even on the freak level.
Diego’s irritated growl from the front of the van made Wylie again think of a mutt. Their timetable was going out the fucking window. Adam’s hands kept shaking and they had no damn clue if the kid was getting the job done. Wylie knew nothing about computers. Still, better to fuck it up while no crime was committed, than fuck it up shit deep in the mansion they were planning on emptying.
Wylie had only met Adam once before. The kid reeked of so much fear, he couldn’t understand what the hell he was doing running with Roth. But maybe Adam was one of those types who didn’t want to be afraid anymore. Wylie sure as fuck didn’t know. He stopped being afraid years ago when he realized no matter how many foster families told him he was no good, he could still survive on his own. Even if he didn’t get into the gang, Wylie knew he’d be fucking fine.
Beck’s hand drifted lower and Wylie grabbed his wrist. He gave him a look his boyfriend couldn’t see in the dark. “Quit being a pervy kink. Focus.”
“Don’t be that way.” Beck pressed his lips to Wylie’s jaw and smirked against his skin. “You’re going to fuck me tonight. We’re going to ace this shit, and you’re going to come over to my place and fuck me with those studly arms of yours out while my parents sleep.”
Beck was fucked and Wylie really had no complaints about it. Well, except the screwing with his scales out. He was always worried he might accidentally hurt him. When you could tear through metal, human flesh was fucking butter in comparison.
Wylie didn’t get a chance to answer. The gate gave a sudden shudder and the wrought iron blocking the driveway opened smoothly on motorized tracks. Hallelujah. Diego muttered a long line of relief-filled curses—apparently he was shit with computers, too—and pulled the van up the long drive. They parked close to the side door, their entry point into the downstairs lounge and bar.
Diego glared at the group as he killed the engine. “Remember, the house will be empty. It’s almost winter and the owner flies south to some fucking island. Beck, you’re lookout, at the door, ear on the scanner for signs of cops. No matter what we’re carrying, you don’t leave that post until it’s time to go. Adam, get your ass out. I want you tagging stuff that needs to be moved.”
All the outside lights were on along with a few internal ones, but that was to be expected with the place empty for months at a time. Looking full of people was as much a deterrent as actually being full of people. They didn’t bother wearing masks. Adam had taken the cameras down along with all the other security, and there was no fear of being spotted.
Wylie left Beck with the van. He gripped his boyfriend’s shoulder in farewell, which earned him a smile. Beck wasn’t fearless but he got off on adrenaline and that was good enough.
Adam practically threw himself backward when Wylie approached. He stared up at his heavily scaled arms like he was some hellspawn demon there to kill him and his entire family. It was a look Wylie had grown used to since the age of eight and was sometimes more comforting than Beck’s unique response.
Diego growled at him and pointed to the door just in case Wylie was too retarded to figure out the reason he was there.
“Of course it’s fucking dead. Open the shit and shut up,” Diego snapped.
Wylie licked his teeth; his fangs itched to bite the aggressive fucker on the face. He reached across and drew a long, black talon down between the seam of the door and molding. He found the metal bolts, three in all, and with precise slams of his palm, knocked each one through the reinforced door and into the room behind. Satisfied, he wrenched the handle, opened the door with a flourish and waved the scowling Diego in. Adam took longer to enter; he was very busy trembling like a hyperventilating rabbit. Diego snapped at him and he finally scurried past.
Adam’s fear scent was getting to Wylie and made the hair stand up on the back of his neck. Sure, the kid could get past security but he was useless in the house. He was too waif-limbed to carry shit and skittish to trust as a lookout. Beck was a sweet talker and if some nosy neighbor came sneaking her head over the fence, Beck could come up with a lie and a smile on his pretty face in a second flat. Not so much Adam, who managed to trip twice just walking through the empty room.
“Start grabbing anything that looks worthwhile,” Diego ordered the shaking Adam. He pointed to the wall of electronics in the downstairs room to the right. Wylie followed with his eyes, brows furrowed. He really didn’t know shit about computers and tech and stuff, but there was a lot of shiny metal and plastic shit there. If he went by Adam’s expression, it wasn’t the run of the mill stuff you usually found in some rich bitch’s house.
“This is military grade,” Adam whispered. His eyes widened as he reached for something that looked to be solid steel and more than twice his weight.
“Figure out what’s important and we’ll be down to move what you can’t lift,” Diego said impatiently. “Come on, freak. The safe’s upstairs.”
His eyes strayed to where Adam was flicking something on that looked disturbingly like a laser. Wylie followed the muttering gangster through the long hallways. They must’ve gotten the plans to the place in advance or Diego had been there before. He seemed to know exactly where to go and didn’t bother to turn on lights even in the darker hallways. Wylie admitted to a mild appreciation of his skill, glad he wasn’t some bumbling idiot who didn’t know what he was doing. He could put up with the asshole if Diego managed to get them through the night alive and out of jail.
The stairs were a huge, wide expanse, easily able to fit a damn concert on the steps alone. Wylie kept his senses alert. He heard Diego’s breathing as the man muttered under his breath. There was a ticking as they passed a large echoing room housing a tall grandfather clock, along with…
Wylie turned his head as he caught a whiff of the flowers sitting in a vase on a table down the hall. Worry prickled in the back of his mind and without a word, he turned and walked toward the scent.
They were fresh, daffodils and small white daisies. Diego gave a low grunt when he realized Wylie was no longer behind him, and stomped over to his new location. “What the fuck are you doing?”
“Fresh flowers,” Wylie said tightly. He glared when the gangster looked ready to go off on him. “They’re not even wilted. Who puts flowers out in an empty house?”
His eyes narrowed. Diego stepped forward and smelled the flowers briefly to see if they were real. He shrugged. “Look at the fucking place. Do you really think someone this rich does normal shit? Maybe the fucking maid put them out just in case they got robbed and wanted to make things look nice for us. Now hurry the fuck up.”
Not even remotely convinced, Wylie considered getting the fuck out. It was midnight and whoever was there—maid, butler, guest, or owner—would likely be in bed in one of the many rooms in the maze of a place. It was one thing to steal shit; it was another to terrorize people while stealing shit.
Diego turned and waved his hand in an exaggerated movement to tell him to get the fuck over there already. Wylie bit his tongue and followed. Fuck, for all he knew the fucking rich put flowers out every day even when no one was home. Rich people were fucking crazy where money lifted them as far from reality as drugs ever could for a strung out crack whore. Shit, whoever lived there had rooms for their stuff, not for their people. Who was he to say for certain what went on in the minds of the ultra-rich?
Diego led him surefooted down a long corridor. He touched doors and counted as they went. He stopped where dim light greeted through a narrow band of an open door. “The office. Jewels and bonds are in here, some cash.” He pulled something from the inside of his black leather coat, and unfolded a canvas duffle bag. “Safe’s on the far side wall past the windows and desk. Bunch of books opens up like a door. Empty the entire thing and then meet me in the bedroom, five doors that way, left side.” He pointed down the hall.
Wylie took the bag while wondering what the fuck was in the bedroom Diego wanted to go alone for. He kept his mouth shut. He was there for one purpose; to do what he was told so that he could get in with Roth. Wylie stepped into the study and paused on the threshold. He looked around carefully but the dim table lamp revealed no sign of life. Still, he was pretty sure he smelled the distinct scent of human flesh, only mildly stale. Older, male… Cigar smoker…
The butler, he told himself briskly as he walked the length of the room. Whoever left flowers probably checked the rooms on occasion during the day, and did dusting or some shit. He didn’t know; it wasn’t like he’d ever be in a situation where he’d need to keep a mansion looking nice. He found the false wall of books easy enough, and raised a brow at the ridiculousness of it all. The house alone screamed money. Clearly anyone who looked would know money was also inside.
The safe was large and bolted to the floor. A dial and handle revealed the need for a combination. He considered the metal contraption in silence. Wylie punched his hand forward, then his other, and slowly curled and bent the metal door down. He twisted it like a thin tin of spam. He really was just made for this shit.
He swept each shelf into the black duffle and paused as the stacks of money flipped past his view. Fucking rich people. If they put their money in a bank, people wouldn’t walk into their house to steal their shit. But hell, maybe the tens of thousands swiftly sailing into the bag was equivalent to spare change in the couch for normal people? Giant mansion, giant tech, giant amounts of dough; the rich were just too fucking large to comprehend.
The jewelry was harder to ignore, harder to resist the strange urge to grab, touch, hold the gems and stare at them for hours. He wasn’t a materialistic person, not really, but sometimes Wylie had issues, strange ones that came up when his scales were out.
The crazy wealth brimming in the mansion would have been a total orgy for Beck. Probably for the best they left him in the driveway. Thoughts of Beck got Wylie hustling faster; he didn’t want to linger and leave him exposed outside for too long.
The bag was bursting by the time the safe was empty, but he just pushed his scales further up his arms to reinforce his shoulders. Wylie’s demon arms were limited. Where the scales reached, his muscles and bones beneath changed to something beyond human, but only there. The shift also imbued his senses with the creature he couldn’t fully turn into. The scents in the room were vibrant with information when he breathed in again.
Yeah, there was a man in there recently. He could smell the sweat now and found a glass by the stand of alcohol that held the slightest sour hint of clinging saliva and bacteria. If it was the butler, he sure as fuck wasn’t afraid to leave his booze stealing ways out for all to see.
Wylie didn’t bother counting the doors. Instead he followed Diego’s scent down the hallway. The door was closed and he pushed it open only to inhale sharply as scent and sight revealed a shit storm.
“Don’t fucking do it, man.” Wylie stepped into the room.
Diego glanced his way and waved him off with the hand not holding a gun. “I’ll meet you downstairs. Help the twerp with the—” He fell silent when Wylie threw the heavy duffle on the ground defiantly.
“Pick it up and get the fuck downstairs, freak!” Diego yelled. He now pointed the gun at Wylie instead of the bleeding man crumpled on the floor of the bedroom. There was a safe built into the wall, door currently wide open with cash spread out on the hardwood like a paper waterfall.
“Why? So you can kill this guy?” Anger filled Wylie’s voice. “We’re here to rob, not fucking kill. You think Roth is going to pat you on the back for murdering some poor slob in his fucking bed? He’s going to fucking kill you for fucking things up so royally.”
“You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.” Diego sounded tough but doubt crept into his beady eyes.
“We’ve got the money. I cleared out the fucking safe, and the little shit downstairs is rolling in enough tech to give him a woody. Just walk the fuck away, man.”
“I can’t!” Diego shifted from one foot to the other and pointed his gun with two hands back to the man on the floor. The stranger’s eyes were open, hazy from the head-wound. Blood that looked black in the dark room flowed down his forehead and cheek. “The rich fuck saw my face. I’m not going back to prison. I am fucking done with prison!”
Wylie began to feel the first signs of fear trickle past his strong defenses. Diego was going to waste this guy. It didn’t matter what the fuck he said, no matter how much money was at hand; Diego was more afraid of being caged again than of taking a life. Wylie hadn’t realized he still had something left to be afraid of, but apparently seeing an innocent man get shot to death was it.
“Listen to me, really closely here.” Wylie took another step into the room. He was about seven feet from Diego. It definitely wasn’t close enough to do a flying leap faster than a bullet. But if he could just inch a bit closer…
“Let’s say he manages to describe you even though the lighting is total shit in here and he’s got an egg on the side of his head the size of my fist. Let’s just say he doesn’t have brain damage or memory loss and he can describe you.” He stole another step closer. Diego was still staring at the old dude and not at him.
“What’s he going to say? It’s just a face. There are a fucking million people who look like you. You’re not pretty, you’re not ugly. It’s just a damn face, man.”
“I’m not going back!” Diego snarled and snapped his gaze back to Wylie. “You don’t fucking understand what it’s like in there, freak. What they fucking do to you! Hands like yours, they might leave you the fuck alone. But me? You think they care if I’m pretty or not? You think they care if I run with anyone? They—”
“Stop. Chill the fuck out.” Wylie could just pick up the sounds of Adam calling softly down the hall; he was probably wondering what was taking them so long. “If it all goes to shit, you’re either in for robbery—which is a fucking cakewalk—or it’s murder. They’ll never let you out if you kill this guy. You fucking hearing me? They will lock you away with the animals forever!”
“Shit… shit!” Diego shook with indecision and his expression twisted in fear. “I have priors… It’s not robbery, it’s fucking armed robbery.”
Wylie’s patience was done. “This isn’t just about you, you selfish fuck!”
“What, I’m supposed to give a fuck about the rich asshole who wasn’t supposed to be here!” Diego shouted back, his face red.
“The lookout, you dick! The fucking nerd! Me! You’re setting us all up for life if you—”
Adam pushed into the bedroom and Wylie felt the trigger squeeze before it happened. His muscles screamed as he lunged forward and knocked into Diego’s tall form.
The gunshot was an explosion of sound in his ear. Wylie’s hypersensitive senses reeled from the sudden light and noise. Diego went down heavily. He fired off another shot before Wylie wrestled the gun from his hands.
Wylie lurched to his feet, and he hauled the whimpering gangster up. Diego’s flesh was torn and bloodied from where Wylie’s inhuman claws and sharp scales had sliced and scraped. He turned to the door. Adam smelled of piss and fear. His eyes were wide and fixed unblinking on the man huddled on the floor. Wylie didn’t dare look; he could scent the blood quickly pooling and heard the man’s shattered breaths gasping for air.
“Get to the van, kid.”
“What about… W-What about the stuff?” Adam choked out. Tears began to stream down his small face and with an effort, Adam turned from the view of the dying man. He looked green. Wylie really hoped he wasn’t going to hurl.
“Now!” Wylie shouted.
Adam quickly backpedaled away when Wylie stormed to the door. He dragged the now-screaming Diego, who couldn’t escape the clawed hand that gripped his arm and carelessly sliced deep into the muscle of his bicep. Wylie followed the scent of their trail and strode through the mansion. They left far faster and much less cautiously than when they arrived. Wylie held Diego’s slumped form under one of his monstrous arms as they descended the wide staircase. Each step of pain wrenched more blood and weaker sounds from the flailing gangster. Adam scurried behind and bit his fingernails. He was silent as he watched Diego’s clothes and flesh shred in Wylie’s merciless hold.
They found Beck at the outer door. His dark eyes revealed he heard the gunshots.
“You’re driving, B.” Wylie moved to the back of the van and threw Diego’s barely conscious form in with the pile of electronics Adam had salvaged. As an afterthought, he reached in and grabbed Diego’s cell, then slammed the door.
“What, are you getting in front—Wylie!” Beck chased after him when he headed back to the house. “What the fuck are you doing, man?”
“Making sure that guy doesn’t fucking die!” Wylie turned and jerked away when Beck reached for him, his scaled arms too dangerous to touch. “Get them the hell out of here, B. Diego might need a hospital. I fucked him up bad trying to get the gun from him.”
“Don’t! Just come with us—baby, fuck, don’t do this!” Beck pleaded frantically with tears glowing in his eyes. “No one will know it was us. No one will fucking know and we can just… just…”
“Hurry up, B. That asshole is going to need you to help him after his huge fuck up.” Wylie’s smile was grim when he leaned down and pressed a swift kiss to Beck’s cheek. “Don’t let him pin this on you with Roth. I gotta call an ambulance so I need you safe and out of here first, okay?”
“Shit… Shit, you’re such a fucking idiot,” Beck whispered. His eyes still pleaded for him to come with. Hesitantly, he stepped backward. His gaze never left Wylie until he reached the open driver’s door. He disappeared in the van and the headlights glared to life. Beck’s voice was rough when he snapped something at the hysterical Adam and turned the van around in the driveway.
Yeah, definitely. He was as fucking stupid as they came.