What lurks in the dark is not always a monster. Sometimes it’s your deepest desire.
Long ago, Val made the decision to stick by his captain against mutinous shipmates. He has spent a millennium on Earth protecting humans as a matter of honor. He also made the fatal mistake of falling in love with a human boy who died trying to birth Val’s son. He’s sworn to never open himself up to such pain and guilt again.
Mackie was forced to run away from his family to save himself from their homophobia and abuse. He learned to live by his wits and the sale of his body. He’s reinvented himself as a brat with a need to be dominated and tamed. He thought he’d found the perfect man in Val, only to discover he had given his heart to a vampire—one that pushed him away when an ancient, hidden war reignited.
As Val and his cohorts battle with their old crew members, he tries to keep Mackie at a distance from the danger and his heart. But Mackie will not be sidelined as either a soldier or a lover. He is waging a war of his own to win Val back.
The next chapter in the alien war is heating up. A deadly drug is flooding Boston, threatening to turn the city into a battleground. Val and the others need help, and one bratty twink might be the best weapon they have. He may also be the key to unlocking Val’s heart and giving him back the happiness he lost.
Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of drug use and sexual abuse.
General Release Date: 29th May 2018
Normally the throbbing beat of dance music didn’t faze Val. The rhythm reverberating in his chest reminded him of the ship’s engines pulsing. It had been a thousand Earth years since he’d last felt them, yet he hadn’t forgotten. He never forgot anything, and that unusual skill, for humans and his species alike, made his life a misery sometimes.
From the second-floor railing, he surveyed the club like a bird of prey, always on the lookout for trouble. That was the job of a bouncer. Humans had little self-control. Even the men of this upscale private club could get out of hand. That was especially true on a Saturday night when they allowed themselves to cut loose from their weekly jobs. And the pretty boys dancing for them only inspired them to more stupidity, not less.
One in particular was causing quite a stir anad the sight of it raised Val’s blood pressure in a way that the blaring music never did.
“Mackie’s in fine form tonight.”
Val almost bared his fangs at the casual remark. Given that it had been delivered by his superior, he kept his impulse in check. Besides, he had a lot emotionally invested in being unconcerned with the redheaded boy’s life.
He clamped his fingers harder around the railing. “His arm healed well.”
Alex leaned against the barrier next to him. “Yes, although that’s not what I meant. The members are delighted to see him back in action. He’ll make a killing, even if he only dances on the stage.”
The man’s gaze bore into him, although Val refused to take his eyes off the patrons. “He’s a smart boy. He’ll bring some up here and make even more.” The words were uttered with indifference, although maintaining the ‘I don’t give a fuck’ tone nearly caused his throat to constrict.
Alex left him alone for about two seconds. “We could still see him settled somewhere else. I’m sure any one of our remaining cadre would be willing and able to keep him safe. That’s assuming Dracul has him in his crosshairs at all.”
Val had had this conversation before with Alex. Since the renewal of their endless internecine war a few months earlier, they’d been operating under the assumption that Quinn and Mackie were both at risk. Alex kept his lover safe, of course, and Mackie had been convalescing at the club. The brat had been willing to be kept pampered and happy to return to his old job on the pole. He’d probably been shaken enough by his near-death experience at Adrian’s hands to go along with any plan to protect him from further harm.
It was Val who was the problem. He couldn’t stand the idea of his former lover being sent away. No one could be trusted with the boy’s safety other than him. His feelings on the matter were irrational, he knew. Those of his crew who remained loyal to Alex were all well-trained warriors who had survived human aggression, as well as Dracul’s frequent assaults. Yet, any time Val pictured Mackie being kept by another, his head threatened to explode.
“He’s my responsibility.” His gaze homed in on a club member whose hand lingered a little too long on Mackie’s perfect ass. “I will keep him safe, no one else.”
“Val…” Alex’s tone was one of infinite patience. He only used it when one of his men was driving him crazy. “You can’t keep the boy under your watchful eye forever, not as things stand between you.”
Val glanced sideways. “Things stand exactly where I want them. Mackie, too. He’s made it quite clear he wants nothing more to do with me.”
“His feelings are hurt. You know how these humans are. You sent him away with blistering words that his wounded pride won’t allow him to forgive.”
“They were necessary.”
It had been one of the hardest things he’d ever done—tossing Mackie out on his ear to keep him from Dracul’s clutches and it hadn’t even worked. Harder still had been seeing Mackie battered and bruised in Adrian’s hands. He would have torn the fucker to pieces, except that honor had been Alex’s. Val still blamed himself for not breaking it off with the boy earlier.
The club member’s hand hadn’t left Mackie’s ass. Every time the boy moved, the man stayed with him. Val’s eyes narrowed and his fingers tightened sufficiently to hurt his knuckles. If he wasn’t careful, he might splinter Alex’s beautiful balustrade.
Alex’s voice claimed his attention once more. “At the time, yes, your scheme seemed the correct course. Now, wouldn’t it be more prudent—”
Val cut him off as he pushed back. “Excuse me, sir. I’m needed on the floor.”
He wanted to vault over the railing. It was the quickest route down and an easy drop for him. It would scare the shit out of the humans, however, so he was forced to use the stairs instead—and at a pace that made his teeth clench. Damn, these upright apes and their slow, puny bodies. Mimicking their weakness infuriated him. Always had.
Still, he fairly flew down the stairs to the first floor and strode over to the small stage where Mackie was thrilling his admirers with his graceful dancing—provocative, as well, his lithe body twisting around the pole as if born to it. His pale beauty was entrancing, even at a distance, though Val had sworn to resist it. During his weeks of recovery, the boy had let the shaved part of his head grow out. He had gelled it into spikes that should have looked ridiculous, but somehow Mackie pulled it off.
Val couldn’t help but stare at the red hair. It had been his weakness, and the sight of it set off a pang deep inside him, as it always did, except Robbie had had a fresh-faced look, with round cheeks and wide eyes that conveyed wonder at everything. Mackie’s features were sharper, more elfin, and his eyes held a depth of pain that always tugged at Val’s protective instincts.
It wouldn’t take much, a small slip in Val’s resolve, for him to be totally lost. He could not let that happen. He’d been selfish once before to fatal results. He wouldn’t be that weak or self-indulgent again. No more human boys would die in agony because of him.
As Val approached, Mackie leaned down and said something to the man whose hand was still plastered against the go-go boy’s rump like it had been surgically attached. The man shook his head and leaned in closer, his lips almost grazing Mackie’s lightly painted, plump ones.
The room became a hazy red before Val could keep himself in check. Mackie turned toward him, and his eyes fairly popped right before Val lashed out and grabbed the offending club member by the back of his collar. Even with the loud music, the man’s squeak of alarm reached Val’s ears.
He grinned, careful to keep his fangs from showing as he hauled the man up to his face. “Having fun, Mr. Warren?” The older man sputtered and squirmed. “You know the rules, sir. Boys dancing for your entertainment is not a license to be overly friendly. I believe you were crossing a line just now.” He kept his tone moderate, mindful of how much Alex loved his club and living in Boston. Nothing would be gained by causing too much of a fuss.
Mackie all but flew off his stage to join them. “Let go, Val. Mr. Warren was a little overly enthusiastic. He wants a lap dance so badly that he was having a hard time waiting for my time on the stage to end.”
The boy’s proximity was like a magnet for Val. He hated how impossible it was to escape his lure. Reluctantly, Val took his gaze off the patron and swung it over to the little spitfire. Mackie flashed him a grin that was also a warning to knock it off. Smaller than most human men, the boy had never been one to back down, not even when up against someone half-again his height and almost twice his weight.
Mackie placed one delicate hand on Val’s arm. “Come on. Everyone’s glad to see me back. You’re putting a major crimp in my style. You know I can handle myself.”
For a few frightening seconds, Val lost himself in Mackie’s green eyes. It had been so long since they’d interacted directly, Val having been careful to keep his distance. He’d almost forgotten how compelling those human eyes were. The light touch of the boy’s fingers burned through the sleeves of Val’s Armani suit and right down to his flesh. His stupid dick stirred with the memory of what those clever fingers could do.
A tug from Warren, along with a few more sputtering sounds of indignation, forced Val to break free of Mackie’s influence. Loosening his grip, Val eased the club member onto his feet. Val fussed with straightening the man’s jacket.
“My apologies, Mr. Warren. It seems I misconstrued the situation.” Before the man could utter a response, Val whipped out his wallet and pulled a hundred from it. “Please have a few lap dances on me.”
The wealthy man hardly needed the gift but that wasn’t the point. Val turned away and peered down into Mackie’s blazing gaze. He kept staring as he bent to tuck the bill into the already stuffed G-string the boy wore. It was some frilly bit of fabric that was more effeminate and less Goth than Mackie’s previous look had been. It, along with the heavier makeup the boy had plastered onto his face, should have been a turn-off. Val had always preferred males to females. Somehow, on this particular human, the new look only served to make the boy more enticing.
He slid his fingers along the silky skin moist from the boy’s recent exertions. It was how he remembered that flesh. He’d once spent hours trailing his fingers along every inch he could reach, Mackie always purring like a cat at the touch. He’d craved the contact like a starving man did bread.
Yes Val, the one who never forgot, got a jolt of nostalgia. It was a dangerous game he suddenly played. The look in Mackie’s kohl-rimmed eyes confirmed that the human remembered, too. It would take nothing for Val to lean down farther and take those plump, painted lips in a searing kiss that would leave them both breathless.
That way lay madness, however. He had to be strong for both their sakes. So, tucking in the bill, he straightened once more and hastened away with as much dignity as he could muster.