Stevie has had a rough life. Kicked out of his home with his twin sister in tow—he gay and she pregnant—when they were only seventeen, he’s had to struggle for the last six years to keep his head above water. He’s dealt with homophobes, with cheating exes, and with an unkind world, but he’s carved out a little place for himself in it, all the same. Now he has one more struggle…facing the fact that vampires exist, as do the Warriors who hunt them.
Terry has been attracted to men as long as he’s been attracted to women, but he never followed through. Warriors of Armen tend to fall fast and hard for women they save, so why waste time on a man, when there’s a woman somewhere in the world for you? He falls fast and hard, but it’s not a woman he saves that catches his attention and stokes his need to print. It’s Stevie. A Warrior has never printed on another man before. Will the rules of sanction stretch far enough to allow him to claim what he really wants?
A Phaze Books ReleaseContains sexual language and explicit sexual situations intended for the enjoyment of adult readers.
Brenna Lyons wears many hats, sometimes all on the same day: former president of EPIC, author of more than 95 published works, office administrator, columnist, special needs teacher, wife, mother...and member in good standing of more than 60 writing advocacy groups. In her first nine years published in novel-length, she's won 3 EPIC e-Book Awards (out of 15 finalists) and finaled for 3 PEARLS (including one Honorable Mention, second to NY Times Bestseller Angela Knight), 2 CAPAS, and a Dream Realm Award. She's also taken Spinetingler's Book of the Year for 2007. Brenna writes milieu-heavy dark fiction, mainly science fiction, fantasy and horror, straight genre, romance and erotic crosses, poetry, articles, and essays. She teaches everything from marketing to choosing an indie publisher, and she's been called "one of the most deviant erotic minds in publishing today" by Fallen Angels. Find out more about Brenna at Youtube
Brenna loves talking to readers and can be reached via her site at www.brennalyons.comAwards for Mundania/Phaze Books...
Finalist PEARL 2003 (Schente Night)
Finalist Dream Realm Award 2003 (Last Chance for Love)
Finalist CAPA 2004 (Written in the Stars)
Honorable Mention PEARL 2004 (Night Warriors)
Finalist PEARL 2004 (Konig Cursebreakers)
Finalist EPPIE 2004 (Fion's Daughter)
Finalist EPPIE 2006 (Rites of Mating)
Finalist EPPIE 2006 (All I Want for Christmas)
Runner-Up Love Romance's Cafe and More Best SF/F Book of the year 2008 (Last Chance for Love)
Finalist EPPIE 2008 (Phaze in Verse)
Finalist EPPIE 2009 (Coming Together: Under Fire)
Winner EPIC's eBook Awards 2010 (Time Currents)
Joyfully Reviewed's Best Books of 2010 (Written in the Stars)
Finalist EPIC's eBook Awards 2010 (Matchmaker's Misery)
Finalist EPIC's eBook Awards 2011 (The Master's Lover)
Finalist EPIC's eBook Awards 2011 (Bride Ball)
Terry Armen cursed under his breath, cleaning the cut on the other man’s neck with an alcohol pad to get a better look at it. Thankfully, it was little more than a scratch. The beast had been going for the kill when Terry reached them, and as a result, the damned thing got the tip of a fang in.
Gods damn it! A minute earlier... Ten gods’ damned seconds earlier, and this wouldn’t be necessary.
The victim was a young man. Terry would guess his age at twenty or so, a little more than half Terry’s thirty-six years. In human terms, he was little more than a boy, and he looked it.
Right now, that boy was trembling hard, using the brick wall behind him for support. There was something endearing in that, something that called to Terry’s base instincts as a Warrior. He wanted to protect him.
I have to offer protection. Even the tip of a beast’s fang was too much. It marked the prey for other beasts, making him nothing short of a beacon, screaming out: “Come eat me. Easy meal.”
“That was...” The kid took an unsteady breath. “That was a vampire. Wasn’t it? I’m not hallucinating? Someone didn’t slip something in my drink?”
He was calmer than most victims of attacks were. That was good, considering the news Terry had to impart to him.
“Yes. We call them beasts.”
The kid swallowed what sounded like a lump in his throat. “And you...hunt them? I mean... I’m sure you don’t just walk around with that hardware for fun.”
“Yes, I do.” He tossed the alcohol pad at the nearest trash can and stepped back to meet the young man’s eyes. “And now I have to protect you.” Terry didn’t make it a question, as he should have. A rebellious corner of his mind insisted that he wasn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer.
“Protect me? Isn’t that...” The kid motioned to the dead beast lying ten yards away. “Isn’t that what you’ve already done? Thank you, by the way.”
Terry sighed. “The beast got his teeth into you.” He put up a hand for calm, before the kid could get the wrong idea. “It’s not going to turn you into one or anything like that, but it makes it easier for others to find you.”
His mouth worked as if to form words, but nothing emerged. His blue eyes went wide and wild, and he pushed a quaking hand through his rust-colored curls.
“Yeah. I know. If one had a meal, the others want a bite too. But that’s my job. To make it impossible for any of them to get a bite out of you.” If I can. I haven’t done a bang up job of it so far.
“Whatever it takes,” the kid vowed. “I’d rather not be some vampire’s juice box. Thanks but no thanks.”
“It’s fairly simple. I give you this.” Terry pulled out an amulet and held it up in the dim light from the street. “I speak a few magic words. I take some information, so the others like me know who you are to protect you better. All done, save that you obey when one of us gives you orders for your own protection.”
“Magic words? Seriously? Will that work?”
“Did I kill it?”
The kid glanced toward the downed beast again, nodded, then turned his gaze back to Terry. “Good deal. I’m in.”
Thank the gods!
Terry eased the amulet over the kid’s ears and let it fall to his chest. “Never remove this. It only works while it’s on your body somewhere. Put it under your shirt or looped around your belt loop and shoved inside your pants, but keep it on and preferably covered, so the cord can’t be severed.”
He fingered the leather cord. “Can I replace this?”
“With a chain or something, so it’s sturdier?”
“Yes, but still...keep it next to your skin. No further than a shirt between you and the amulet.”
Terry leaned closer to him and started reciting the Zeremonie des Schutzes. He chose Gaelic, because it had always been his favorite language.
The kid’s eyes slid shut, and Terry thanked the gods for it. Most men balked at the idea of a kiss being part of the blessing, fed on or not. It was always easier to do it quickly, while the other man was unaware, then offer apologies for the ‘oversight’ of not mentioning it, than make a big deal out of it and end up in an argument while beasts might be closing on their position.
The final syllable left his lips and Terry leaned down to lay a quick peck on the kid’s forehead. He jerked his head up, probably at the sensation of Terry moving. Their lips brushed, and Terry went still. A whisper of sound escaped the kid’s lips, and Terry savored it.
Common sense kicked in, and Terry moved to plant the kiss on the kid’s forehead. Where I should. He stepped back, acutely aware of his cock battling with his jeans for land rights on the now-too-tight fabric.
The kid’s eyes opened and he took a step back, colliding with the wall. He shot a panicked look at Terry, his hand raised, seemingly waiting to take blows. He launched into a hasty apology. “I’m...sorry. Didn’t mean to.”
The urge to reassure him was more powerful than ever. “No problem. I should have warned you. The...uh...kiss on the forehead? Sort of part of the magic.”
He breathed what looked like a sigh of relief. Terry tried to reason his way out of his disappointment. The kid wasn’t arguing with him. Wasn’t that good news?
The kid leaned against the wall, scrubbing a hand over his sweat-coated face. The movement drew Terry’s gaze down his slim body to the unmistakable outline of his erection.
Terry’s heart thundered, and his curse started demanding sex. Hard sex. Now. With the kid, of all people.
He’d noticed men before, but Terry had chalked it up to the curse making an unmated man indiscriminate. As such, he’d never followed through on it and had funneled it toward the next available willing female. He’d never felt himself driven to any sexual partner this way before, not even a female.
The kid looked up at him, his eyes narrowing. “What now?” he asked, seemingly wary.
Terry tipped his head. “What’s your name?”
“Paperwork,” he reminded him.
“Oh...yeah. You did say that. Steve Cole. My friends call me Stevie.”
Terry forced a smile to his face. “Well, Stevie. Next, I drive you home, so I’m sure you make it there alive. It will be easier to get the information I need there, and I’ll tell you how to reach us in an emergency.”
Stevie hesitated a moment and then nodded. “Sure. Sounds good.”
Stevie unlocked the door to his apartment and led the way inside, hitting light switches at the door, then the next set at the entrance to the living room. His nerves were strung tight, and it wasn’t just being attacked by a vampire talking.
The sound of the door closing and locking behind him reinforced what had him on edge. Terry. The man was sex in leather and jeans, and he’d had Stevie scrambled since he appeared over him and dragged Stevie away from the vampire who’d been trying to make him a late dinner.
I can’t believe I almost kissed him. What am I? Stupid? He’d like to claim it had been some sort of post traumatic reaction speaking, but it wasn’t, and he knew it. He wanted Terry, and there was no denying it.
“Nice place,” Terry complimented him.
Stevie nodded. “I’ve been working on it.”
Translation. It’s screams ‘Gaaa-aay.’ “Yeah. I think so.” Common courtesy kicked Stevie in the head. “Can I get you something? A beer? Soda?” A nice white wine? He bit back a wince at Terry’s reaction to that.
“Got any coffee?”
“Sure.” Stevie made his way into the kitchen, forcing his gaze to pass by Terry when he wanted to linger. And drool. Terry was eye candy supreme.
He pushed away the thought and set to work grinding beans. He was halfway through the preheat on the machine when Terry’s voice stopped him cold.
“Not bad. A Barista Express.”
Stevie swallowed hard. “Yeah. I bought it refurbished.” The six hundred dollar price tag for a new one had been a little out of his range. He glanced at Terry over his shoulder, packing the grounds down. “You’re familiar with it?”
Terry laughed. “Warriors live on coffee, espresso, cappuccino...anything made from roasted coffee beans. I don’t think I’ve met a Warrior who doesn’t drink the stuff.” His brow furrowed. “Well, maybe the young Blutjagdfrau,” he amended. “Last time I saw her, it was soda or chocolate milk.”
“What’s a...um...?” Stevie gave up. It was a safe bet he’d massacre the word if he tried to repeat it.
“Female Warrior. We have a couple of them...not many.”
His heart sank. “Oh. Okay.” Stop dreaming. It’s fairly certain Terry is into women.
“We have the same model at one of the cabins,” he switched subjects back to coffee. “We just replaced the Portofino Exec Two at the main house.”
“Replaced? That’s a new model.”
“It gets a lot of use.”
“But...” Stevie’s head spun at the expense. “That’s a five-thousand dollar unit. I know coffee shops that don’t use one that expensive.”
Stevie gaped at him. “What did you replace it with?” Something told him he had to ask.
Terry went red-faced, and he cleared his throat.
“Oh, come on. I have to know. One coffee lover to another.”
“Uh...a couple of TopBrewer Coffee Faucets.”
Stevie gaped at him. “Couple of?” He couldn’t afford one of those on a good day.
“Three. I think. I’m usually too tired to pay attention.”
“Hence the coffee,” he quipped.
“Pretty much. I’m shit before my second cup.”
Terry tucked the notebook back into his pocket, resigning himself to the fact that it was time to leave. He couldn’t state with certainty why he’d stayed this long. Sure, he liked talking to Stevie. They shared some common interests, but he expected that he’d stayed because his damned libido was still playing havoc with him.
As if reinforcing that fact, Stevie stretched and yawned, and Terry’s cock hardened against his zipper again. He opened his mouth to suggest that it was time to leave.
The sound never emerged. Stevie glanced at Terry’s lap, started to turn his head, and his gaze returned. The silence around them was potent, and Terry swore he could detect musk rising from the younger man.
He stared, swallowing audibly, his expression unreadable.
I should give him an out. Explain it. “Warriors... We are a pretty sexual bunch. Need it often. You know.”
Terry ground his teeth, frustrated by the answer. Part of him wished Stevie would suggest they find a bed. The other part wished he’d tell Terry he wasn’t interested. Not knowing made wanting the kid this way worse. Whether he was interested or not, Terry had to find someone to sate this need.
Neither of them broke the silence. It seemed they were at an impasse.
Time to go. Definitely time to go. “I probably should...”
“I mean... I really don’t mind.” Stevie met Terry’s eyes, a slight smile curving his lips, one brow cocked.
No one could mistake the implied invitation. “What are you offering?”
“What are you asking for?”
Terry’s mind rioted, and his cock added all sorts of demands to the mix. “I’ve never been with a guy before, so... Honestly, I don’t know what I want.” That was a first. Even his first time with a woman, Terry had known what he wanted.
“How about something you’re comfortable with, then?”
Terry nodded dumbly, as Stevie stood and crossed the room toward him. He faltered and looked toward the hallway.
Please let him suggest a bed. Why it was so important to make it to a bed was beyond Terry.
“I have condoms in the bathroom. I should—”
“They aren’t necessary.”
Stevie shot him a startled look.
“Warriors don’t carry STDs. We can’t get them if someone else does carry them. We’re immune, on all levels.” And we don’t have to worry about pregnancy. That went without saying, so he didn’t offer it.
He stared, open-mouthed.
He doesn’t believe me. “But if you’re more comfortable with—”
“Part of your magic?”
“Yes. We also heal quicker than most people do.” A lot faster. But there was no sense in scaring Stevie with that.
“Okay then.” Stevie took the last step and sank to his knees between Terry’s spread legs.
When did I widen my stance? His mind refused to provide an answer.
Stevie unbuttoned Terry’s jeans and slipped the zipper down. Terry savored every moment, committing it to memory. When Stevie untucked the two layers of shirt, Terry peeled them up and off, tossing them on top of the leather jacket he’d already removed.
There was a moment of dead silence. Terry realized Stevie was holding his breath. His gaze trailed up and down Terry’s chest, and color bloomed in his cheeks.
“Like what you see?” Terry asked, trying to lighten the mood.
“Yes is an understatement.”
Terry’s cock jerked in response, drawing Stevie’s gaze down to it. He went back to spreading the jeans and easing them down. Terry tipped his hips up, allowing him to pull the fabric down to the tops of his armored boots.
Stevie closed a hand around Terry’s length and started stroking. His hand was softer than Terry’s was, lacking the calluses a Warrior built up. But not a woman’s hand either. Stevie’s hand was stronger, more knowing, and his grip harder and more demanding.
It would be far too easy to come this way, but Terry wanted more. He opened his mouth, intent on asking for it. Stevie’s mouth closing on the head of his cock wrenched a groan from him.
There was nothing sweet in that move, nothing tentative. Stevie knew what Terry wanted and offered it with ruthless efficiency.
There was no play at Terry pretending it was a woman sucking him off. He didn’t close his eyes and daydream of one of the women who’d done this for him. He kept his eyes wide open, enthralled by the red-brown curls, rising and sinking over his cock, the suction on the withdrawals.
I’m letting a guy suck me off, and damn it’s good.
Terry wrapped his hand around the back of Stevie’s head, and Stevie faltered for a moment. He wondered at that, but before Terry could ask, Stevie was back at it full steam.
His balls pulled up tight to his body, and Terry managed to gasp out a warning that he was close. It was always a fifty-fifty proposition, whether or not his partner would choose to swallow.
Stevie didn’t hesitate. He took Terry to the root. The sweet suction along the full length forced him to climax. Terry closed his fist in Stevie’s hair, the cum rushing up his length, a shout echoing off the walls.
He sat there for a moment, spent, stunned by his reaction to Stevie. And wanting more. Like most Warriors, a blow job didn’t fully relieve him.
I should return the favor. At least give him a hand job. The Rules of Sanction were pretty specific about returning the kindness of a lover.
“Come up here, Stevie.”
Stevie pushed to his feet, watching for signs that Terry might snap. He’d said he’d never been with a man before. That, in itself, could be a warning sign. Terry lived a violent life; he was über-alpha male. That kind sometimes experimented and then got scared or pissed off when they found they enjoyed sex with a guy.
Terry wrapped his hands around Stevie’s hips and pulled him down to the couch. Stevie’s tensing muscles relaxed at the fingers working his jeans open.
“What are you doing?” Stevie’s question came out a gasp.
The tug at Stevie’s jeans and the hum of appreciation from Terry was the only answer. In the next instant, Terry’s hand was wrapped around Stevie’s cock, milking him hard.
The first stroke up his length had Stevie arching toward him with a gasp of delight. The second wrenched a groan from him.
“Softer?” Terry offered.
Stevie shook his head, incapable of making a verbal response.
Terry squeezed and stroked, jerking Stevie toward orgasm with brutal efficiency. Stevie’s breathing went harsh, and his legs shook.
Terry’s hand retreated, and Stevie looked up at him, stuttering out a plea for more.
“Lay down. Wrap your legs around me.”
I’m opening myself to him. Visions of Terry working him up and sliding home made him dizzy in pleasure, and Stevie complied.
Terry didn’t do anything of the sort. He knelt between Stevie’s legs and looked down at him with a potent expression that made Stevie’s heart race.
Then he started stroking again. It was all Stevie could do to keep his eyes open and to force enough oxygen into his body to stay conscious.
That didn’t mean Stevie was capable of stringing two words together. He could barely get out one at a time, pathetic pleas for more.
Terry growled out a series of curses, then brought his mouth down on Stevie’s. The kiss was scorching and hard, and Stevie wrapped his arms around Terry’s shoulders, seeking more intimate contact.
Climax roared over his nerves, and Stevie drew his head back and shouted. His breaths came in starts and gasps, and he licked his lips, trying to clear his mind. His arms lay at his sides, boneless in his scattered state.
Terry stared down at him, his expression unreadable. “I…I should go. I have to call in. File my paperwork.” He pushed up from the couch, looking more than a little rattled.
Stevie swallowed hard. He wanted to say something…to reassure Terry, to call him back. A primal, instinctive corner in his mind warned him not to.
He’s über-alpha. Let him come to terms with this. Or not. His heart ached at the truth that Terry might choose to file this experiment under the heading of ‘Never Happened’.
Terry scooped up his shirts and dragged them over his shoulders together. He pulled his leather jacket on over them, ran a hand over his sheath, looked back at Stevie, then averted his eyes. “Duty calls.” Terry took a step toward the door, then stopped and turned halfway back. “I…uh… Do you mind if I come back again…sometime?”
Stevie nearly choked in surprise. “Sure. Anytime,” he managed.
He nodded. In the next heartbeat, Terry was letting himself out of the apartment.
Stevie lay on the couch, his jeans at the top of his thighs, his shirt matted to his abdomen with jizz. Aftershocks wracked his body, and his head spun pleasantly.
God, that man is hot. He said he might come back. His heart leapt in excitement, and he smiled.
He probably won’t. That quickly, his smile melted away.
Stevie levered himself off the couch and dragged his jeans up. “Time to get cleaned up, Cinderella.”
Terry mounted the stairs to one of the houses in town, one that was usually empty. He was still shaken by the strength of his reaction to Stevie, and until he was sure where it was headed, it was probably best to keep a wide berth between himself and his family.
He pressed the connection button on his headset and ordered the cell phone to call the manor. It rang twice before Tyler picked up.
“Armen Manor,” his house lord grumbled.
“Terry, checking in.”
“I take it we have a new protected?” he asked archly.
“Yeah. He’s fine. The beast just got a tooth in him.”
“You should have checked in earlier. I called our doctors to see if you’d taken him there.”
Terry winced at the rebuke. “Sorry about that. He was a little shaken up. A few drinks in him, and he’s feeling better.”
“Steve Cole. Twenty-three.”
Tyler snorted at that. “No wonder he was shook up.”
“But amazingly together, considering what he found out tonight.” Terry respected that about him.
“Think he’ll stick to the deal?” That was always a concern with a young man. Too many of them thought they were invulnerable.
If he even thinks about taking the amulet off, he’ll need a proctologist to remove it. The fact that he wasn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer shook him. He’d protect Stevie, whether the young man wanted to be protected or not.
“What? Oh. Yeah. Steve will keep that amulet on.” I’ll make sure of it.
“You’re sure of that?” Clearly, he wasn’t.
“Good. Then give me the details.”
Terry didn’t even have to flip his notebook open. He’d memorized everything important he knew about Stevie already. “Five feet nine, runner’s build, red-brown hair...a lot of red, blue-gray eyes.” One hell of a delectable body.
Which I really need to stop thinking about, if I intend to get any work done. That sobered him and he went back to giving his report.