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The Wolf Man/Creature From the Black Lagoon

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Title: A Predestined End 

Author/pseudonym: Tinnean 

Fandom: The Wolf Man/Creature From the Black Lagoon 

Pairing: Andrew Dorincort/Da'ric  

Rating: NC-17 

Disclaimer: Universal Studios owns both of these movies, although the studio morphed into Universal-International for the Creature. Curt Siomak put words in The Wolf Man's mouth. Maurice Zimm wrote The Creature. However, Drew and Da' belong to me. 

Status: new 

Date: 5/02 

Series/Sequel: This follows the adventures of characters introduced in When the Wolfbane Blooms and Written on the Land. 

Summary: The offspring of two very interesting families find their destinies with each other. 

Warnings: m/m, m/f (sorry, it's necessary, and I'll try to keep it to a minimum), a touch of bestiality, spoilers for the movies, and quite possibly The African Queen and The Mummy as well. 

Notes: If anyone can tell me why the name Ben Tipton is ringing a bell, please let me know. I’m sure the Hungarian I’ve used doesn’t literally translate to The White One, but that was my intention. Sorry. The line, “Chance is the fool’s name for fate” comes from The Gay Divorcee. Thanks to Athea for wanting to see where this fandom goes, and to Wolfsbride, also. A special thanks to Gail for her kind words, and as always, for the beta. 

"The way you walk is thorny, through no fault of your own. But as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end…" -The gypsy, Maleva, in The Wolf Man

A Predestined End



She never asked about her natural parents. The two men who raised her from birth waited expectantly for the questions, but as the beautiful little girl grew into lovely young womanhood, never once did she bring up the fact that instead of having a Mama and a Papa, she had a Pere and a Papa. 

They would have told her about her mother, Jennie Williams, who had run a shop in the village of Upper Uncton and died in childbirth. They would have been harder pressed to explain about her father. 

Lawrence Talbot, son of a baronet, had been bitten by a werewolf, and the dark desire that was the bane, as well as the salvation of the shape shifter, drove him to attempt an attack on Thomas Fortescue-Smythe, a former army captain, who had been his lover when they were youths. It had failed, due in part to the silver chain worn by Tommy as a symbol of his commitment to his partner, Roddy Sayer. 

The night the child they had named Shani Amala had been born, her father had been seriously injured in his form as the wolf, and so had lost a good deal of his memory. The gypsy fortune teller, Maleva, had foreseen all this years before and had informed her vista that they would take the unconscious man to their homeland in the shadow of the Carpathian Mountains. 

For many years, no word was received of any of them. And then the Second World War erupted. Eventually rumors filtered back to that little corner of Kent, of very strange things that occurred under the glow of the full moon. Of course, no one had believed the tales of werewolves defending the local populace. It was just a clever ploy to undermine the enemy's morale. 

Still, the fact had remained that German soldiers had been on the point of revolting against their commanding officers rather than go anywhere near that area of Carpathia. 

Thomas Fortescue-Smythe and Roddy Sayer had looked at each other, and had known it hadn't been a ploy. 


The first time she heard the voice calling to her she had just entered puberty. Always it spoke to her at the time of the full moon. She looked forward to it, and rather missed it on the nights when the silver orb was waning. 

As she grew older, it began to have a strange effect on her; it whispered to her, and she felt the need to touch herself. She started by fondling her nipples. She progressed to stroking the moist folds between her thighs. Eventually the need grew so desperate that she penetrated her passage with a single, curious finger. 

But the need also brought shame with it. On the mornings after nights when she had pleasured herself, she would be unable to meet her parents' eyes. She promised herself that she would stop, that the last time had been the last time. And she would keep that promise, until the night of the next full moon. 

The two men who raised her noticed that something was troubling her; how could they not notice? But she insisted nothing was wrong, and they didn't press her. 

On the night of her eighteenth birthday, the voice called her once more. It drew her to her bedroom window, and she stood there, staring at the moon, which was full and bright.  

Out of the corner of her eye, a flash of movement caught her attention, and she dropped her gaze. What appeared to be an enormous black wolf stood at the edge of the lawn, watching her with unwavering eyes. 

She blinked, and when she looked again, there was nothing there. Her nightgown felt constrictive, and she stripped it off and returned to her bed. 

She began to dream. In her dream she awoke to find herself tangled in her sheets. Once freed, she bounded to her feet, four feet. She needed to be out of the house, needed to be bathed by the cool light of the moon, and she bolted out of the pretty bedroom. The freedom of the night beckoned her. 

Ben Tipton was on his way home from a night at the village pub. Afterwards he would swear he'd been stalked by a large white wolf that had knocked him off his feet. He would never reveal, however, that he had become shamefully aroused, and she had curiously nuzzled his crotch. He might even have undone his fly and released his prick for her to lick, but the she-wolf had been driven off by an even larger black beast, and the abruptly sober man had nearly fainted from fear.  

The two animals disappeared into the woods, and Ben managed to get to a nearby home, but he couldn't persuade them to call out the local constable. Everyone knew there had been no wolves running the English countryside in forever, and he was advised to go easy on the drink next time. 

Meanwhile, the she-wolf slowed her headlong flight, lured by the enticing odor of the male. She glanced back flirtatiously at the huge animal, slowly waving her plume of a tail. He raised his head, and his nostrils flared at the scent of a female willing to be covered. 

//Not yet!// The words echoed in her mind.  

//When?// she demanded impatiently. It seemed as if she had waited forever for this moment. 

//Soon! The time is not yet ripe. When it is, you will come to me, and then, my beauty, then I shall give you what you want. I will bury myself in you, and I will mate with you long and hard. Until then, do not seek out another male!// He nipped her hip sharply in warning, and vanished into the shadows. 

The scene changed, and she was back in her bed, panting and drenched in sweat, on the edge of an orgasm. Her fingers wandered over her body, squeezing, stroking, exploring. She imagined a big, dark-haired man standing at the foot of her bed, watching as she pleasured herself, their eyes locked, and as he watched, he changed into the black wolf. With a moan she rolled onto her belly. Her legs were spread wide, and she waited to feel the animal to bury his prick deep inside her, waited to feel the softness of his fur against her back and thighs.  

She slid two fingers into her channel while her thumb rubbed the swollen bit of flesh at the top of her sex, and lost herself in the fantasy of the wolf doing this to her, of his knot swelling inside her, tying her to him while he filled her with his semen. With a muted cry, she came.  

In the morning, she awoke from the confused dreams to find what appeared to be dog hairs on her comforter. Her hip was sore, and when she examined the spot there was a purple bruise in the shape of a full moon marring the pristine paleness of her skin. She touched it uneasily, then convinced herself that she must have bumped herself the day before or sometime during the night and never realized it. 

Resolutely, she buried all thoughts of the dreams, and the wolf, and the bruise at the very bottom of her mind. 


Part 1


The girl who entered the sitting room hovered on the cusp of womanhood. She was beautiful, with white blonde hair and pale blue eyes. At eighteen, she had known nothing but love and indulgence from her family and the people of the surrounding farms and villages, and although she knew there was a deep mystery surrounding her birth, she had never felt the need to pursue it. 

She had been denied nothing, and she was used to getting her own way. That was why she couldn't understand why the man she called Papa was refusing to allow her the trip to the Continent. Didn't he realize how very important this trip was to her? 

It had been decided, long before the tiny girl child first began to speak, that Tommy would be called Pere and Roddy would be Papa. Collectively, she would call them the Papas. 

"Pere." Her tone was wheedling, but her expression was purposeful. She replaced it immediately with a teasing one. She wasn’t sure how he would react if he knew the real reason behind her desire to journey to the Continent. 

The man in the armchair in the sitting room glanced up from the newspaper he was reading. "Shani." He let the monocle that magnified the vision of his left eye fall to the end of its ribbon. His right eye, which had been blinded in the Great War, was concealed by a black silk patch. His lover had once confessed that he found that patch exceptionally dashing, not to mention arousing. That was all Thomas Fortescue-Smythe needed to hear to determine never to remove it.  

He smiled at the girl who had been placed in his arms on the night she was born by the ancient gypsy woman, Maleva, and who he and his lover regarded as their own. Shani sat in his lap and took the newspaper from him, dropping it to the floor beside the chair. 

"Papa has said that if you agree, I may go to France." She wasn't above trying a little divide and conquer. It was imperative that she be on the other side of the English Channel as soon as possible. The voice was making that more than clear. The time was finally ripe. 

"Did he now?" Tommy knew his lover very well, and knew Roddy Sayer would never attempt to undermine his authority, just as he wouldn't if their positions had been reversed. His daughter dropped her eyes and began to worry a button on his vest. 

"Well, Grandmama doesn't see why the two of you are being such fuddy-duddies about this." 

"So now you're bringing Lady Genie in on this?" Roddy Sayer limped into the room, his weight supported by a cane. He had broken his ankle when a gelding he had been schooling over a series of jumps had balked and thrown him, and it was taking a long time in healing. His eyes, as they raked over his lover, were warm. Tommy licked his lips. 

Oblivious, Shani pouted. "Everyone is going, and Mrs. Burrell-Higgins will be along as chaperone." 

Mrs. Burrell-Higgins was a near neighbor of Lady Eugenia Fortescue-Smythe, Tommy's mother. The two men exchanged glances, remembering the squire's feather-brained wife from a disastrous dinner party years before. "This is not confidence-inducing information, dear girl." 

Just then the phone rang, and Roddy picked up the extension that was on a console table by the door. "Almeria Hall. Ah. Lady Genie, how splendid to hear from you! Yes, Shani was just informing us of your feelings on this matter. Yes, we know things have gotten much calmer on the continent since the War ended. Yes, we know we can't keep her tied to… Yes, but…"  

He stared helplessly at his lover. Tommy eased their daughter off his lap and rose to take the phone from the other man. "Mother… Yes, it's good to hear from you, Mother. No, it hasn't been that long. I spoke with you just a couple of … Yes, it was that recently. No, Roddy and I don't think…We really don't think… But Mother… But…" 

Roddy slid his arms around him. "I think we've been routed, horse and guns, sweetheart." 

Tommy rolled his eye and nodded. "Mother, I'll need to discuss this further with Roddy. However, if we agree to this, someone more reliable than Alice Burrell-Higgins must go with them. Oh, she has?" Tommy tried to stand firm. "Very well, Mother. I'll let you know as soon as we've come to a decision. She'll need to be at Fortescue Manor when? That soon? Very well. Yes, I love you too, Mother. Yes, I'll give Roddy your love as well. Good-bye, Mother." 

Shani stood there, holding her breath. 

"I assume Lady Genie has talked us into allowing our only child to go to the Continent?" 

Tommy nodded again. "Why do I feel as if I've been steam-rollered? The woman doesn't even come up to my shoulder!" 

Roddy chuckled. "She does have that effect on one, doesn't she? Who did she say would be going along?"


A sensible, no-nonsense woman, as well as a diamond of the first water, Dinah was Lady Fortescue-Smythe, the wife of Tommy's older brother. If she was going along, one of their strongest objections was no longer valid. However, "I thought Dinah was involved with planning Hal's wedding." Hal was the couple's oldest son and heir. After cutting a swath through the season's latest crop of debutantes, he had surprised everyone by proposing to a nurse he had known while serving in the army and had unexpectedly run into again in Town. 

Tommy shrugged. "That's what I thought also, but apparently not. What do you say, love? Shall we let this minx go?"  

"If she promises not to get into any mischief," Roddy agreed with reluctance, and she gave a squeal of delight. 

"Shani, it appears you will be going abroad. Hurry up to your room and pack, but pack lightly. Your grandmother intends to fund an entire new wardrobe for you when you reach Paris. I think we'll need to build a new room just for the frocks you'll be bringing home." 

The girl hugged both her parents and began to enumerate all the things that needed to be done in preparation for this momentous trip. "I must make sure Mrs. Daniels will serve you all your favorite foods while I'm gone. And I have to remind her to make sure the laundress doesn't put starch in your shirts. And…" Shani took her position as lady of the manor very seriously. "Make sure you don't put too much pressure on that ankle, Papa. Pere, don't read when you're tired, you know your vision gets blurry. Oh! I'll have to find Mr. Daniels! The big trunk needs to come down from the luggage room." She hugged them again, almost dancing with excitement, and ran out of the room.  

"The big trunk? I did tell her to pack light, didn't I?" 

Roddy smiled, but it was obvious his mind was elsewhere. "You'd think she was never coming back. I have an odd feeling about this, sweetheart," he murmured as he regarded the place where their daughter had been, his gaze thoughtful. "I …" 

"What is it, love?" Tommy held the other man snugly in his arms. "You don't think she'll be in danger, do you?" 

Roddy shook his head hesitantly. "Not danger. It's just that… I'd feel happier knowing the Channel was between them." 

Tommy didn't have to ask who his lover wanted as far as possible from the girl they loved as their own flesh and blood. "Lawrence wouldn't hurt her," he insisted. "And besides, their itinerary isn't supposed to take them anywhere near that part of Europe." 

"No, of course not, sweetheart. I'm just being a fuddy-duddy as Shani has claimed. Of course she'll be fine. Of course nothing will happen to her." 

But Tommy knew his lover would worry anyway. They both would. 


The voice continued to call to her, no longer restricted to the nights of the full moon. It grew stronger the further she got from the island of her birth. It was seductive, a siren's song, with its promise of delights of the flesh that she longed to experience.  

If her companions noticed her preternaturally bright eyes and nervous excitement, they assumed it was the giddy reaction of a girl away from home for the very first time, and in the glamorous city of Paris.  

But Paris wasn't where she needed to be. 

Shani pleaded to be taken to Vienna, ostensibly to see the Lipizzaner stallions perform, and perhaps pay a visit to the stud at Piber with an eye to buying one of the amazing animals for the Papas, but Austria was simply that much closer to where she wanted to go. Once they were there, the girl had no trouble eluding her guardians, who were busy with the other girls they were shepherding on the tour. She simply vanished. Mrs. Burrell-Higgins was reduced to hysterics. Lady Dinah put in a trunk call to home, and within twenty-four hours her husband and brothers-in-law were there. 

Before a search party could be launched, an ancient, wizened woman appeared. "Grandmother!" Tommy felt his blood turn cold. 

The gypsy smiled kindly at him. "Young sir. I am so very pleased to see you again after all these years." 

He went to her and brought her hand to his lips. "Our daughter, Grandmother?" 

Maleva ran her fingers over his white blond hair. "She is well, young sir. She is with my people, and will return to you before too much longer." Her voice lowered. "She will be with child." 

"She's ruined!" Mrs. Burrell-Higgins moaned, and she dropped into a chair and buried her face in her hands. "Ruined, I tell you!" 

"Bloody hell!" Tommy swore, glaring at the distraught woman. 

"Bugger!" Everyone turned to stare at Roddy, who had never been heard to use that word in any company, much less mixed. "If she comes back to us in one piece, that's all that matters. Everything else can be taken care of in its own good time."  

The gypsy came to stand before him. "You… You were always the strong one, the one who stood firm." He would have brushed her words aside, but she drew him a little away from the others and spoke softly. "A Feher Ember, The White One, will not be ruined. The one who is for her will come, and he will nurture the child she will bear as his own." She went back to Tommy. "Do not worry, young sir. All will be well, I promise you!" She brought his head down to her, pressed a kiss to his cheek, and left.  

"Bertie, you'll see the ladies and their charges return safely to Paris? Roddy and I will wait here for Shani." 

His brother nodded, and by the end of the day they were on their way west, leaving the two men behind. Roddy was looking slightly shell-shocked. "And Maleva said I'm the strong one. Oh, god, Tommy, I'm so worried for our girl." 

"Do you want to go after her? You know I will, if that's your choice." Tommy stood behind his lover and pulled him against him. He rested his chin on Roddy's shoulder. 

“Maleva seems to feel it is necessary for Shani to return to us on her own. Bugger!” 

“You’re repeating yourself, love.” He turned Roddy into his embrace. "Never mind. You need to eat. Come along, I'll take you to Palais Schwarzenberg, and you can order whatever you like." 

“And when we get back?” 

“Time enough to decide in the morning.” 


Tommy was unable to fall sleep. His lover tossed and turned restlessly beside him in the big bed. Finally Roddy settled on his stomach, his night shirt rucked up around his waist. Uncertain, but needing to be connected with the other man, Tommy slicked his erection, parted Roddy’s arse cheeks and slid into the welcoming heat of his body. 


The white she-wolf ran through the countryside, the big, black male close beside her. She knew he wanted her, the scent of his arousal was heady in her nostrils. Beneath his belly, the pink tip of his prick was emerging from his sheath. Her deadly jaws parted in a grin, and she turned sharply to the right, as if to evade him. 

His grin matched hers. With a sudden bound, he knocked into her, sending her tumbling into a pile of leaves. Before she could leap up to escape him, he was on top of her. His  sharp teeth closed gently but firmly around the folds of fur at her neck, keeping her imprisoned. She raised her rump to accept him, and his thick prick penetrated her. 


A surprised, “Oh!” escaped Roddy’s lips. Tommy settled himself on his lover’s back, twining their fingers, and resting his cheek on Roddy’s hair. They stayed like that, possessing and possessed, until the urge to move became too great. Tommy pulled Roddy back onto his knees and started the rhythm that would bring them satisfaction. 


She couldn’t believe how huge he was. His bulk would have been painful if she hadn’t been ready for this. She felt surrounded by him, by his maleness, by his power, by his need to dominate her. She whined and held still as his hips pistoned urgently, needing to plant his seed deep inside her. He began to come, and his knot swelled, plugging her passage. 


Roddy spread his legs and bowed his back, and moaned as Tommy found the angle that brought him into contact with his lover's sweet spot. The pace became more frantic, more erratic, and Roddy took his weeping prick in his hand and began pumping. With a surprised groan, Tommy spilled himself in his lover’s channel, the heat of his semen triggering a matching orgasm. The spasms of Roddy’s inner muscles milked the last of his lover's climax from him.  


The mating completed, the two wolves sank to the ground, and the black male rested on her back. She turned her head to lick his muzzle, and he nipped her throat. Eventually his knot shrank, and as she fell asleep, he slipped from her. 

When she woke, she was alone, lying naked on the leaves. She shivered, finally free of the moon madness. The ancient gypsy woman came toward her and covered her with a woolen cloak. “I had the strangest dream, Grandmother!” 

Maleva smiled and helped the girl to her feet. “You have done well, my child." The old woman stroked Shani’s white blonde hair away from her face. "Come with me now. We must prepare you to return to your fathers.” They started to walk slowly back to the gypsy caravan.  

From the far end of the camp, a black haired man watched as the two entered a wagon. His eyes clashed with those of an older man, and then he turned on his heel and vanished. 

Lawrence Talbot sighed. It was only by chance that they had learned of the younger shape shifter.  

Chance. It was a fool’s name for fate. 


They had agreed to wait twenty-four hours before taking any action, but that didn’t mean they would sit twiddling their thumbs waiting for the time to expire. Tommy used his knowledge of the workings of governments throughout Europe to track down the contacts he would need. Before they could complete the arrangements to travel into Romania, however, an exhausted Shani appeared in their suite.  

Both her fathers turned pale at the sight of her. Her eyes were heavy-lidded, and when she unwrapped a high-necked cloak from around her, they could see the fair skin of her throat was marked with numerous love bites. 

Shani’s lips curved into a smile, but it was a wobbly one at best. "Papa. Pere. You're here. Can we go home now?” Her voice cracked. “I really want to go home." 

Questions could wait for another time. They opened their arms to her, and she ran to them. And the three of them stood in the center of the room, holding one another. 

Part 2


Errol Dorincort had come to Almeria Hall only in part because he had heard the owners bred the finest horseflesh in southern England. Their stud routinely produced hunters and racers that were worth every penny of their exorbitant price.  

But Dorincort was not there for a thoroughbred, or even one of the Arabians that he’d learned were also bred on Almeria Hall Farm. However, when he called to arrange this meeting, he did not reveal that. Instead, he explained to Mr. Smythe, one of the owners of the farm, that he'd seen the breed when he’d been stationed in the Near East during World War II, and was interested in buying one if a price could be agreed upon.  

He parked in the circular drive and got out of his car, then walked to the front door and tugged the bell pull. Light footsteps hurried toward the door, and it was thrown open. His breath snagged in his throat as he beheld the vision before him. 

She must have been a half dozen years younger than he, and her fair hair was confined at the nape of her neck by a blue satin ribbon that matched her eyes. "Yes?" she asked cheerily. Her eyes widened, and he saw that they were even bluer than they had at first appeared. A warm blush covered her cheeks. Did she remember him? 

"I'm… I'm Dorincort. I have an appointment to see Mr. Smythe about the Arabian colt." 

"How… how do you do? So you are the gentleman who is the cause of this ruckus!" 

"I beg your pardon?"  

Hesitantly she linked her arm with his. "Papa was quite cross when Pere told him you would be coming to see Amon-Ra. He hates to sell any of the Arabians. They’re the descendants of the ones Papa brought home with him from Egypt, and it’s like parting with a child." She smiled up at him shyly. "Come along, Mr. Dorincort. I'll take you around back and introduce you to the Papas." 

She was more striking than he recalled. He was so enthralled by her beauty that he barely paid any heed to what she was saying. She led him past the back of the rambling house, to a large, airy stable. "Pere? Papa?" 

Two men strolled out of the stable, and Dorincort noticed there was straw sticking in their clothing and their hair. They were a striking pair. One was as fair as the young lady at his side, with white blond hair. His strong good looks might have been marred by the black patch that covered his right eye, but instead they were enhanced. The man at his side was compactly built, with brown hair and blue eyes.   

Suddenly the beautiful girl clapped a hand to her mouth. "Pardon me," she mumbled in embarrassment, and raced back toward the house. 

"You'll have to excuse our daughter. She isn't feeling quite the thing just now." 

"Your daughter? You are Sayer and Smythe? I beg your pardon, but neither of you looks old enough to have a child who is in her late teens." 

"Really? That's very odd," the brown-haired man said, dismissing the words as an attempt at flattery. He extended his hand. "I'm Sayer. This is Captain Smythe." 

Captain Smythe bumped his partner's shoulder. "I haven't been a captain in donkey's years, Roddy. How do you do, Dorincort? So you're interested in seeing Amon-Ra?" 

"Yes, sir, I am." The black-haired man couldn't resist glancing back toward the house. "And that's not all I'm interested in!" 


"And that's how your mother and father met, my boy." 

"And they fell in love and were married, and then I came along!" I crowed. I loved hearing the story, and Papa would patiently tell it to me whenever I asked. 

"That's right, Drew. And then came you." He patted my cheek. 

I was too young at the time to realize the tale had been highly censored for young ears. "See?" I teased Robin, my younger brother. "I came first! That’s why Mum and Dad love me best!" 

Papa gave a snort of laughter. “Your parents love you both the same. Young scamp!” He ruffled my midnight hair, and then leaned over to do the same for Robin, his hand lingering on the white blond curls. I always regretted that I wasn’t as fair as the rest of the family. "Time for both you young gentlemen to go to bed now. When you wake in the morning, you'll have a brand new brother or sister." 

Papa and Pere were minding us while Mum had the new baby. We weren't certain what was involved in having a baby, but since we got to stay with the Papas, we didn't really mind that our normal routines were disrupted. And I got to ride horses instead of ponies. 

"Tommy!" Papa called. "It's bedtime!" 

Pere was suddenly in the doorway, looking at Papa the same way I'd seen Dad look at Mum when he thought I wasn't paying attention. "Oh, yes?" 

Papa blushed, which was something Mum would do also. I rather wondered about that. "The boys are going up to bed. Come help me tuck them in." 

The four of us trooped up the stairs, with Robin riding Pere's shoulders, and my hand tucked in Papa’s.  

When all the nightly rituals were completed, when we'd washed our hands and faces, when we'd brushed our teeth and said our prayers, we climbed into the two little beds that were in the room across the hall from the Papas, and they kissed us good night. 

After the light had been turned out and the door closed behind them, Robin whispered, in a very little voice, "Drew?" 

"Come on." I raised my covers, and he hopped out of his bed and scooted into mine. He nestled against my side. I put my arm around him, and he sighed in relief. Even though we had been to Almeria Hall many times before, and had even stayed as far away from home as Fortescue Manor with Grandmother, Robin didn't sleep well in any bed but his own. So I let him sleep with me. He was such a little boy, and Dad said it was my job as the big brother to look after him.  

I pretended it was a chore, but I did it because even though I might tease him unmercifully, I loved him. 


The next morning, Robin and I finished dressing and hurried downstairs to the breakfast room. Although at home in Dorincort Place we would have our morning hot chocolate in the schoolroom that was in our wing of the house, the Papas said they liked us joining them for breakfast.  

Mrs. Daniels bustled in and placed bowls of steaming oatmeal in front of us. She poured cream over Robin's, and sprinkled it with sugar, but I was able to do that for myself. I had a spoonful of cereal in my mouth when my brother announced, "I had that dream again last night, Pere." 

"Oh? Which one was that, Robin?" 

"The one where I got to sleep with a puppy."  

Before anyone could remark on that, Mrs. Daniels came rushing back in. "Miss Shani had the baby, sirs! It's another boy!" 

The Papas grinned at each other. "Well, she hasn't her little girl yet, but it looks as if Shani has finally gotten her Thomas, love." Papa winked at Pere. Mum had insisted that if she had a boy again, this time he was to be named after Pere.  

And the topic of Robin's dream was forgotten.  


By the time Mum and Dad were satisfied with the number of children they had, there were five of us all told. Another boy, Alan, followed Young Thom, and then, when I was twelve Mum had Ariane, the little girl she'd been yearning to give Dad.  

Whenever any of the younger ones had nightmares, they would insist on crawling into bed with me, claiming that then they only dreamed of a dog that stood guard over them and protected them. 

Because it was the tradition in the family, when I reached the appropriate age I was sent away to attend public school. It was one that every Dorincort male had gone to. I worried about the Siblings, but Mum and Dad were there, and they wouldn’t let anything happen to them. 

During my last year in school, strange things began happening. I'd begun waking to find dog hair all over my pillow, and my sheets shredded. I had been invited to a friend's house for the hols, but I decided I'd better talk to Dad about it, and declined.  

It was rather late when I drove the little MG my parents had given me for my seventeenth birthday up the winding drive of Dorincort Place. Everyone had already gone to bed. I let myself into the house and went up to my bedroom. 

Perhaps it was being in my own bed, surrounded by my family, but for the first time in months, I slept well. 

The sun was just peeking through the curtains. Squeals and shouts were the only warning I had. "Drew's home! Drew's home!" Three bodies landed on me, and I 'oofed', and pushed my hair out of my eyes. From the doorway, Robin stood, regarding us with a mock frown.  

"Don't just stand there!" I roared at him. "Rescue me!" 

With a whoop, he hurled himself at the pile of Dorincorts that covered me. As if they had rehearsed this very action, our younger brothers and sister rolled out of the way, leaving me at the mercy of Robin's attack. He landed square on my stomach. 

I flipped him off and growled, and the four of them froze, surprise on their faces. Then Ariane giggled and snuggled her head under my chin. "You sound just like the woof, Drew." 

"What woof, peanut?" 

"The woof that keeps the bad dreams away." My little sister dreamed of a wolf protecting her? Before I could wonder about that, she distracted me by planting a sloppy kiss on my chin and bouncing up. "I'm hungry!" 

And just like that, I was alone in my room, having been abandoned for food. I chuckled as I slid out of bed. It was nice to know where I ranked with my family. I dressed quickly. I was hungry myself. 

I walked into the breakfast room and went first to Mum, kissing her cheek. "Did you tell me you would be coming home for the holidays, Drew?" she asked as she watched me greet Dad with a kiss also. 

"No, Mum. I was supposed to spend a week with Merivale, but… but I really need to speak with you, Dad." 

"Of course, Drew." Dad raised an eyebrow. "Now?" 

"No, sir, finish eating. After breakfast will be fine." I filled my plate with eggs and sausages from the side board and sat down at my place on Dad's left. 

"I dreamed of the wolf last night, Drew." Robin glanced up, a slice of sausage suspended from his fork, and grinned. "It’s rather queer, you know. I never have those dreams when you're away from home." 

Mum and Dad both turned sharply. "How long have you been having those dreams, Robert?" 

Robin looked surprised. He was never called by his proper name unless he had done something that displeased the parents. He shrugged. "I've always had them." 

Our parents looked toward Young Thom, Alan and Ariane, who were listening with varying degrees of interest. “And you?” 

"Ditto." "So have I."  "Me, too." The Siblings chimed in one after another. 

All eyes focused on me, and I hunched a defensive shoulder. "Well, I haven't." 

"Now, that's very interesting," Dad murmured. "Why did none of you ever say anything?" 

"It’s just a dream, Dad," Robin maintained. "And none of the others mentioned it. I didn't know they had a similar dream." 

I swallowed hard and faced my father squarely. "I knew." Somehow, I had always known. 

Mum reached for Dad's hand. "Errol?" 

He squeezed her fingers gently. "We should have had this talk sooner."  

I could feel a blush heat my cheeks. Although I was the only one of the Siblings with dark hair, my skin was fair enough to betray emotion. "You're not going to tell me about the birds and the bees, are you, Dad?” I tried for a diversion. “I assure you, there's no need." 

He looked interested at that, and I bit my lip and blushed harder. I had no intention of telling him that I had learned the fascinating difference between boys and girls, and even boys and boys, on my own a couple of years before.  

"No, Andrew, but there's something else I must tell you. I should have spoken of this to you sooner, but your Mum and I weren't sure when it would be necessary." He rose from his chair. "Let's go into the library, shall we?" 

The Siblings looked as if they were about to follow us. "No," Mum informed them in a tone of voice she rarely used, and which was therefore all the more effective. They subsided in their seats and resumed breakfast. "I'll bring some coffee in after a bit, Errol. I'm sure you're both going to need it." 


Once we were in the library, Dad seemed at a loss as to where to start. Finally he said, "You know the story Papa tells of how your mother and I met." 

I raised an eyebrow at that. Around the time I'd started getting interested in the opposite sex, I'd done a little arithmetic and figured that my own parents must have jumped the gun and had sex before they were married. Then I'd forgotten about it, because we, all the Siblings, knew that when Mum and Dad got a certain look in their eye and disappeared into their bedroom, something was going on. 

"Yes, Dad." 

"I think I can assume by the look on your face that you have more or less put two and two together.” He smiled wryly. “Has the very expensive public school to which I've been sending you taught you enough geography that you've heard of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania?" 

That was a non sequitur if ever I'd heard one. "Wasn't that Dracula's stomping ground, Dad?" 

"And this is what passes for modern education." He ran a hand through his midnight hair. "You know you're different from other boys, different from your own brothers and sister." 

He was so serious that I grew frightened. "You're not going to tell me I'm adopted, are you, Dad?" 

"No, son." 

"I'm not from Krypton, am I?" 

"No, Drew, you're not a 'strange visitor from another planet'." A small smile flitted across his face, to vanish. He gripped my shoulders.  

All I heard was the 'no'. I chuckled in relief. "You scared me, Dad. I thought for a second you were going to tell me… I don’t know what you were going to tell me!” My relief was short-lived. 

“Listen to me, Andrew. During the War, I was vetted to the Underground in Romania. I can’t, and won’t go into the work that was done behind the lines, but I will tell you that I encountered a young gypsy, and we formed a strong friendship. It was through that friendship that I met Lawrence Talbot, your mother’s natural father.” He released me, and I sank numbly into a chair. “Years ago, in Kent, he had been bitten by a werewolf. Talbot passed that on to his daughter.  

"Don't ask me how they learned that I also carried the wolf’s strain. The wise woman, most likely. When I was reassigned to the Near East, Talbot managed to keep track of me. And then after the War…" His eyes got a faraway look. "I used to dream. I dreamed of your mother…" 

I rose jerkily to my feet, pacing the carpet in front of Dad's desk, and thought of the hairs on the pillow, and the torn sheets. My mind tried to shy away from the only conclusion I could draw. “You’re saying I’m a werewolf? Dad, I can’t be a werewolf! I’d have to be bitten by a werewolf to be one, and I haven't been bitten!" 

My father shook his head. "You were conceived under a full moon in the Carpathian Mountains, by two people of the blood. You are a shape shifter, Andrew." 

I forgot myself and swore. "Oh, fuck!" I started to shake. Dad put his arms around me and held me tightly. "I'm going to turn into Rin Tin Tin every month and eat people?" 

"No! Drew, no! Listen to me! It won't be like that for you!" 

I yanked myself free, dashing a hand under my eyes to wipe away the moisture. "Can you promise me that?" I demanded furiously. 

"Of course I can't promise you that, no more than I can promise that you won't grow up to be Jack the Ripper. But what are the odds that you'll become a serial killer?" Dad raised his arms, as if he would pull me into his embrace again, but I backed away from him, and he dropped them.  

I blinked rapidly. "Am I going to be a danger to the Siblings, Dad?"  

He turned to a chest where Mum had placed the coffee service and poured us each a cup. I hadn't even heard her come in. She sat in Dad's overstuffed easy chair and watched us with concerned eyes.  

"Drink this, Drew." It was too sweet and too hot, but I drank it gratefully. "They are your blood, your kin. Your pack. You've guarded them, even in their sleep. You will never harm them. You are the alpha male, and even if you were challenged by one of your brothers, you would not hurt them. The Siblings carry the line, and they'll pass that on when they have children." 

"Will they turn?" 

"It's a possibility, but we just don't know. A situation like this has never come up before.”  

"No one having been conceived under a full moon in the Carpathians?" His expression grew wary. "What? Is there something else you've neglected to tell me? The icing on the cake would be for you to tell me you and Mum were wolves when you fucked." 

The sound of his palm connecting with my cheek was loud in the room. I stared at him in shock. His face was pale, and there was a white line around his lips. "You will not use language like that in your mother's presence!" 

"No. No, of course not." I turned to face her, but she was already beside me, taking me in her comfortable embrace and petting my hair. "Mum, I'm sorry." I burrowed my head against her shoulder. "What do I do?" 

Dad put his arms around the both of us. "We, Drew. You are  not alone in this." I shifted my head to his shoulder, and he stroked my hair. "Spend some time at home, son. I'll teach you all I know." 

Note: ~~~ indicates the story being told. This story takes place before the necessity of safe sex. Unless you're going to have sex with an extraterrestrial, the management recommends the wearing of rubbers. 

Part 3


Growing up in the Black Lagoon was everything anyone could hope for. My days were often spent in the company of my father, David Reed, a renowned ichthyologist, scouring the bottom of the Lagoon for any traces of the creature that had once called this place home. Dating back to the Devonian era, a hundred and fifty million years ago, it seemed to have been as comfortable on the land as in the water. 

Other times they were spent with Ric'u, the big, green Brachian who was my other father, who taught me how to coexist with the inhabitants of our little slice of paradise, to distinguish predator from prey, and to protect what was ours. 

Almost seven feet tall, the extraterrestrial had established a mental bond with the young David, a bond that was nearly severed when his ship crash landed on Earth. The boy had buried it so deeply in his subconscious that it was only reestablished when the scientist, as an adult, came to the Amazon to continue his studies of lungfish. 

The two mated, and my Pop, to his unending surprise, became pregnant and produced me. A combination of Terran and Brachian genes, neither of them was certain how I would result. They learned early that I could take on the characteristics of whichever parent I was with, but as I grew older this happened less and less frequently. Dad offered the premise that it was perhaps because of the atmospheric and geophysical conditions of Earth. I shrugged. I was what I was. 

I was quite young the first time I met my Terran grandparents. They had come to the Amazon searching for their son, and had been amazed to find him finally settled down with his heart's desire. And a child. 

They had pleaded with my fathers to permit me to visit, and finally, when I was almost ten, Pop took me to their home in California, in the United States. I found everything intriguing, and was looking forward to finally meeting children my own age, until I discovered how very helpless they were. I shook my head in amazement. 

"Papa, they can't even do this!" I clenched my fists and razor-sharp claws extended from my knuckles. 

Gently, Papa opened my fingers, and they retracted. "No, Da'ric, they can't. And please don't let anyone see you do that." He stroked his hand over my hair. "It will be safer for you if people don’t realize how different you are." 

I shrugged. "Okay, Papa." I'd had this same conversation with Dad, and I had promised him to be as unobtrusive as possible. That was why I wore glasses with tinted lenses, to conceal the vertical pupils of my eyes. "Will we be going home soon?" 

"Da', how would you feel about staying with Gram and Granddad, and going to school here in the States?" 

"Oh, yes!" I'd heard Papa speak of the time he'd spent at school, and I was extremely curious about the place he remembered with such fondness. "But… will you and Daddy be here also?" 

"No, tadpole. Daddy can't leave the Lagoon. People might be afraid if they saw him." 

"That's stupid! Why?" 

"Have you seen anyone who looks anything like him, Da'?" 

"Well, no.” 

“Do you remember that movie we watched on the television in our hotel room in Miami?" We'd had a layover there, waiting for the flight to California. I'd been fascinated by the stories that unfolded on the small screen. 

“Frankenstein, Papa? But he was human. He was ugly, but he was a man.” 

"But what happened to the creature in the movie, tadpole?" 

"The people in the town went after him, and… and they killed him!” I had been appalled. 

He nodded. "Because they were afraid of him." 

“They would hurt Daddy, Papa? Because he's Brachian?" I knew in the Lagoon that those who were different did not survive. 

"The first time I saw him, when I was swimming in the Lagoon, I was almost scared out of my swim trunks!" 

"You were?" 

His smile was one of warm reminiscence. "He never told me what he looked like. All of a sudden he was there in the murky water, and I bit my regulator right through." 

"Silly Papa." 

"Very silly, Da'. I love your daddy more than anyone. Except for you, tadpole." He gave me a hug. "So you'll be careful. Now, I have to meet with some former colleagues at the university. Would you like to come along?" 

We got into Granddad's car and drove to the campus. I stayed close to my father, a little intimidated. 

"David!" Papa stiffened before he turned toward the tall, blond man who was striding across the commons. "David Reed! It's been years! Where had you disappeared to?" 

"Mark. I didn't expect to see you here. Are you no longer affiliated with the Instituto?" Papa held out his hand. 

The blond man ignored the hand extended to him and pulled Papa into his arms. "Everyone thought you had fallen off the face of the earth! I must say, you're looking very fit!" He reached down to pet Papa's backside, and in spite of myself, my hands fisted. I was about to strike out, when Papa looked at me. 

"Da'!" he said sharply, his tone a warning. He moved out of the other man's embrace. "This is Dr. Mark Williams. Papa used to work with him." 

"Papa? This handsome young man is your son? Oh, David, you sly devil, you! Does he have your eyes?" Before I could prevent him, the man removed my sunglasses. "What…? David, what's wrong with his eyes?" 

Papa took the lenses from Dr. Williams and slid them back on my face. "There's nothing wrong with my son, Mark. And I'd appreciate it if you kept this information to yourself." 

"Well, yes. Certainly." He couldn't take his eyes away from me, studying me intently. "I… uh… I guess this means you wouldn't be free for dinner… and dessert… afterwards?" 

"Is Kay here, Mark?" Later Papa told me the blond scientist had married an associate he had met at the Instituto de Biologia de Maritima at Moragio Bay in Brazil. 

"No, she's attending a conference in San Francisco. And I imagine your wife wouldn't approve, either." He sighed and shook his head regretfully. "My usual rotten luck. I have to run, David. Maybe we can get together another time." He grabbed Papa to hug him again, and this time turned his head and got his mouth on Papa's.  "Oww! What the…?" 

While the man rubbed his backside, Papa freed himself and casually wiped his mouth. I pretended to be examining something on the ground with studious intent. "I'm late. Good-bye, Mark." He grabbed my arm and hustled me away. He didn't say anything until we entered one of the buildings. By that time his face was quite red, and I was afraid I had misjudged the situation and had angered him, but he began laughing, and laughed until he was out of breath and tears were streaming down his cheeks. "I hope you pulled your punch, Da'. It wouldn't be easy explaining a puncture wound!" 

"I just jabbed him a little bit. You're not mad at me, are you Papa?" 

"Not at you, tadpole." 

"Why did he try to kiss you?" 

"Mark never did know how to accept a polite refusal." He led me down a corridor to the chancellor's office. His next words were so spoken so softly, I knew I wasn't meant to hear them. "I just hope he knows how to keep his mouth shut about your eyes." 


I was intrigued by the snakes that lived in our part of the Amazon rainforest. If I was to follow in Pop's footsteps and become, not an ichthyologist but a reputable herpetologist, I needed a documented education. I had no problem being placed in the California school system; Pop and Dad had taught me well. 

And so each September I would fly to California, and each May I would fly home. It was in my records that I suffered from some obscure genetic condition that resulted in an extreme sensitivity to light, and so I had to wear tinted lenses at all times. 

Once I reached high school, I also needed to be excused from physical education. I would have had to strip in the locker room, and while I passed for Terran while I was dressed, my Brachian heritage was obvious when I was naked. My cock and balls were encased in a sheath of soft skin at my groin, and I had no navel. There was a faint pattern of scales over my belly and chest, and my toes were webbed. 

A good friend of Granddad's, who was a doctor, was pleased to do him the favor. I  wanted to ask what reason my grandfather had given him to explain my need to be excused from gym, but he just grinned and looked mysterious. 


It was my last year in high school. I'd gone through the formality of applying to Pop's alma mater, but they scrambled all over themselves to be sure I was accepted. Meanwhile, there was no reason to slack off. A vast warehouse of knowledge was out there, and I relished dipping into it. 

I drove the little yellow VW Bug that Gram and Granddad had bought for me, once I’d obtained my driver's license, into the student parking lot of Andrew Burnett High School and found an empty spot. 

"Day-O! Wait up!" Den Moskowitz came rushing up to me. "Want to come over this afternoon? I've got the place to myself. We could practice," he offered shyly. "If you want." 

I smiled. I hated being called that name; it made me sound like a calypso song, but from kid who lived next door to Gram, I accepted it. 

We had first met when I started school in the States. Gram encouraged me to play with him. It was too cold to go in the pool, and I had no clue what to do with him. He was skinny and short and needed to wear a patch over one eye for the longest time, because some kid had thrown dirt in his face when he'd tried out for Little League. 

I took him in the kitchen for a snack. He stared at me in fascination. 

"Is there milk on my lip?" I asked him. 

"No," he'd said simply. "I've just never seen anyone with eyes like yours before." 

I clapped a hand to my face, but obviously I'd removed my glasses and had forgotten to put them back on before Den came in. I found them and slapped them on. "Shit!" 

He gaped at me. "You're allowed to say words like that? My mother would have a heart attack, and my father would beat the…" He grinned at me mischievously. "… the shit out of me. Don't worry, Day. I won't tell anyone, I promise! About your eyes, I mean." 

Just like that. He didn't ask for anything in exchange, not friendship, not respect, nothing. 

So of course, I had to give him at least that back. He deserved nothing less. 

Originally we went to different schools, but each afternoon, he would come over, and we would finish our homework. 

Den told me that he wanted to write stories. He submitted articles to kids' magazines and school publications, and whenever one was printed, he would run over to show me. 

His pleading with his parents finally paid off, and at the beginning of this term, he had been allowed to transfer to Burnett. 

Some days after school, he would join me in Granddad's study. Some days I would go to his house. He would sit on the big leather sofa by the window, telling me stories. 

Usually I'd sit at the other end, not saying a word, just watching his face and listening to him. 


The gentle kiss of the tractor beam against the hull of the transport brought The Protector to full awareness, Den began. 

Sitting up in his bunk in Security, he sent out tendrils of thought, cautiously searching out the corridors of the now motionless ship. 

There! A Marauder was silently disgorging a small band of ship-techs to burn open the lock in the rear hull.

He'd just have time to round up his charges. With one hand he slapped the silent alarm he had installed himself before leaving the home planet of his cargo of brides, sending a mayday through space. With the other he triggered the ship's intercomm and ordered the women to the control deck, which was the most heavily fortified place on the ship… 


By the time he reached one of the periodic climaxes, I'd swung my legs up onto the couch and pulled him back into the notch of my thighs. My fingers smoothed over his torso, finding and arousing his nipples into pebble-hard bits of flesh. He sighed and leaned into me. 

"Go on," I whispered, and my breath in his ear made him shiver. I could see his dick was starting to tent his sweatpants. I eased my fingers under his waistband and took the hot length of him in my hand, surprised to find him naked. "Oh, Den, you’re so bad! Did you forget your underwear this morning?" 

"And if I said yes?" 

"Oh, baby, I'd just have to let you fuck me senseless!" My cock started to slide out of its sheath, and he could feel me against his back. We'd done everything but, and he moaned at my words. 

"Really, Day? I have everything up in my room!" Laughing excitedly, he scrambled off the couch and pulled me after him. We ran up the stairs to his bedroom, and I locked the door behind us as he hurried to his night stand and removed a tube of lubricant. And then he turned toward me hesitantly, biting his lip. 

"What is it, Den?" I had placed my tinted glasses on a dresser and was grasping the hem of my Andrew Burnett High sweatshirt, but I paused. "Did you change your mind?" 

He came to me, pushing the shirt up out of the way. "Your body is so beautiful!" Over the past summer, I'd had a growth spurt, and reached what was probably my adult height of six feet three. Den didn't come up much past my heart. His arms went around my waist, and he held me tight, resting his head on my chest, while his hands stroked up and down my back, lingering on the curves of my ass. 

"Den? You didn't answer me. Would you… would you rather not do this?" 

He tipped his head back. "Are you kidding? I'm just trying to romance you!" His hands furrowed through my hair and dragged my head down to his. "Open your mouth!" he ordered, and helplessly, I obeyed him. He ran his tongue over my lips, and then dipped past my teeth and teased my tongue. 

Den did this to me every time, reduced me to a puddle of raging lust. I wrapped my arms around him, lifted him off his feet, and turned to fall backwards across his bed, cushioning his body with mine. 

His fingers were frantic on the buttons of my jeans. I kicked off my running shoes and wiggled my hips to help him get the snug denim down over them and off my legs. I didn't have underwear on either, but I had taken the time to remove my briefs at home, before I showed up at my friend's front door. 

"Oh, Day!" he moaned. "I love your cock!" It was completely out of its sheath and glistened from the precome that was oozing from the tip. He dragged his tongue over the promise of a knot, and then dragged it over the flushed head. My hips jerked uncontrollably, and suddenly I was in the wet heat of his mouth. His fingers dug into my hips almost painfully, and he held me still as he swallowed my entire length. I could feel the rippling of his throat muscles. His head bobbed up and down, and he suckled voraciously. 

"De… Den, I'm …" I tried to warn him, but my orgasm overtook me, and I began to spill myself into his mouth. He didn't pull off, but swallowed what I gave him, and I wallowed in boneless satisfaction, enjoying the minute licks he used to tidy me up. "Thank you, Den. You didn't have to do that, though." 

"I wanted to. I love how you taste, Day. The first time I sucked you off I thought you'd taste like the ocean, salty, slightly bitter, but instead you taste like the sweet milk bubbling up from the earth's hot heart. Roll over, baby. I want to see how hot you are this way." He levered himself off me, and I rolled onto my stomach. 

At some point Den had stripped out of his clothes, and now was as naked as I. His muscles were lean and tight. He might be short, but he was strong. I knew I'd have bruises where he'd gripped my hips earlier. He picked up the slightly squashed tube of lube and squirted some onto his fingers 

He stroked the crevice between my buttocks, searching for my puckered opening. I hummed with pleasure as he found it. A fingertip pressed forward, and the muscle relaxed enough to accept it. "Oh, god, Day! You're so hot!" He scattered kisses across my back, edging higher and higher. The wiry hair of his groin tickled the sensitive skin where thigh and ass joined, and suddenly I felt something broad and blunt pushing into me. 

Den was big, and I had to breathe through the discomfort of his bulk stretching me. I spread my legs further and bowed my back, taking him deeper. The different angle brought him into contact with that spot inside me, and I forgot the burn and moaned from the pleasure. 

"Is that it, Day? I'm not hurting you, am I?" 

I couldn't answer. This felt even better than him sucking me off. I thrust back, encouraging him to go faster, harder, deeper. 

Den set up a steady rhythm, almost pulling out, only his cock head still within me, and then slamming forward, hitting my prostate. I whined and begged and groaned, and before he came, I was hard again. He reached under me to take my dick in his slicked hand, and he jerked me off while he fucked me. I couldn't hold out, and came again. With a hoarse cry, Den followed me, his hot semen filling my passage, and I shuddered under him. 

I sprawled across his bed, with him plastered to my back, and still buried inside me. We dozed for a bit, and when he became too soft, he slid out of me. He rested his cheek on my shoulder blade, occasionally flicking his tongue out to taste a patch of skin. 

He shivered. "It's getting too cool for us to stay like this," he sighed. "Let's take a shower.” 

I smiled at him. “Are we going to do it in the shower, Den?” 

“God, you’re insatiable!” he grumped, then spoiled it by winking at me. “You bet your ass!” 

He took me braced against the tile of the shower stall, the hot water beating down on us. He fucked me so hard that I was limping a little as I went around his room gathering my clothing. 

We'd cut it really fine. Den's mother was just coming in the front door as we came down the stairs. She worked for a real estate company, and had been out all day selling residential properties. Her eyebrow arched as she eyed our damp hair, but didn't say anything. "Hi, Mom.” 

She ruffled her son’s hair. 

“Hi, Mrs. Moskowitz.” I pushed my glasses firmly back against the bridge of my nose. 

“David.” I’d long since stopped trying to correct her. 

“We ordered a pineapple bacon pizza. Mom. Want some?" 

“Save me a slice, Denny. I’m going to soak in a hot tub. What a day!” She started past us. “Seems like you two had quite a day as well.” She disappeared up the stairs. 

I swallowed hard. “Den!” I said urgently. “We left that bathroom in a shambles! Your mother is going to have a fit when she realizes what we’ve been up to!” 

“Nah. The master suite has its own bath. You worry too much, you know that, Day-O?” 

I grabbed the Burnett High sweatshirt that he had put on and dragged him up on his toes until we were chest to chest. “You know I hate that name?” 

He ran his palm over my jaw and kissed me.  “Yeah, I know.” Just then the doorbell chimed. “That’ll be dinner.” 

I was tempted to deepen the kiss, but released him instead, and took the white box that held the pizza while he paid the delivery boy. We went into the dining room and took a slice of pie each. 

“Okay, now where had I left off?” 


Ah! The cargo mate! In his excitement at the completion of his mission, he was failing to shield his thoughts as well as he should have. 

As a hound follows a scent, The Protector traced the mate's unconscious broadcast, making him easy to track. He was preparing to trigger the cargo bay locks, which led to the outer skin of the ship where the Pirates were entering. 

Silently The Protector drew his laser saber and flicked it on. And almost audible vibration ran up his arm as the saber hummed to life. A faint train of luminescence marked its passing, and then there was a thud as head was separated from shoulders and the body slumped to the deck. 

He shook his head, his sculpted lips curled in a derisive grin. "Should have known better than to fuck with The Protector!" He left the body as a warning, hoping the Pirates would get the message and leave, but strongly doubting it. 


"Nice touch, having the cargo mate lose his head," I murmured as I nibbled the crust of my last slice of pizza. 

"You don't think it was too much, beheading the jerk?" 

"Nah. He deserved it. Oh, man. Look at the time! I’ve got to get home." Den walked me to the door. “Listen, you think your Mom would let you sleep over tomorrow night? Chiller Theater is having a werewolf marathon.” 

“Are we actually going to watch the movies?” 


“Good. Then I’ll be there.” 


Note: ~~~ indicates the story being told. An Ymir is the creature from the 1957 movie Twenty Million Miles to Earth. The giant ape is of course King Kong, the ’76 version. Yeti is the abominable snowman, and the shark is Bruce from Jaws. Guarini is the currency of Paraguay; Real is the currency of Brazil. Thanks to Wolfsbride for finding all those anaconda sites. Now we know there’s a town, several stores, and a law firm! 

Part 4


The story Den told me had no title, and the hero was only known as The Protector. We lay tangled together in the aftermath of hot, sweaty sex. My friend was buried deep inside me, still half hard, and I clenched inner muscles to keep him there for as long as possible. He licked the skin over my heart and began to recount the latest episode. 


The plate that permitted access into the control room, where the women had gone for safety, needed to be short-circuited. The Protector powered up his laser saber and drove the glowing tip into the center of the plate. A flare of blue-white light encircled him, and he was hurled across the corridor to slam violently against the opposite wall. The breath was knocked out of him, and he slid down to the deck, struggling to remain conscious. Pain radiated from his ribs to his toes, and roared through his skull. He touched tentative fingers to the back of his head, and he drew them away to stare dazedly at the blood that coated his hand. 

//Fool!// he castigated himself. //This should have been checked out when you first boarded this ship!// Obviously the plate had a protective device encoded into it. If he’d had enough time, and a clear head, he could have gotten around it, but the sound of footsteps pounding toward him told him that he was out of time. The Pirates rounded the far corner and were charging down the corridor. 

The Protector lurched to his feet and managed to stagger to the door of central control. He braced himself and switched on his saber. To his dismay, the fluctuating glow of the weapon indicated the extent it had been damaged by the blast of electrical power. 

The Pirates laughed, certain they had won. They would use The Protector’s own palm print to gain access to the women who were huddled defenselessly in the control room. 

The taste of defeat was like bitter rue in his mouth. His charges would be left at the mercy of this scurvy band of cutthroats. He would have failed his imperative. His eyes began to burn with determination. He would find a way to defeat them. 

No matter what the final cost, he would


“Why’d you stop there, Den?” I asked when I realized he wasn’t just pausing to take a breath before continuing. 

“That’s as far as I’ve gotten.” For a long moment he didn’t say anything, and then, “I can’t figure out what he would do, how far he would go to protect those women. What would you do, Day? If you were in the same situation as The Protector?” 

“I’d let the Pirates have ‘em,” I teased, and he nipped my chest in punishment. “Hey! Watch it, short stuff!”

“Seriously, Day! I’m stuck here, man!” 

“Seriously, Den?” I rubbed my cheek against the soft mass of hair that tickled my throat and chin. “If the ones I was charged with protecting were in such danger? If the baddies were going to use me to get to them? I’d cut off my own hand.” 

He braced his arms on either side of me and leaned up, and I hummed in pleasure as the angle of his penetration shifted a bit. His eyes enormous, he stared into my face to see if I was putting him on. “You would?” 


“But if they could still use the palm from your severed hand to gain access to the control room, it would be a wasted sacrifice.” 

“I’d make sure I found a way to destroy it.” 

“But the pain, Day?” 

“Pain only reaches a certain intensity, something like placing your hand on a hot iron, and then it’s all the same. Anyway, that’s what I’d do.” I blew into his ear and laughed softly. “So you’re going to make me wait until I come back in the fall to tell me the rest of the story?” We had graduated earlier in the afternoon, and these were our last hours together. 

Den had been accepted to Brown, a prestigious Ivy League college, and his parents insisted on showing him off to all his relatives. By the time he returned home, I’d be on a jet bound first for Miami, and then to Manaus, in Brazil, where Pop would meet me in the Desejo do Coracao. From there, we’d sail home. To the Black Lagoon. 

“The fall semester starts early in September, and I’ll have to leave for Brown in August to get settled in. Will you be back here before I have to leave?” 

“I’ll make sure I do. Den…” I sighed as he tilted his head forward and bit my neck. 


I nudged his face up and took his lips in a kiss, which threatened to get out of hand. Reluctantly I broke it off. “I’m going to miss you, Den.” 

“Geez, Day. You talk as if we’ll never see each other again! You’ll be back in the late summer, and if I don’t see you then, well, I’ll be home for the holidays.” He tightened his arms around me. “Day?” 

“Yeah, short stuff?” 

“Nothing. Just… Day.” He rocked forward gently, aroused once more. I moaned and raised my knees to grip his waist, and we made love one last time. 


Three years flew past. I’d completed my course of studies as an undergrad early, and now would be beginning the serious work that would bring me an advanced degree in herpetology. 

My relationship with Den had fallen back into simple friendship, time and distance working to temper the heat to a comfortable warmth. The last time I’d seen him, he told me of the forensic science student with whom he was living. I told him of Esme. 

Now I was returning to the States once more and had to say good-bye to her. 

“Esme, you know I love you, but I have to go!” 

Green-gold eyes stared unblinking into mine. 

“I'm serious, pet." I hugged her. "You can't go with me! I explained that to you already! And you know it's breaking my heart to leave you.” That was true. I would miss her enormously. 

She wrapped herself around me and rubbed her head under my chin. 

“Oh, it wasn’t so bad the other times I went to the States, but this time…” I let my fingers caress her sides. Her skin was soft and supple. "You won't forget me?" Her forked tongue flicked out to taste the skin of my neck, and I shivered. She always found my sensitive spots and didn’t hesitate in taking advantage of them. 

Dad appeared silently beside me. //Good thing she’s so fond of you, son.// While anacondas were constrictors and generally suffocated their prey by squeezing until the lungs had no room to expand, the bite could be painful in the extreme. Their temperament also had a tendency to be very uncertain, and one never knew if they might choose to strike. He leaned down and stroked Esme’s head. //Da’. We're losing daylight.// 

I sighed and uncoiled the water boa. She gazed at me one final time, then slithered down the bank and into the still waters of the Black Lagoon. A ripple was all that marked her passing. 

// Pop is waiting in the Jo, Da'ric.// The Jo was Desejo do Coracao, Heart’s Desire, the boat Pop had sailed up the Amazon, looking for Dad. //Do you want to sail with him, or swim with me?// 

I bounced to my feet. This semester saw me one step closer to never having to leave the Black Lagoon again, and that was what I wanted. That and someone with whom to share the beauty of that spot. 

//Swim with you, Dad! There’ll be plenty of time to sail with Pop as we get closer to civilization.// I’d also need to put some clothes on. //And you know the Jo can't keep up with us!// 

We dove into the warm water and began to swim after the twenty-seven foot boat. Before very long, we had outpaced it and were out of sight around a curve in the river. 

Abruptly, my Brachian father stopped. Anxiety radiated from him in waves. //Dad?// I had learned at a very young age to respect my fathers' mental connection, and not to peek unless invited. I had reached out for them late one night, and interrupted a private, sexual moment. I waited now to see what had disturbed him. 

The frill around Dad's neck turned a brilliant red, and a blast of mental fury erupted from him, affecting even the animals on the shore. The backwash flashed through my mind, sending me foundering beneath the surface. He was gone before I could recover from it, back toward the Desejo do Coracao. I sent a thread of thought on ahead to link with him, and as I arrowed through the murky waters of the Amazon, I 'saw' Dad propel himself onto the deck of the boat. I 'saw' him hurl himself toward Pop. 

And then, as I rounded the bend in the river, I saw the Jo explode in a roar that seemed to reverberate unendingly, gouts of flame reaching toward the sky, signaling her total destruction. //Papa!// I sent out frantic mental calls. //Dad!// There was nothing. 

Before I could strike out toward where the remains of the Jo were sinking low in the water, the rumble of an inboard motor broke through the sudden quiet. It was a beat-up old riverboat, and on her deck was a rocket launcher, still smoking from having fired the rocket that had destroyed the Jo. A hard hand reached down, closed over my shoulder and jerked me upwards. 

With a sinuous movement I sent him flying over me and into the water. I dove to intercept the man. I had no idea why he was on this stretch of the river, and I couldn’t have cared less, but I wasn’t going to permit him to leave it alive. I extended my claws and sliced him from groin to gullet. He surfaced, screaming, a trail of entrails waving like ribbons in the bloody water. 

The screams became more piercing as little silver harbingers of death converged on the scene. I made sure I was out of their way, and the water became turbulent as the piranhas fed. 

“Get him! Get him!” Cries from the boat indicated they were speeding toward me, full throttle. Something slammed into the side of my head. A pinwheel of fireworks exploded behind my eyes, and I was flung into a black well of unconsciousness. 


I slowly resurfaced to a painful throbbing in my head. My mind was fuzzy. I knew the rocking beneath me meant that I was on a boat, I knew by the heavy moisture in the air that I was in the Amazon, but I didn’t know how much time had passed. I forced myself not to panic as I realized that wasn’t all I didn’t know. I didn’t know who I was. 

A sandaled toe kicked me in the ribs, rolling me onto my back.  My pupils were so widely dilated that a stray beam from the setting sun felt as if a knife was slicing through my brain. My stomach roiled in protest, and I curled onto my side. 

Thick, blunt fingers twisted in my hair and yanked my head back. “What a pretty boy we have here,” the sandy-haired man gloated, but he barely spared me a glance. He seemed to be looking for something else. He scowled at the men who stood at a cautious distance, and his voice sharpened. “Where is the other?” 

“Gone in the explosion, jefe. We did as you ordered us and destroyed the boat. But we only caught this one. This was what you wanted, no?” 

No! Tolos! Fools! I needed David Reed alive, to know I had his son! What am I do to with him if his father is dead?” He threw me away from him, toward his crew of half breed scoundrels and bastards, and with a dirty laugh, one of them reached for my cock, no doubt thinking it was encased in some sort of swimsuit. 

Papa was dead? Abruptly, I remembered everything,  and I was overwhelmed by the need for action. In blind vengeance, I closed my hand and lashed out, hearing a satisfying cry of pain from whoever had grabbed me. “My balls! El tiene un cuchillo! He has a knife!” he howled in fear and anguish. Blood spilled onto the deck, and he collapsed onto it, clutching his lower body. 

“Madre do Deus, he has cut Julio’s balls!” 

If I could only get back into the water I’d be able to escape these men, but before I could get over the side of the boat I was seized. 

“Where did he get a knife? He is naked! How did you let him get his hands on a weapon?” the one called ‘jefe’ demanded. His accent was a mixture of Paraguayan Guarani and Brazilian Portuguese. 

Ai! Look at his hand!” 

There was a growl of fury from the jefe. “Keep it fisted like that!” I heard the whistling of something heavy as it was swung overhead, and then there was a splintering sound, and pain radiated up from my hand. I gasped, almost in shock as the claws that had emerged from my knuckles were shattered, leaving bloody stubs behind. “Now the other one!” 

I bit back a moan. Fingers dug into my chin and raised my head. I stared into the face of the man who had destroyed my defenses. 

“Was that necessary, Sarone?” A white man had stepped onto the boat from the yacht that was tied up beside it, and which I hadn’t noticed before. 

Sarone didn’t answer; he probably felt it was a stupid question.  Instead, he responded with a question of his own. “How can this be the son of David Reed, Halliwell? Look at him! He is a freak!” The jefe’s eyes narrowed as they finally categorized the differences in my body. 

“I happened to run into a certain scientist, a Mark Williams, one night in a bar in Curacao. It was rather titillating to learn that we had both sampled the charms of the same lover.” The one called Halliwell put a cigar to his lips, and his cheeks hollowed as he sucked in a mouthful of smoke. “Williams bemoaned the fact that David Reed had married and produced a whelp with very unusual eyes.” He blew a series of perfect smoke rings. 

Sarone’s grin became evil. “Ah, so this is the son of my little baby bird!” he said with satisfaction. 

“What do we do with him, jefe?” his men demanded. “He is a demon! His eyes, they are snake’s eyes! And see! He has webbed feet, no nipples, no ombligo!” 

“Demons are not born! They do not have navels, estupido! You do not want to fuck a demon?” The men crossed themselves and quickly backed away from me. I cradled my injured hands to my chest, and their leader’s expression grew cunning. “Yes, look at him. I have a friend who supplies someone in London who runs a freak show. Juan just happens to be in Manaus, and I think he will give me a nice price for this one. If his pai is dead, I have no use for this baby bird!” 

“If you don’t, then I do, Sarone. You promised me a chance at his father’s ass if I bankrolled you, and if I can’t have the father, then by god, I’ll have the son!” The white man crouched down next to me. “Secure him, and have your men take him to my cabin on the yacht.” 

They did it, but by the time they succeeded in tossing me face down on the bunk in Halliwell’s cabin, mine wasn’t the only blood that was covering them. They hadn’t realized I would fight back so desperately. 


The white man stood beside where I lay, my arms bound tightly behind my back. 

“Who are you?” I asked through gritted teeth. “Why are you doing this?” 

“My name is Jack Halliwell.” Blue-eyed and blond and probably not too much over forty, he might have been quite handsome at one time, but his looks had been dissipated by too much alcohol and rich food. Spider veins crawled over his once classic nose, his eyes were pouchy and bloodshot, and his gut spilled over his belt. He seemed disappointed that his name meant nothing to me. 

Halliwell began undressing fastidiously, putting his white suit neatly out of the way. “I knew your father many years ago. I wanted to marry him.” He paused. “Did you know your father is a slut? Was a slut? David Reed would sleep with anyone with the right equipment between his legs.” He turned to study my face. Blood seeped from my nose, my lip was badly cut, and I could feel a bruise forming high on my cheekbone. His mouth made a moue, and then he shrugged. “Well, it isn’t as if I want to make love to you,” he mused. Before I could sigh in relief, his lips turned up in a smug, self-satisfied smile. “I’m going to fuck you.” 

Naked, he was even more unappealing than clothed. His dick was like a fat, white slug. The idea of rape excited him; he quickly grew aroused. 

The door to the cabin was thrown open, and Sarone stalked in. Halliwell cocked an eyebrow at him, unconcerned that he was unclothed. 

“I have decided that what you said was true. Since the father is no longer available….. ” Devastation swept through me at the knowledge that both my fathers were gone. I wanted to close my eyes to shut out Sarone’s gloating, but forced myself to keep them open.  “….  I will have the son.” He examined me critically, tugging on the rope around my wrists. “He will need to be restrained.” Sarone shed his own clothes. 

“You thought, perhaps, I was unprepared?” Halliwell chuckled, and produced a couple of sets of handcuffs from a drawer built into his bunk. “This is my own little pleasure barge,” he leered as he snapped them around my wrists, and at his nod, Sarone untied the cords that restrained my arms. I struggled, but it was futile; he was very strong, and I wound up manacled to a hook that had no doubt been placed at the head of the bunk for that purpose. 

A bolster was shoved under my hips, raising my ass, and then Halliwell climbed up behind me. “You will take him dry?” Sarone asked idly, while he made sure my ankles were secured as well, and the other man frowned. 

“Of course not. I’m not a barbarian!” And then he spoiled it. “Do you think I want to chafe myself?” He coated his dick with lubricant, pulled apart my ass cheeks and shoved roughly into me. I had managed to relax enough so the discomfort was minimal. Halliwell grunted as he rutted into me. He must not have had sex in a while, because after not more than six or eight strokes he was filling my passage with his semen. 

Halliwell pulled out of me, and come dribbled down my thighs. He was puffing like a steam engine as he tried to regain his breath. Sarone licked his lips in anticipation. He didn’t bother to use the lube, but Halliwell’s come worked well enough so I wasn’t torn when Sarone slammed into me. I bit my lip, and winced as I bit down on the spot that was cut. Sarone was determined to last longer than the other man, and each time he came close to coming I felt him grip the base of his cock to stave off climax one more time. 

Finally he couldn’t hold off any longer, and his cock pulsed as he came. 

“How long will it take us to get to…. where did you say your friend was?” Halliwell asked as he cleaned himself off and began to dress again. 

“Manaus. In this pretty little sailboat of yours? I would say about three or four days.” 

“Really?” His hands paused, and then he let his trousers drop to the floor and stepped out of them. “In that case, I believe I’ll have another go at him.” 

Sarone got off the bunk and politely gestured toward my ass. “Enjoy him, amigo. I will speak with my… . your crew, and set the course.” 

But I don’t think Halliwell heard that ominous slip. He was busy fucking me again. 


It was five days before we reached Manaus. Sarone and Halliwell took turns using me, but I didn’t care. The pain in my hands was a nagging reminder of the loss I had suffered, and those bastards fucking my ass was nothing compared to that. 

Only once did Halliwell try to get me to suck him off. “Your mouth is made for being fucked!” he informed me smugly. “And I’m just the man to do it!” 

Sarone watched in amusement as Halliwell waved his dick in my face. The glitter in my eyes was only partially from the fever I had developed from the untreated injury to my hands, and he quickly decided it wasn’t a good idea after all. 

Sarone’s friend was a Colombian named Zolo, who dealt in endangered species. He had a contact in London who ran a storefront exhibition. It was the sort of place that at one time might have displayed bearded ladies, Siamese twins, giants or elephant boys, but now it had on view bug-eyed monsters, out-sized sharks, a giant ape, a Yeti, and an extremely rare Ymir. 

If I showed to advantage, he’d be gaining a snake boy as well. 

Sarone insisted I clean myself up, and I was permitted a shower in the yacht’s tiny head with him watching. I washed the stink of their come from my body and tended to my hands, carefully removing the stubs of my claws. They would eventually grow back, but it would take quite some time. I found a bottle of aspirin in the first aid kit and swallowed a handful. 

Zolo arrived at the yacht, dressed in scruffy jeans and a Harley Davidson vest that had somehow found its way to South America. He paced around me pinching the flesh of my chest to see if there was something concealing nipples. “They could have been surgically removed,” he offered, glanced at Sarone, then shook his head, dismissing the possibility. He scraped my abdomen, searching for a belly button, and studied the pupils of my eyes with growing avarice. “He is la cosa verdadera, amigo? The real thing?” 

Sarone’s mouth twisted in a sly grin. “Have I ever cheated you, Juan?” Zolo snorted and cuffed his shoulder. 

“We will not discuss all the times you tried to cheat me, Paul. Very well, I think we can do a deal. How much?” 

Sarone named a figure, but I was unfamiliar with the conversion rate of guarini to real and had no idea how much it was. Zolo haggled with him for some time before the other man growled in irritation. “Basta! This is getting us nowhere. Olvidese de el. Forget it! Miguel! Senhor Zolo is leaving. Escort him to the dock!” 

“Paul, Paul. You are too serious.” He shook his head in mock despair. “Very well, amigo, you have me by los pelos cortos, by the short hairs.” He reached for a wallet in his vest and began to count out bills. 

Halliwell had been standing to the side, watching with sullen interest. He sidled over to Sarone. “I want him one last time, Paul,” he whined. 

Sarone eyed him sardonically. “And I want to marry Farrah Fawcett-Majors, hombre. Which do you think is most likely to happen?” 

When Zolo left, I went with him, dressed in garments Sarone had ordered one of the crewmembers to go ashore to buy. I was sure he included the cost of the ill-fitting sneakers, shirt and jeans in my price. I was also sure that at some point on the trip to London, Zolo would find a reason to get into those jeans. 

It turned out that Juan Zolo was an unregenerate heterosexual who had no desire to troll the other side of the river. He was passionately in love with his fiancée, and spent the entire flight to London showing me pictures and telling me about her. I imagined he didn’t often have a captive audience. 

I sat back in my window seat with my eyes closed and let his words wash over me. My hands ached. My bowels ached. And for the first time I was able to dwell on what had befallen my fathers. When I had tried again to contact them through the mental link, there had been nothing, only an echoing void. I was forced to accept that they were dead, and a single tear trickled down my cheek.


Note: The name St. John in pronounced Sinjin. Tatt’s is Tattersalls, the leading auctioneer (according to their site) of bloodstock in Europe. 

Part 5



“Papa?” I looked up in surprise from the paperwork I’d been concentrating on in the study of my London townhouse. “What are you doing in Town? Have you brought Pere along with you?” 

“He’s gone to Tatt’s to see about some promising yearlings.” I had to smile at his disgruntled tone. “He knows I hate London in December.” 

“You could have let him come to Town by himself, Papa,” I teased. 

“He’s too handsome for his own good!” he humphed. “Do you think I want to beat off his admirers with a stick?” But I could see the warm glow in his eyes. 

“You know he’d never look at anyone else.” All those years together, and I’d never seen another couple as passionately devoted; I envied them that abiding passion.  I changed the subject. “Is he looking for another Egregious Folly?” In her maiden year, the black filly had more than earned back her purchase price in the purses she brought home. Now, within a month or so, she would be delivering her second foal, having already produced a winner. 

He nodded. “Did he tell you we actually traced a descendant of Anubis? It seems he managed to sire a number of colts before the idiot who had been his previous owner had him gelded.” 

Papa had told me as a boy of the blood bay who had shared some amazing adventures with them after they had returned home from Egypt years before. “I just hope no one at the auction realizes how much Pere will be willing to spend for one of Anubis’ get.” 

Papa cocked an eyebrow at me. “Are the coffers to let, my boy?” 

“Of course not. You sold off the diamond mines just before they played out, and the investments have kept the family nicely. But I like it better when we get a large return for a small expenditure.” 

“I know. I do also.  I rather think it has to do with my Methodist upbringing.” He propped a hip against my desk. “Would you mind putting us up for the interim?” 

“You know you and Pere are always welcome. And not just because if it hadn’t been for you two taking me in after Dad told me… well, you know. I probably would have gone more to hell with myself than I did.” I’d scattered my seed that year, fucking any girl who would spread her legs for me, and as a result there were a number of children who carried my distinctive bloodline. That had shocked me back to my senses. 


“I don’t blame Dad, Papa. It’s that goddammed destiny thing.” I shook off the feeling of melancholy. “I’ll really enjoy spending time with the two of you. So will Robin.” My younger brother had gone in on the purchase of this townhouse with me, although I could have afforded it on my own. I glanced at the clock on the wall near the door. “He should be home from work soon.” 

“How has Robin been?” 

“Well, Papa. Cutting a swath through the male population.” 

I hadn’t concealed my depression as well as I thought. “Does that bother you, that your brother is gay?” 

“No, you know I’ve walked both sides of that street myself. He seems content with his lifestyle. It’s just… Robin is happy loving many. Young Thom is happy loving one. And I…” 

“How do you feel about Thom becoming engaged to a girl you dated?” 

“That’s just it, Papa. Shouldn’t I be upset that Cilla took one look at my younger brother and threw me aside without a qualm?”

“And it disturbs you that you’re not? Why?” 

“I want to be in love, Papa. I want what you and Pere have, what Mum and Dad have. Do you know I haven’t gotten laid in two years?” He was the one I had gone to the first time I’d found myself attracted to a member of my own sex, and I didn’t feel uncomfortable talking about these things with him. 

He looked startled. “But you’ve been cutting quite a swath yourself.” 

“It’s just too much of a bother, Papa. Most of them have been nice enough, but I don’t have the energy to pursue them into bed.” 

“What about this young man you’re seeing now?” 

I hunched a shoulder. “And how did you find out about St. John Ashford? I’ve only been dating him for a few weeks.” 

If he had been standing closer, I knew he would have ruffled my hair, an act I had never protested, not even when I was going through my independent stage. “A little bird keeps Pere and me up to date.” 

“A robin, perhaps?” 

“Do you mind that he tells us these things? He’s concerned about you, you know.” 

“I don’t mind, Papa. I would have told you myself if anything came of it.” 

“You think nothing will?” 

St. John Ashford was one of the most startlingly handsome men I had ever seen, with green eyes and chestnut hair that fell in glossy waves to his shoulders. “He’s spoiled. His father is a viscount, and he thinks anyone below that rank isn’t worth his notice.” 

“But he’s noticed you,” he remarked. I avoided his steady gaze, and he sighed. “Why not break it off then?” 

“It would take too much effort, Papa. St. John will grow tired eventually, and move on.” I could see my grandfather was gently disapproving. He wouldn’t understand anyone being plagued with ennui, he and the man he had lived with for so long both having led such interesting lives. “How long will you be staying with us, Papa?" 

As I had hoped, the change of subject worked. He smiled. “Probably until Boxing Day, if you have no objection. Your father felt the need to spend some time alone with your mother. Your sister has accompanied us, and Alan will be down for the hols.” 

“Good god! We’re being descended upon, en masse!” 

“Yes, well, you’re not the one who’s going to need to keep those two amused! What am I going to do with them?” 

We knew that Pere would lose himself at the auction house, leaving Papa to bear the brunt of entertaining the two youngest Dorincorts at liberty. I rose from my desk and walked around it to hug him. “We’ll come up with something, Papa.” 


Pere caught a chest cold, and Papa spent the days nursing him. I had the feeling that Pere secretly enjoyed being fussed over, and while I was convinced the two of them kept portraits up in the attics of Almeria Hall, neither was getting any younger. 

I left the two older men to their own company, tried not to worry, and ushered my siblings around Town. I took them to Carnaby Street and Portabello Road; we saw the crown jewels and the rooms where the young princes were kept in the Tower. 

The evening before Boxing Day we were all seated around the dining room table finishing the sweet, the Siblings, the Papas, Priscilla Danvers, Thom’s fiancée, and St. John Ashford. Ariane flopped back in her chair. “I’m about to bust,” she said with some satisfaction. 

St. John, who I had finally invited to meet the Papas, looked down his nose at her. “Anne, young girls should not use such vulgar terms.” 

“My name is Ariane,” she glowered at him. “And if Drew don’t care what I say, why should you?” 

Andrew,” he corrected pointedly. He sent a frown in my direction, and when I failed to comment, he turned back to my sister. “I am sure your brother would have said something eventually.” 

I grinned at St. John lazily, the wine I had consumed leaving me feeling too mellow to quarrel with him. 

Not Robin, however. He threw a piece of roll at him. “Lighten up, Singe. She’s only thirteen.” The redhead scowled at him, then pointedly looked away. Robin turned to his sister. “Ariane, don’t say ‘bust’, it’s vulgar.” 

She stuck her tongue out at him. “What are we doing tomorrow, *Drew*?” The minx emphasized the diminutive of my name. 

“It will be your last day here before going home to Dorincort Place, brat. What would you like to do?” 

Her eyes lit up. “All my friends have been to Marconi’s House of Oddities. May we go? Please, Drew, please?” 

“Oh, bother, that is such a ridiculous farce!” St. John complained. “Not in the least bit edifying, I assure you!” He realized everyone’s attention was focused on him, and he blushed. For someone with his complexion, he did it very well. I noticed that Robin seemed to appreciate the effect. “Well, I mean, really. A snake boy? It was so obviously someone got up with contact lenses!” 

“You’ve been there, Singe?” Robin asked, intrigued. “Ain’t that beneath your son-of-a-viscount dignity?” 

St. John looked uncomfortable for about two seconds, then tipped his head back and glared at my brother. “What I, as an adult, choose to do is certainly none of your affair, Robert Dorincort!” 

Robin sat forward, leaned an elbow on the table and reached for a walnut in a bowl in the center of the table. He cracked it neatly between his fingers and began to eat the meat. “Adult? Affair?” he gently mocked the younger man. “Now that’s any interesting choice of words for you, Singe.” I kicked him under the table. “Oww! What did you do that for, Drew?’ He followed my glance to our baby sister, and a dull red crept up his cheeks. He was the fairest of all the Siblings, and the flush looked almost painful. “Beg pardon,” he mumbled, and he straightened in his chair. 

“Well, Ariane, what else do they have there, aside from a fake freak?” I asked as I took a walnut myself. 

“He’s not a fake!” She grew belligerent. “He’s not! His eyes have vertical pupils, and he has scales all over his body!” 

“And how would you know that, peanut?” 

 “He’s naked, Drew! Elizabeth, my particular friend at school told me! And she told me they keep him in a big, glass tank with a Real. Live. Snake!” 

“I am sure that was simply an animatronic beast.” St. John sniffed. “You will have nightmares.” 

Ariane opened her mouth, saw the tiny shake I gave my head, and subsided for a moment. The family breathed a sigh of relief, having no doubt that she would have announced that the ‘woof’ would keep the nightmares at bay. Although my brothers no longer needed the protection of the wolf, our little sister still did on occasion. 

She threw a sulky look toward the redhead, then continued. “They have a whole floor with displays from the flicks, too. Please say we may go, Drew!” 

“It is not a good idea,” St. John insisted mulishly. 

The line of  my mouth tightened, and the Papas groaned. “Not a smart thing to say, young Ashford.” Where my family was concerned, no one outside our close-knit group told me what to do. 

“What time will you be ready to go, peanut?” I asked, daring the younger man to challenge me. He had never seen me anything other than easy going, and was somewhat taken aback. 

Ariane bounced in her chair, clapping her hands. 

“Sounds like a good idea, Drew. Count me in,” Robin said, and suddenly everyone was chiming in, declaring their intention to come along. 

“Do you know, it sounds as if you will have such fun that I believe I must come with you!” St. John stated brightly. 

I'd like to make you come,” Robin murmured under his breath, his eyes hot on the other man, forgetting my hearing was exceptional. I gazed at him thoughtfully as the others began to make plans for the next day. Perhaps I wouldn’t have St. John Ashford on my hands too much longer.


Note: #### denotes change of POV. Boxing Day, just as a reminder, is December 26. Ray Harryhausen did the visual effects for both Twenty Million Miles to Earth and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. 

Part 6


Boxing Day was to prove a turning point in all our lives. 

Thom drove round to his fiancée's house to bring her back to have brunch with us. I went to pick up St. John Ashford. He talked the entire drive home. What would it take to shut him up? A cock in his mouth might do it, but I had no desire for it to be mine.  

 It was early afternoon before everyone was ready to leave for Marconi's House of Oddities, a nasty day, spitting sleet, and by the time I found parking for my MG and escorted Ariane and St. John into the dreary building, I was regretting I had let my contrary nature lead me into this situation. 

The Papas had taken one look at the inclement weather and had politely declined to accompany us. I muttered that they would probably spend the afternoon in bed, and Papa had smiled sweetly at Pere, while Pere had leered playfully at him. 

Robin and Alan were already there ahead of us, Alan having ridden with him. Thom had the foresight to bring his own vehicle, no doubt with the intention of slipping away at some point with his pretty fiancée. Once again I pondered the fact that neither her beauty nor St. John's had done anything for me. 

The Siblings waited for me, knowing that as the eldest I would procure the tickets of admission. I laughed at the gambit, but St. John lectured them, particularly Robin, about taking advantage of me. 

The man behind the counter was in his forties, sloppily dressed, wearing worn trousers and a stained shirt. His hair was confined in a horse's tail, and when he opened his mouth to speak, I was overwhelmed by the odor of the beer and garlic sausage he no doubt had for lunch. “The 'Ouse is rather empty today, sir, the miserable weather and the 'oliday, and all.” His eyes seemed to crawl over Alan, but when they landed on Ariane, they became avid. “Whot a pretty little lady! I do 'ope you won’t be frightened, miss. If you are, just give a shout, and Titch will come a-runnin’.” He grinned, and my sister reached for my hand and took a step closer to me. 

“That will not be necessary,” I informed him stiffly. “She has her brothers with her.” 

“Of course, sir." For a moment his expression darkened, but then it was wiped smooth, and he said, in his best Uriah Heap impression, "Just an 'armless little observation, I’m sure.” 

I took my change, and we went into the first hall. 

St. John proved surprisingly knowledgeable of the flicks that were represented, going into detail about the Ymir, comparing it to Ray Harryhausen’s later stop-motion work with a Cyclops from one of the Sinbad movies. 

We actually had the entire place to ourselves, and wandered from floor to floor, examining the exhibits with varying degrees of interest. Alan was particularly fascinated by a diorama that contained a mannequin representing the cave people of One Million Years B.C. The bounteous model was clad in a skimpy fur bikini. He grew rather flushed, and I knew if I dropped my gaze, his trousers would be tented. I angled myself to conceal his reaction until he was ready to move on. 

Ariane grew restless. “Where is the snake boy? He is what I truly wanted to see!” 

We found the corridor that led to his display, but it was cordoned off, a small placard saying, ‘Closed until further notice.’ 

“Well, we’ve seen everything, I believe. Are we ready to go?” 

“I’d just like to freshen up a bit, if we’ll be leaving,” Cilla murmured. “Ariane, would you care to come along with me?” 

“Oh, yes, please!” Ariane was overjoyed at being invited to partake in the female ritual of trooping off to the loo. “I think I saw one on the floor below.” 

“We’ll just wait for you by the exit, then, shall we?” 


They weren't happy with me. The men employed by Callisto Marconi to run his House of Oddities weren't the sharpest tools in the shed, and they'd screwed up royally. Titch, who usually took care of the feeding of the livestock in this place, had taken an extended vacation, leaving Simmons to handle it. 

Henry Simmons was the man who stood out front. He accepted the paying customers' money and handed out the attractive brochures that gave no hint to the conditions behind the scenes. Through careless handling the number of live exhibits had dwindled to just me, and on occasion, Chloe, the bad-tempered Burmese python. A little she-wolf who was also on the premises was being kept under wraps. Because it was against the law to keep a predator in the city, if the authorities ever learned about her, Marconi risked losing his permits to operate this place. 

Simmons had no idea about the amount of drugs that were supposed to be put in my food, and fortunately for me, they grew less and less until I was totally free of the sedatives that had kept me controllable. 

When Titch finally returned, it took another few days before he realized what the situation was. He darted me, and the two of them carried me down to the holding tanks in the basement. He thought it was amusing to throw me in with Chloe. Fortunately, I had a way with reptiles.  

She was too large for that tank, and her living conditions made her even more irritable, but there was nothing either of us could do about it. I had every intention of getting us out of there, however, and I bided my time, refusing to eat the doctored food that Titch tossed through the small hinged door in the wall. I hid it away behind the plastic pool that was supposed to provide the python with enough water for her to coil up and submerge in, but the water hadn't been changed in days. 

"Dinner, my pets!" he snarled, emptying a sack through a small door in the glass. "Goddamn Simmons' soul. I wanted to watch that little girl, and 'e sends me to feed you lot. 'Ow's about a little ratatouille?"  Chloe raised herself swiftly until she was at eye level with him, and he jerked back in startled fright. It took him several minutes to stop trembling and recover from his apprehension. His lip curled in a sneer, and he smacked the glass. Chloe sank back down and wound her coils around the rat, quickly constricting it. Titch had given her a live one this time, and I watched carefully to make sure she wasn't bitten. Such a bite could have resulted in serious injury, or even her death. He turned a little green as she began to swallow the rodent head first. 

Furious that his discomfort had been observed, Titch banged on the cage next to us, startling the little she-wolf who was kept there, tossing a chunk of organ meat to her and watching as she gobbled the drugged food. I'd tried to persuade her not to eat it, but she was too hungry. "I like little girls. Maybe I'll shag this little bitch when the drug's taken effect!" Titch left, laughing uproariously. 

I clenched my hands into fists. My claws were regenerating slowly, due of the poor quality of the food I'd been fed and the drugs in it, but they were still razor sharp. If I could just get my hands on one of them… 

Thoughtfully I considered the rock that was in Chloe's sleeping quarters. It looked as if it had been there for years, and I wondered if Marconi had it placed there when he had first obtained the python. If he'd gotten her as a juvenile, this tank would have been more than adequate for her, but she was almost twenty feet long now, and not in good health. She was suffering from infectious stomatitis, commonly known as mouth rot, and respiratory distress. She wouldn't be able to recover without medication. 

 If I could break the glass of this tank by the small access hatch, which had to be the weakest point, perhaps I'd be able to find some clothes. Once we were out of this place, I'd need to locate a veterinarian who could treat her. Even then I wasn't sure she would survive. 

The opening to her sleeping quarters was very narrow, but I was able to wriggle my way through it. On the other side of the wire mesh that separated this tank from the cage, the little she-wolf watched with shamed eyes. Next to her was the regurgitated meat. She had eaten it so rapidly that she hadn't been able to keep it down. "That's okay, precious." I slid a finger through the wire and rubbed the spot beneath her chin. "Just don't try eating that again." I retrieved the rock and went back into the front of the tank, then settled down to wait for the lights to go off, signaling the departure of those two bastards for the day. 


The temperature in the basement had dropped enough to become a little uncomfortable. I curled up beside Chloe and began to vibrate, the sub-dermal muscles rippling and producing a measure of heat. If I hadn't been afraid that the python might view the little she-wolf as dinner, I would have found a way to bring her into the tank with us. 

The door to this room opened and I sat up cautiously, uncertain who was coming in. It was a young girl, dressed in an ankle-length coat with white fur at the collar and cuffs. A matching muff hung from her wrist, swinging gently as she tiptoed into the room. 

Her eyes grew enormous as she saw me staring at her. "Oooh! Are you the snake boy? I sneaked away to find you!" 

Before I could warn her that it was dangerous to be down here alone, Titch eased in. 

"What 'ave we 'ere?" he asked in a smarmy tone, advancing as she retreated further into the room. "If it ain't the little miss. I like little misses." 

Simmons followed him in and locked the door behind him. "Titch, this ain't smart. She's got family here!" 

"Shut your gob, Simmons." He grabbed the girl, slapped his hand over her mouth and began dragging her toward an outside door. "By the time they realize she's gone, I'll be out of 'ere, and they won't 'ave any idea where I'll've taken ‘er. I was planning on leaving Marconi, anyway." 

Suddenly he cursed. She had sunk her teeth into his hand, and as he jerked it away, blood droplets spattered over the floor. The girl screamed. 

I picked up the rock and hurled it toward the glass partition, which shattered, sending shards of broken glass onto the floor. Simmons fumbled in his pocket for a gun. I bounded forward and slammed the heel of my hand against his chin. He staggered backward and fell, dropping the gun. Chloe slithered out of the tank, moving rapidly toward Titch, sensing his fear. Titch flung the girl aside and backed away, screaming, "No! Get away from me! Get away from me, I tell you! Simmons, 'elp me!” 

The girl had hit her head and moaned. I was crouched over her, trying to make sure she was all right when the door burst open, hanging from the lock as the destroyed hinges gave way. 

There was a sound like an animal's growl, and then something barreled into me. Long-fingered hands wrapped themselves around my throat, cutting off my oxygen supply. I would have to do something fast, or I was going to die. 

I applied some moves my Brachian father had taught me and rolled free of him, sending him hard against the wall. Chloe was just coiling in on herself, preparatory to launching an attack on Simmons, who had found his gun and gotten to his feet. The gun wavered wildly in his trembling hand. "No! No! Chloe, no!" I cried in a desperate attempt to stop her, but I was too late. Simmons fired, and the python's big, yellow body dropped to the concrete floor. 

Simmons turned a pasty white when he saw the dispassion with which I regarded him. The hammer clicked uselessly on the firing pan as the gun misfired, and he backed away from me, still trying to get the gun to fire. I clenched my right fist and stubby claws emerged. He was unable to tear his eyes away from the opaque claws, and he whimpered in abject fear. The whimpers rose to screams as I drove them into him, feeling the drag as I forced them up, slicing as deeply as possible through skin and muscle. 

Then I reached into his chest and ripped his beating heart out, and stuffed it into his mouth, stopping his screams. 


St. John was casting silent daggers at Robin. My younger brother had been sniping at him for the past quarter hour, and I was tempted to ask Robin to go on home instead of joining us at The Grenadier off Belgrave Square, where I'd intended to treat everyone to tea. 

Cilla finally came down the stairs, fluffing her hair and smiling at Thom. 

“Where is Ariane?” I asked, not too happy we’d have to wait longer. 

“She isn’t with you? She told me she was going on ahead and left a few minutes before I did.” 

Ariane was a trifle headstrong and had a tendency to do as she pleased. We often teased her that her husband would need a strong hand to keep her in line. She would just turn up her pert nose and walk away from us with a haughty air. 

It shouldn't have been a big deal that she had wandered off. This time, however, I was getting strange, disturbing vibrations. A hollow feeling settled in my gut, and I could see it was shared by Robin. “Drew?” 

Before I could send them searching for their sister, a shrill scream filtered up from the floor below. “Wolf!” I bolted for the stairs and pounded down them, the rest of our party right behind me. 

From behind the locked door we heard a strange, slithering sound, like dry leaves blowing over a walkway, and then masculine shouts. “No! Get away from me! Get away from me, I tell you! Simmons, 'elp me!” And then there was a garbled, choking sound.

Our combined weight proved too much for the flimsy hinges of the door, and it crashed open. 

Crouched over my sister was a naked man. With a howl of fury I hurled myself at him, hitting him and knocking him away from Ariane, rolling both of us over onto the concrete floor. I was on top, and I got my hands around his throat and began to squeeze. 

Growls spilled from my mouth. I maintained enough control not to change into the wolf that lurked beneath the surface, but I saw nothing beyond the red haze that enveloped my vision. Ariane screamed again, and there was a loud hissing. The man under me slid his arms through mine, and the heel of his hand jammed my chin up, snapping my head back. With one smooth, sinuous motion, he curled his legs in on himself and swung them around, catching me in the side and throwing me away from him. My head slammed into a wall, and I lay there for a moment, stunned. 

An unfamiliar voice was shouting hoarsely, “No! No! Chloe, no!” A gun was fired, sounding like the crack of doom in the enclosed space. Something fell to the floor with a heavy, sodden thud. 

The silence seemed to echo in that room, and then the screams started. Escalated. Abruptly ceased. They seemed to last for an eternity, but it really couldn’t have been more than sixty seconds. 

Robin grabbed up Ariane and whirled her around so she couldn’t see. He shoved her into Alan’s arms and pushed them both toward the door. “Get her out of here! Thom…” 

“Right-o, Robin. I’ll get them home!” He hurried them back the way we had come. 

“St. John, you’d better go too…” 

“I am not leaving, Robin.” His lips quivered in a parody of a smile, and his face was ashen, but he was desperately holding himself together. “You will need a hand to… a hand to…” He shuddered and looked into my brother's eyes. "I am not leaving," he repeated. 

Robin gripped his arm in silent gratitude before turning to help me to my feet. “Are you all right, Drew?” 

“I think so.” I staggered and almost went down again, but managed to steady myself. I gave my head a shake to clear it, then brought my fingers up to probe the sore spot. There was a fair-sized goose egg just behind my right ear, but I wasn’t seeing double, my stomach wasn’t pitching a fit, and I felt it safe to assume I wasn’t concussed. “Bugger.” 

I glanced around in growing horror. This was a room that hadn’t been opened to the public, and it was squalid in the extreme. Streaked glass partitions and wire mesh seemed to divide it into a number of holding pens, tanks and cages. They were all approximately the same size, about two meters by three. The glass of one tank had been broken, and I spotted the large rock that must have been used to accomplish that feat. In the confined area was a plastic kiddie pool filled with scummy water. A rotting tree branch was propped against a corner and the corpses of several rats littered the dirty floor. In the back of the enclosure was a shadowed opening. 

A few feet away was the body of the man, Titch, his face twisted in a rictus of terror. Beyond him was another man I didn’t recognize. His shirt was shredded, and four parallel gouges were deeply scored  in his chest. On the left side was a gaping wound, almost as if someone had reached in and ripped his heart out. Blood was smeared thickly over his mouth, and I didn't want to look too closely at the cause. The stench of death filled the air. 

“I rather think you attacked the wrong person, Andrew.” Robin cupped his hand over his nose and mouth to filter out the foul odor. He made sure he positioned himself between St. John and the naked man, who knelt over the remains of a very large yellow snake, his arms encircling it. The snake’s head had been blown off. 

“What was Ariane doing down here?” I demanded, trying to breathe shallowly. 

“She came looking for me,” the young man cradling the snake’s carcass croaked in a rusty voice. "She wanted to see the snake boy. Titch and Simmons found her. Titch had a taste for young girls. He told Simmons he’d take her out through the delivery door. His hand was over her mouth to keep her quiet. Somehow she managed to bite him, and her scream alerted you, I assume. I broke the glass of the tank, and we got out. Chloe took care of Titch. Simmons had a gun. I knocked him down, and he dropped it, but he got it while I was trying to make sure your sister was all right.” 

“Bloody, fucking hell!” I watched as the man I had been strangling stroked the side of the snake, murmured something that sounded vaguely familiar, and then carefully laid it down. He rose stiffly. His smooth, hairless chest was dotted with blood spatter. Involuntarily, I tracked a droplet down his body, staring at the sheath that encased his cock snug against his groin. As if feeling the caress of my gaze, his golden eyes, eyes with vertical pupils, widened in shocked dismay. 

He whirled around, holding himself tensely. The view from the back was just as intriguing. Patterns of scales covered him from his shoulders to the curve of his arse. I was amazed by the life-like quality of the make-up that had been applied to his body, and wondered that it hadn't smeared. 

I moistened my lips. I wanted to tangle my hands in the thick, black hair, that concealed the nape of his neck, lift it out of the way and press openmouthed kisses over it. What was happening to me? I hadn’t been this aroused in years! I tried to convince my body it was caused by the adrenaline that had surged through it. “Is this your snake boy, St. John?” I asked in another attempt to distract myself. 

He nodded, his mouth working as he struggled to keep from spewing the brunch he had eaten with us all over his shoes. His gaze kept flinching away from the bodies on the floor. 

“Robin, take him home, will you?” 

My brother was watching me with interest. He put a hand on the other man's upper arm and urged him out of the room. He threw me a glance over his shoulder. “Drew?” 

“I’ll handle this, Robin. Go.” 

They left through the door, which swung crazily on the lock that was all that kept it upright, leaving the two of us with the dead men and the decapitated snake. The naked young man leaned heavily against an unbroken portion of glass, his shoulders slumped, his head bowed, shivers rippling his skin. I shivered myself, just then noticing the chill, and looked around. “You can’t stand here like that. Where are your clothes?” 

“I don’t know.” Again I noted the rusty quality of his voice, as if he hadn't spoken in a long time. “They took them away from me when I was brought here.” He saw my expression and laughed bitterly. “You thought I did this for a living? Oh, yes. ‘What do you want to be when you grow up, little boy?’ ‘I want to be a freak in a sideshow. I want to be kept naked and drugged and have people gape at me.’” 

What had been going on in this place? I took my jacket off and handed it to him, when what I wanted to do was put it around his shoulders myself. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I choked you, and I’m sorry your snake is dead. Look, we have to get out of here before I call the police.” 

“You’re not going to leave me here?” He expected to be abandoned? It occurred to me that while he wasn't as old as I had first thought, perhaps not much older than Thom, he didn't have Thom's certainty of his place in this world. 

“No. This place is starting to resemble a mortuary.” He stared at me blankly. “Sorry. Poor attempt to lighten the atmosphere. Come along, there has to be something around here you can wear. I’m Drew Dorincort, by the by.” He followed me out of the room, saying nothing. “Look, are you going to tell me your name? Or do you prefer being called Snake Boy?” I looked back in time to see his gaze appeared to be fixed on my arse. Wishful thinking, I hastened to assure myself. 

“My name is Da’ric.” 

“You’re not British.” There were a few other doors in the basement, behind which were things best not examined too closely, and we finally found one that opened into what appeared to be a changing room, lined with metal lockers. 

“No.” It was like pulling teeth. "I carry American citizenship.” 

“That’s an odd way of putting it.” It became obvious he wasn’t going to respond to that either. “Very well. Do you intend to tell me how you got yourself into a jam like this?” 

He shrugged. “The man who snatched me wanted me out of the country. He sold me to a friend of his who brought me here. You see what I look like. They thought I’d bring in more business.” 

“You were kidnapped? Couldn’t you ask for help?” His look questioned the level of my intelligence. “Oh, right, you were drugged.” We scrounged up some trousers, a flannel shirt, a pair of shoes with the soles wearing thin, enough articles of clothing to get him out of the building and to my car without freezing his arse off. He dropped the trousers and bent over to retrieve them, and I stood staring at his arse, ashamed, after the events of the afternoon, that I wanted to bury myself balls’ deep in it. 

“Why weren’t you on display today?” 

“I haven't been for a while. They screwed up.” One at a time he got his legs into the trousers and fumbled with the fly. “Titch thought Simmons was putting the drug in my food. Simmons thought Titch was. When they realized how badly they’d fucked it up, that I’d actually be able to plead for assistance from anyone who came into the habitat, they sedated me and dragged me down here.” 

“How long ago?” 

He shrugged. “I kind of lost track of time.” He seemed to be having trouble buttoning the shirt. I stepped close to him, brushed his hands away, and took over the task. As I slid the buttons into the button holes, the backs of my fingers came into contact with his skin. I found myself taking my time, and he stood there docilely. “A week? Ten days? I don’t know. They figured if they starved me, eventually I’d get hungry enough to eat.” The sound he made was a sardonic one. “Even Chloe wouldn’t touch the food, and they kept her hungry enough that she couldn’t be too choosy.” 

Those rats? Were the drugs in those rats? I felt sick. “Why not inject the drug into you?” 

“Would have left tracks on my arms. You can’t have a snake boy with a drug problem, it takes away from the illusion.” He sat down and struggled to get the shoes on his feet. I saw his toes, and my mouth went dry with the desire to suck one into my mouth and probe the webbing between them with my tongue. 

He stood up, flinching a little from the pressure the too-tight shoes put on his toes. “We can’t leave yet.” 

“Why not?” Abruptly I looked around. “What was that?” I would have sworn I heard someone calling to me. 

Da'ric ignored me, spotting a tool box that had been left in a corner. He rummaged in it for a minute. "Ah! This should do it!" He held up a pair of wire cutters. “I have to go back and get the wolf. She comes with me!” 

That forlorn, little voice. Was that the wolf?   

Da' limped back into the first room, ignoring the bodies on the floor. He cut an opening in the wire mesh of one of the cages and eased his way past it, went down onto his belly, and crawled through the opening in the back wall. I could hear him speaking softly, lovingly, and his tone made me hard. I wanted it directed at me. “Come on, precious. It’s all right. Da"s here now. That’s it, baby. We’re leaving this place and never coming back. The… the nice man is going to take us away from here. That’s the good girl. Come along now.” He wriggled out, legs, ass, shoulders, head, and when he straightened, he was holding a bundle of fur that threatened to spill out of his arms. She was licking his face frantically. “Okay," he turned to me, "let’s haul ass!” 

I shrugged into my jacket and went on ahead of them, making sure no one would challenge us. Outside, the sky had darkened ominously, and a few stray snowflakes were drifting down to land on the bonnet of my car. I  opened the passenger door of the MG and held the little she-wolf while Da’ric folded himself into the front seat. I repeated his name in my mind, savoring the taste of it, then leaned down to give her back to him. She looked into my eyes, whined, and swiped her tongue across my cheek. 

Bugger! She was one of us! 


Note: Face like a slapped arse is Brit slang, which can be found at this address: It means miserable looking. 

Part 7


The little she-wolf wasn’t in the front part of her cage. I cut the wire mesh and went in. This cage wasn’t quite as filthy as Chloe’s tank, but then they had plans for the little wolf. I stuck my head and shoulders through the opening and spotted her huddling in a corner. She was trembling, from the effects of the drug that had managed to enter her system before she’d regurgitated the meat, and from the sounds that had assaulted her sensitive ears while the trash was being dealt with. I’d have to go in and get her. 

I began talking in a soft, crooning voice. “Come on, precious. It’s all right. Da"s here now. That’s it, baby. We’re leaving this place and never coming back. The…” I thought of the dark-haired man who had burst into that room to save his sister. I thought of the way his eyes had felt on my body, and how my body had reacted. If I hadn’t turned when I had, he would have seen how aroused his scrutiny made me. My cock had been sliding out of its sheath, and I’d been stunned to realize that in the midst of the carnage, I was getting turned on by him.  “… the nice man is going to get us away from here. That’s the good girl. Come along now.” I backed out and rose with her in my arms. “Okay," I said to the man who was watched me with fathomless eyes, "let’s haul ass!” 

He led the way to his little sports car. I’d seen something like it once, driving down Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, but that one was nowhere near as dashing as this one, with its midnight blue finish, and dazzling mahogany and chrome accessories. 

It was starting to snow. I'd never come into contact with the white stuff before, and I shivered as he opened the door. He took the little wolf from me until I could get myself into the car. I reached for her blindly, unable to tear my eyes off him as he put her back in my arms. 

She licked his cheek, and he stared at her, stunned. It was almost as if he… recognized her? No, that was impossible. 

The cold knifed through the ratty shirt I wore, and I couldn't suppress a massive shudder. He stood and stripped off his jacket. After he tucked it around my shoulders, he slammed the door shut, hurrying around to the driver's side. It was so strange, watching him get in what would be the passenger side in the States. He put the key in the ignition and turned on the heater, but didn't wait for the small vehicle to warm up before reaching for the stick shift to put it in gear. He wasn’t watching, and his hand fumbled on my knee. I liked the warmth of his fingers there, but he yanked it away and threw the car into first. It was a good thing the street was fairly deserted, because it seemed as if he was determined to break every speeding violation on the London books. 

I watched dumbly as the snow began to fall harder, and the shops and houses flashed past in a veiled blur. The little wolf whined and wriggled, trying to get closer to the driver. "No, precious," I murmured, rubbing her ears. "You'll distract him.” A stray thought ambushed me. I wanted to distract him. “I haven't survived all that crap to die in a car wreck!" She glanced over her shoulder, her expression reproachful, but she settled down on my lap, her head on her paws, and contented herself with watching him. 

He braked to a sharp stop in front of a quietly elegant townhouse and hustled us inside. Even though it wasn’t very many steps, by the time we got into the house, snowflakes were clinging to our hair and eyelashes. I was unable to control my shivers by this point, and clutched the little wolf to me, hoping to share some of her warmth. She whined in protest. 

I was close on his heels as he entered the hallway of his house, and I came to a dead halt. Too many people, there were too many people. This was too much like being in that tank, being stared at and pointed at and not being able to escape. I began backing away. 

“Thank god!” An older man with white blond hair and a patch over his eye grabbed Drew and hugged him fiercely. “Oh, thank god!” 

“Pere, what are you doing out of bed? And dressed to go out in this weather?” 

“We were about to come looking for you! It's just come over the telly that Marconi's House of Oddities is ablaze. The footage is horrifying. Word is nothing can be saved!" The man Drew called Pere took a deep breath and released him, and removed his coat. Another old gentleman took it from him and hung it up, then removed his own coat. 

“Robin!” Drew sounded irritated. 

A young, fair-haired man I vaguely remembered as also being in that cellar room grinned wryly. “I know he shouldn’t have gotten up, Drew. When you find a way to make the hard-headed old so and so mind you, pass the secret on to me!” 

"Hullo, who’s this?” the man called Pere asked, his faded tourmaline eye running over me. 

My hand went to my face and froze as I realized I no longer had the shaded lenses that concealed my eyes. I dropped it to my side, turned my head away, and waited tensely to see their reaction to me. 

“It’s the snake boy!” The young girl who had come looking for me in the basement of the House of Oddities started to run toward me. “Drew, you’ve brought home the snake boy!” 

I continued backing away. The door wasn’t too far behind me. If I could reach it, I could… 

“Da’.” I tore my gaze from the mob in front of me to the man who placed himself between us. “It’s all right.” His hands were on my arms, and I relaxed into his hold. “I promise you, it’s all right.” 


By the time we arrived back at my townhouse the heater in the MG was finally cranking out some decent warmth, but even with my jacket around him, Da’ric was shivering so hard I thought his bones would fracture. I took the wolf from him and set her down. She trotted docilely at our heels as I hurried him into the house.  We came to a startled halt at the crowd that greeted our eyes, and she put herself behind me, peeking cautiously around my legs. 

The Papas were in the front hall, bundling up to go out into the storm. Flanking them were the Siblings, including Ariane, also dressed to go out, and Priscilla Danvers and St. John Ashford. 

“Thank god!” Pere exclaimed as he dragged me against him. In spite of his age, my ribs were in danger of bruising from the strength of his hug. 

“Pere, what are you doing out of bed? And dressed to go out in this weather?” He was just recuperating. He should never have come downstairs, let alone be on his way out into that storm. 

“We were about to come looking for you! It's just come over the telly that Marconi's House of Oddities is ablaze. The footage is horrifying. Word is nothing can be saved!"  Pere took off his coat, trying to appear casual about it. Papa took it from him and hung it in the hall cupboard. 

“Robin!” Why hadn’t he stopped Pere from getting out of bed? 

“I know he shouldn’t have gotten up, Drew. When you find a way to make the hard-headed old so and so mind you, pass the secret on to me!” 

Pere pretended he didn’t hear us. He studied my companion with his good eye. "Hullo, who’s this?” 

“It’s the snake boy!” Ariane cried excitedly. “Drew, you’ve brought home the snake boy!” 

He was backing toward the door, and I had no doubt that storm or no storm, if I didn’t prevent him, he would bolt out into it. “Da’,” I said softly. “It’s all right. I promise you, it’s all right.” He was still shivering, and I slid an arm around him, pulling him close to me. “That will do, Ariane,” I frowned at my sister. “This is Da’ric. He is our guest.” 

She blushed. “I beg your pardon.” She stepped closer to him and extended her hand. “Thank you. Thank you for saving me from that dreadful man.” 

Da’ stared at her and swallowed hard, leaning into my side. I wondered if he realized he had shifted even closer to me. He took her hand tentatively. “You were doing quite a good job on your own,” he said softly in his rusty voice. “If he had survived, Titch would have borne the scars for the rest of his life.” 

Ariane’s eyes grew cold. “I’m sorry your snake died, but I’m glad she killed  him.” 

“Drew, what went on after we left?” Robin demanded, jabbing me in the ribs, his gaze straying from the young man to the young wolf. 

Papa had also been observing the two. “Explanations can wait, I think. You need to be fed. I am Roddy Sayer, young man, and this is Thomas Fortescue-Smythe. You’re not likely to remember any other names, so I’ll introduce the rest of them after you’ve eaten. If you’ll come into the kitchen, I’ll see what we have available.” 

“How do you do, sir?” He tried to clear his throat. “I am a little thin in the skin, but if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, would it be all right if I had a shower first? It’s been a long time since I’ve felt clean.” 

The image of him naked in the bath flashed through my mind, and my cock swelled. I knew he could feel me nudging his hip. “Sorry,” I whispered, and stepped away. He looked into my eyes, and I suddenly realized he was actually a few inches taller than I. His fingers tightened on my sleeve, then opened, and he dropped it. 

“No imposition at all, young man,” Papa told him. “Come along. I’ll show you where the bath is, and then see if I can find some decent clothing for you as well.”  Da’ric removed my jacket and held it toward me. I took it, my fingers registering how little warmth he had left behind. “Robin,” Papa called over his shoulder. “See about getting dinner started, please.” They disappeared up the stairs. 

Robin turned to cock an eyebrow at the Siblings and guests. “All right, you lot! Kitchen duty! Alan, see if you can get the little wolf to abandon her hiding spot?” 

“Surely you do not intend to bring her into the kitchen! Filthy, disgusting animal! She probably has fleas as well!” St. John asserted prudishly. “Andrew, I want to go home!” 

It was hard to believe this was the same person who had stood firm in that dank cellar. I shrugged. “The storm has gotten too bad, St. John.” 

“If you will not take me home…” He seemed to be winding himself into a temper. 

“Put a cork in it, Singe. Drew said it’s too nasty out there, and you already called Your Father the Viscount to let him know his baby boy was safe and sound.” Robin scowled at the younger man, and I heard him whisper under his breath, “Don’t make me want to wallop you more than I already do!” 

His lush mouth in a moue, St. John complained, “That beast is a wild animal! If it bites me…” 

“It’s a she, St. John,” Alan growled, “and if you don’t shut up, I’ll bite you!” My youngest brother went down on one knee and spoke softly to the wolf. “Come along, little one.” Almost flirtatiously, she approached him, and he stroked her carefully. “Her coat’s a mess, Drew! I’ll get her cleaned up first, shall I? We don’t want to stress her stomach any more than necessary.” 

“Good idea, Alan. Off you go, then.” I watched as he rose to his feet, the little wolf rubbing her head trustingly against his knee, then following him to the kitchen. 

I ran a hand over my hair, surprised to find it damp from the snowflakes. “Do we have enough beds?” I mused, trying to settle the logistics. “Cilla can stay with Ariane. I want Da’ric in my room.” Robin made a rude sound. “To keep an eye on him.” From the look in his eye, I didn’t think Robin was buying that excuse. We exchanged grins. 

“What about me?” St. John demanded petulantly, having missed the by-play. “*I* should be the one in your room!” 

“You can sleep on the daybed in the room Thom and Alan share, Singe,” Robin said. “Or you can sleep in my room.” 

A gamut of expressions crossed the younger man’s face; shock, desire, and then hurt. They were abruptly replaced with by an unusual glower. He hunched his shoulder and turned his back on my brother. Robin saw me observing their interaction. A tide of color swept up his cheeks. 

“We’ll just pop on upstairs and make sure there are fresh sheets on all the beds,” Thom said, smiling at his fiancée. She blushed and took his hand, and I had no doubt that Thom would steal a kiss as soon as they were out of sight. 

Robin crooked his finger at St. John Ashford. I wondered idly if Robin would consider kissing the sulky line from the younger man’s mouth. 

That brought me to thoughts of Da’ric’s mouth. I hadn’t realized I’d noticed so much about it, the full curve of his upper lip, the firm support of the lower one. I wanted to run my thumb over the smooth flesh. I wondered what he kissed like. I wondered if I’d find out. 

Setting that tantalizing fantasy aside for the moment, I turned to pick up the phone. I rang a friend of mine with whom I had gone to school, and who worked at the Yard. “Jack. It’s Drew Dorincort. Fine, thanks, and you? Good to hear that. Listen, I’m sorry to disturb you today, but I need a favor. Are you familiar with Marconi’s House of Oddities? Yes, that’s the one. I understand there may have been some shady dealings going on there. Drugs, exotic animals probably brought in illegally, I don’t know what all else. It would be grand if you could look into it. Oh, and Jack? Have them keep an eye out for a couple of bodies. I think the fire may have been set to conceal them. Right. Ta, Jack.” I rang off. 

Pere had been listening in silence. “Drew, I’d like to speak to you. In your study, if you don’t mind?” 

I nodded and followed him into the light-paneled room. Pere frowned at the sight of the books I kept for the Almeria Hall stud, which were scattered over my desk. I’d worked on them earlier, and most likely would be working on them again later in the evening. 

That wasn’t what he wanted to talk to me about. “Drew, what happened? Ariane was going on about bad men and a yellow snake and…” 

“We got to her before that bastard could hurt her, but between her and our guest, the bleeding buggers didn’t seem to stand a chance! The one who grabbed her had his hand mangled pretty badly before the snake wrapped her coils around him. The other one… Pere, Da’ killed him. I don’t know how. I didn’t see any knives lying around, but then again, I wasn’t really looking for any.” 

My grandfather looked concerned. “Who is this young man, Drew? What was he doing in such a place?” 

“I don’t know the whole story, Pere. Apparently he was kidnapped and drugged and kept as an exhibit in that place. He told me that much back in the House of Oddities. If I ever get my hands on Marconi… You didn’t see what they did to him, how they marked his body! All to make him look like a reptile! What a sodding bastard to do that to Da’! I don’t even want to think of what else they may have done to him!” 

He shook his head. “Poor boy!” 

I gazed at an oil of Papa’s Arabians, George and Hubini, but I wasn’t really seeing them. “I don’t want the police to know about what happened there today, Pere.” 

“Of course, my boy. We’ll keep this strictly in the family.” Something was bothering him. He worried his lip, and I was afraid he had qualms about the young man upstairs. However, when he spoke it was about something else entirely. “I think I may need to speak with your father about Ariane. When she began telling us the story, she started to change. I was able to distract her, and I don’t think she realized what was happening, but we’ll need to keep an eye on her.” 

“Bloody hell! She’s never done that before!” I was shocked stupid, and ran my hands through my hair. “There’s no full moon, either! This is proving to be a Boxing Day the likes of which we’ve never experienced before!” 

He closed his hand on my arm and gave it a shake. “She is your father’s responsibility, Drew. Let him deal with it. Don’t take all the problems of this family on your shoulders!” Pere squeezed my arm comfortingly, then changed the subject. “Da’ric. That’s an unusual name. I don’t believe it’s British?” 

“He said something about carrying American citizenship.” 

“A Yank, then.” He nodded as if that explained it all. “I wonder if he’s the settling down kind?” 

“Excuse me?” Where had that come from? 

“He stayed very close to you. Do you know what I found extremely interesting, Drew? You allowed… no encouraged that! I’ve never known you to permit anyone not family to encroach on your personal space!”

I’d felt Da’ric’s unusual eyes on me, and I’d liked that, although when I’d glanced at him he had been looking down. He’d leaned against me, too, crowded against me in fact, and I’d liked that even more. 

“Pere…” Suddenly I found myself telling him some of what had happened that afternoon. “I was straddling him! In that horrible cellar room when I thought he was the one trying to hurt Ariane. I had my hands around his throat.” I swallowed hard, remembering now the smoothness of his skin under my hands, his lean-muscled body between my thighs. “I know nothing about him, but I want him!” 

“The very first time I saw Papa, I knew absolutely nothing about him, beyond the fact that he looked delicious wringing wet.” Pere’s one good eye grew hot with the memories. We had grown up hearing of their exploits during the Great War. 

“And I was totally oblivious.” Papa walked in and went to the man who had been his lover for so many years. He pulled Pere back against him. “Da’ric is showering in your room, Drew. I laid out some of your warmer clothes on the bed. Poor boy just can’t seem to shake the chill. Do you know, he has the strangest markings on his body? I noticed when he removed that shirt he was wearing.” Papa turned to face Pere. “He had to borrow the clothes.” As if that explained it all. 

Pere raised an eyebrow. “I assume you’ll be burning them, Roddy?” 

“Of course.” 

It was a private moment, and I had to look away. Papa had told me, because I was the eldest and least likely to be frightened by the tale, of  the night he had gone to rescue Pere from the strange Egyptian who had rented Talbot Abbey. They’d been stripped, and although Papa had never told me why, I had a fairly accurate notion of the reason. When they had escaped, they’d had to pinch clothing to cover their nakedness, and once safely back at Fortescue Manor, Papa had had the clothes burned. 

They’d had such adventures, such wonderful memories. And they had each other. 

My grandfathers had been growing concerned and had mentioned lately that they’d like nothing better than to see me find someone. 

As I left the two in my study, I realized that I was lonely, and had been for a long time. I wanted what they had. I thought of the young man who was taking a shower in my bath and suddenly wondered if I had found him. 


The Siblings bustled around the kitchen, busy with various tasks. Cilla chatted with Thom while he waited for the tea to brew, her lips bee-stung from his kisses. 

Robin was frying some rashers of bacon, his eyes on St. John Ashford as the younger man set plates and silverware on the large butcher-block table. St. John was stubbornly refusing to acknowledge him. 

Ariane was absently watching the toaster burn some bread. I pushed the lever up and the bread popped out, charred. “Try again, peanut.” I dropped a kiss on her hair, and she grinned cheekily at me. 

“Drew,” Alan was desultorily scrambling eggs. “There’s something about this wolf, and I don’t think it’s merely her odd coloring.” 

“You sensed it too?” I glanced at the wolf as she lay curled up beside the big cook stove, drying. Now that she was clean, her coloring was more obvious. She was an unusual pale brown, almost a beige, and the odds of her surviving in the wild weren’t likely to be too good. She raised her head and stared back into my eyes, then lowered it, crawled to me on her belly and rolled over, exposing her throat and soft underside. 

“Obviously she knows you’re the alpha of this pack, Drew.” His voice was barely a whisper, but I had no trouble hearing it. 

I squatted beside her, burying my hands in her soft, silky fur. It clung to my fingers as I gently stroked her side. I frowned. “Bastards! They must have been starving her! I can count her ribs!” 

Alan scraped the eggs onto a plate and set it aside to cool. “Yes. This is for her.” He set about scrambling more eggs. “Drew…” 

I rose and went to get the plate, and rested my hand on his shoulder. “Later,” I said in an undertone. This was not the time to discuss this sudden turn of events. “We have guests.” I set the plate before the hungry animal, and she began to gobble it down. “Take it easy, little one.” I fondled her ears. “It won’t do if you bring this right back up.” She whined softly, but slowed her intake. “Robin, is any of the bacon ready for Bree?” 

“Bree?” Cilla and St. John both regarded me curiously. The Siblings became busy with their tasks. 

I gave a crooked grin and gestured toward the wolf. “Her name is Bryanna.” They assumed that I had named the little animal. 

“It means fortitude,” Robin said as he joined me with some strips of bacon. He crumbled them onto the eggs. “Bugger,” he remarked morosely, his eyes on St. John, who had walked to the back door and was gazing out of the pane of glass. 

“You’ve got a face like a slapped arse, Robin. Something going on there that I should be aware of?” He looked up at me, and I felt a jolt of apprehension. “Robin?” I pressed. He was closest to me in age, and while I loved all my siblings equally, I loved Robin more. “Alan, I need to speak with Robin about something. Keep an eye on Bryanna; make sure she has some milk, all right?” 

Our youngest brother nodded eagerly, and as we left the kitchen he hurried to find a bowl and pour some milk for the little wolf. St. John was saying, “Lactic products are not good for canines.” Alan ignored him. 

In the hallway, Robin sighed. “I’m sorry, Drew. It looks like I’ve mucked this up royally. Coming home, Singe started acting like his old self. I just got so fed up with his snooty attitude; I pulled over to the side of the road. And just to shut him up I… er… I kissed him.” 

“Did he kiss you back, or was this all one-sided?” 

“He kissed me back. That mouth of his, Drew! When he’s not spouting arrant nonsense, he’s got the most… Uh… sorry, I’m sure you know. Anyway, I… I lost my head. I was hard enough to pound nails, and I put his hand on my crotch.” 

“And?” I had never gotten physical with St. John, which might have been what intrigued him about me, and I was curious as to his reaction. 

“He slapped me! Acted like an outraged virgin!” Robin appeared confused. 

I put my arm around him and pulled him against me, rubbing his back. “He just might be, Robin.” 

He jerked free. “Bloody hell! I was certain you… You never had him, Drew?” 

“No. If he ever had a cock up his arse, Robin, it wasn’t mine.” 

“Oh, bugger. I have mucked it up!” 

“Are you sure you want to have a go at him? Yes, all right,” I chuckled at his affronted stare. “A word of advice then, brother. The next time he turns that aristocratic nose of his up at you, drag him somewhere private, pull down his trou and spank his bare backside!” 

Robin’s mouth opened and closed several times before he could finally speak. “Oh. I say. I rather like that idea.” 

“I rather thought you might.” I cuffed his shoulder lightly. “I’m going up to check on Da’.” 

“Drew? Watch yourself with him.” 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” 

“Nothing. It just means watch yourself. You’re used to looking out for all of us, Drew. I get the impression this Da’ric looks out for himself. You want to shag him senseless, fine. I’d go after him myself if I hadn’t kissed that bleeding viscount’s son. Just… watch your step, all right? I don’t want to see you hurt.” He went back into the kitchen, presumably to torment the bleeding viscount’s son some more, and I ran up to the second floor. 

Robin was wrong. I didn’t want to shag Da’ric senseless. For the first time in more years than I liked to think about, I wanted to make love. With him.


Part 8


I would have preferred staying in the vicinity of Drew Dorincort, but the lure of being clean was like a siren song. I followed the older gentleman up the stairs and into a suite of rooms that rivaled my grandparents’ for luxury. He pointed the way to the bathroom. “You get in the shower, young man. I’ll find some clean clothes for you.” 

“Thank you, Mr. Sayer. I… I really wasn’t looking forward to putting these back on.” 

“Am I correct in assuming they aren’t yours?” I nodded, and the lines around his eyes creased in a smile that was warm with reminiscence. “Tommy and I had to wear ‘borrowed’ clothing once. I had them burned afterwards. Would you like me to…?” 

“Oh, please, sir. I’d really appreciate that. And I don’t think the men they belonged to will much care.” I was unbuttoning the shirt as I spoke and pretended to miss his interested glance. I didn't think he would react well to knowing he had a killer under his roof. 

He opened drawers in a large, antique armoire and selected a shirt and jeans, some socks and underwear and laid them out on the bed. “These knickers have never been worn.” 

“I couldn’t borrow them, not if they’re brand new!” The emerald green silk boxers were beautiful, and I itched to touch them, but I wouldn't, fearing I might somehow betray my interest in their owner. Instead, I wrestled with the shirt. Although I had lost a deal of weight during the time I'd been kept imprisoned and drugged, it was still snug through the shoulders. Suddenly desperate to no longer have it on my body, I exerted what was actually a minimal amount of strength, and shredded it getting it off. 

“These were given to Drew on his last birthday. They are what I believe you Americans would call a gag gift.” He smiled, obviously remembering his grandson’s reaction to the sensuous underwear.  “These are not at all to my grandson’s taste.” 

Who had gifted him with such intimate apparel, I wondered heatedly? I shoved the question, as green as the boxers, into the recesses of my mind and made a sound that could have been taken for agreement or understanding. I turned my back to the older man as I worked on the fastening of the trousers. 

“I say!” Fingers ghosted curiously over my spine and shoulders, and I started in spite of their gentleness. I turned to look into Mr. Sayer's face. His blue eyes widened as my pupils narrowed and elongated. 

My hand went automatically to my face, forgetting I wasn’t wearing the shaded lenses that had shielded my eyes whenever I was not in the Black Lagoon. 

“Those aren’t contact lenses, are they? And these patterns aren’t tattoos.” 

“No, sir.” I stood stiffly, waiting to see what he would say. 

“Interesting. I think you’ll find this family is rather unique in itself. You should fit right in, Da'ric.” I blinked at him in confusion, but he didn’t seem to notice. As he spoke, he was automatically going through the shirt pockets. “Ah? What’s this?” He pulled out a folded slip of paper, holding his arm fully extended, and then bringing it right in front of his nose as he squinted at it. “Bother! I’ve left my glasses downstairs. Would you mind reading this? Just to see if it’s safe to discard?” 

I scanned it quickly, then forced a smile. “Grocery list, Mr. Sayer.” I crushed it in my hand and dropped it into a wastebasket. Quickly I shed the worn corduroy trousers, and gave them to the older man. He walked out of the room, holding the clothes between thumb and forefinger, regarding them with a sneer. 

Once the door was closed behind him, I pounced on the wastebasket and snatched up the piece of paper. ‘Mr. M. is concerned about the snake boy. Call him!’ The word ‘call’ was underscored three times, and there was a phone number scribbled after the message. I memorized it. I wasn’t familiar with the British telephone system, and didn’t know if was local, long distance, or international. 

I’d find out eventually, but there was no rush; I had nowhere in particular to go. Jack Halliwell and Paul Sarone had destroyed my family, although it was Sarone who had sold me to an agent of Callisto Marconi.

Marconi was concerned about me? How very considerate of him. I would have to let him know personally that I appreciated his interest in my well-being. I flexed my hand, and the claws emerged, still stained with blood. 

Halliwell was just a spoiled boy in a man’s body. Out of the blue I was broadsided by a flash of memory, Halliwell sinking himself into my body while I was manacled to the bunk in his yacht. I crammed it into the deepest, darkest corner of my soul. There would be time enough to deal with him. 

As for Paul Sarone… The rainforest was a dangerous place. Anything could happen there. 

I didn’t want anyone to find that paper, so I tucked it into a pocket of the jeans Mr. Sayer had laid out for me, then went to take my shower. 


The water was as hot as I could get it, and steam filled the room. I was finally starting to feel human… well, normal… again. I lathered and rinsed off a number of times, then just stood under the spray and let it beat against me, soaking up the warmth, determinedly keeping my mind blank. I would not permit myself to think of anything beyond the fact that I was no longer chilled. 

There was a tap on the door, and I jumped and almost skidded on the bathmat.  Cooler air filtered over the shower curtain. “Are you all right?” The voice was cool, masculine, Drew Dorincort’s. I wondered what it sounded like whispering words to a lover. 

I shoved the thought from my mind. “Yeah.” Twisting the faucets, I shut off the water, and a large, hair-studded hand appeared, proffering a towel. There was a warming bar along the wall in the bathroom. I sighed in pleasure and rubbed the towel over my hair, blotting most of the water out of it, before running it over my body. I knotted it at my waist and stepped out of the tub. “Oof!” I bumped against the other man who was standing right there. I hadn’t realized he was so close. 

“Yes, you are all right!” He steadied me. The expression in his eyes said he’d like nothing better than to strip off that towel and do some serious exploring of my body. I licked my lips, and he stared at my mouth. My body came alive with desire. Normally I would take a step back, not caring for people to be within my personal space, but he was wearing some sort of scent that was irresistible, and I stayed where I was. “I wanted to make sure Papa left everything you might need.” 

Desire vanished. In the days since I’d shed the thrall of the drugs, I’d resolutely kept the images of that day on the Amazon at bay. Survival took precedence. Mourning would have to wait. But now, just like that, the walls that had encased my emotions crumbled. “Papa?” My voice cracked. That one simple word was all it took to bring the sharp, painful loss of my fathers freshly to mind. 

“It’s what we call the grandfather who brought you up here,” he began casually, then tensed as he studied the torment that chased across my face. “We call our other grandfather Pere.” 

I wasn’t really listening to Drew. “Pa… papa? Oh, hell.” I turned away from him, my shoulders hunched and shuddering, a hand shielding my face. He put his arms around me, refusing to let me go when I tried to jerk free, and turned me to face him. Tears streamed down my face, all the more painful for the absence of sobs. He pulled me snug against him. I surrendered into his embrace, and my head dropped onto his shoulder. I shook so violently from the force of my weeping that we both trembled. 

Drew ran one hand soothingly up and down my bare back, while the other kept me anchored to him. Quietly, under his breath, I could hear him humming a sweet melody. I couldn’t place the song, but it was comforting, and my arms went around him, and I held onto him, my fingers digging into his back. “It’s all right, Da’,” he murmured. “It’s all right.” 

I had to bring myself under control. It wasn’t all right. Crying didn’t solve anything. My fathers were still dead. I started to straighten, and turned my head to apologize for falling apart. His lips brushed across mine, and I froze and pulled slightly back. His black eyes stared into mine, and I couldn’t look away.  The pall of loss faded into a wave of desire. I moaned and took his mouth. 

His lips parted, and my tongue surged into his mouth. My hands fisted his blue-black hair, and I drew his head closer. I could feel his teeth against my lips, and then his tongue was dueling with mine. Beneath the towel, my cock slid out of its sheath. Clever fingers stroked past the edges of the fluffy material and drew patterns on the flesh of my thigh, each pass bringing them closer to my groin. 

“Fuck me,” I pleaded, biting at his mouth. I needed the reassurance that I was still alive. I twisted my lower body in a frantic bid to have his fingers on me. 

He stilled and turned his head away, and refused to allow me to recapture his lips. “No.” 

In a flash, arousal was gone, replaced by shame. I'd begged, and been refused. I shuddered. Why would a suave urbanite such as the Brit in my arms want someone who had been an exhibit in a place like Marconi's House of Oddities? “Sorry." I dropped my hands from his hair and tried to back out of his embrace. "That was stupid of me.” 

His grip tightened to the point I knew there would be bruises; he refused to let me go. He tipped my chin up, forcing me to meet his steady gaze. “No,” he repeated. “I have every intention of taking you to my bed, but not when you’re emotionally off balance.” He brought our mouths together, and I was achingly aware of the difference in the kisses. Where mine had been ravenous, his was almost… tender. "Would it help to talk about it?" 

"Talk about what?" I hedged, carefully piecing my control back together, like a patchwork quilt. 

"I don't know. About why you were in a place like the House of Oddities? About why the word 'papa' was so devastating to you?" 

"Why? Idle curiosity?" 

"No. Quite frankly, Da'ric, I haven't reacted to anyone like this in years." He let me go and searched his pockets for a handkerchief. Gently he dried my cheeks, then handed it to me so I could blow my nose. "As odd as it may seem to you, Yank," the term was like a caress, "I don't generally go around assaulting my house guests in the bath!" 

I began to feel better. Apparently he wasn't as controlled as he appeared. "Is that what you were doing?" I was about to return his handkerchief to him, then thought better of it. 

He looked put out. "What would you call it if someone hauled you out of the bath and kissed you senseless?" 

"Hot? If I remember rightly, I stepped out of the tub, and I was the one who started kissing you. So if any apologies are necessary, they should be mine." 

His eyes became hooded. "And do you intend to apologize?" 

"That would insinuate that there were regrets, and there are none. That would also insinuate that I wouldn’t do it again. I guess I should give you fair warning, Brit, that I intend to." I shrugged and walked out of the bathroom, needing to get dressed. He was right behind me. "I told you how I wound up in the House of Oddities. The son of a bitch behind this whole thing wanted to get back at my …" My voice wobbled, and I had to take a moment to steady it. "…at my Pop. Both my parents were killed as a result." 

"Da'!" His arms were around me. 

"When I was little, I called him 'Papa'. It's such a stupid thing to make me fall to pieces like that. I'm sorry,  I don't generally do that."  

"Did you even have time to grieve for them?" 

I shook my head. "Marconi's man started filling me full of Seconal before it had much of a chance to sink in." Abruptly I bit my lip. "My grandparents! I need to get in touch with them! Oh, jesus, this is going to kill them!" 

His large hands kneaded my shoulders comfortingly. "Once you've eaten you can put in a call to them." 

"I don't have any money to pay you back." 

"I'm holding the folding, Yank." Again that verbal caress. "You can repay me once your family has wired you the money." His expression grew thoughtful. "Since you were most likely brought into this country illegally, the authorities are going to be extremely interested in Callisto Marconi and his various and sundry activities." 

"No." It was my turn to say that, flatly, without any embellishment. 

"Ah. I'm not wrong in assuming that you will want to deal with Marconi yourself, am I? Get dressed now, Da'." 

I reached for the pair of emerald green silk boxers. “Drew.” For the first time I spoke his name aloud, and I could taste it like honey on my tongue. “Do you mind if I wear these?” 

He stared at them blankly. “They’re mine?” 

“Mr. Sayer said they were a gift.” 

“Oh, that's right." His eyes began to glitter with humor. “My brother, Robin, gave them to me for my birthday. His idea of a clever joke.” 

"They're beautiful."  I let the silk drift over the skin of my forearm, its weight cool and delicate. This was something a lover gave you. "Won't he mind that you let me borrow them?" 

"Keep them for all of me. Robin knew I'd never wear them. I don't wear undergarments." 

He was naked under those sophisticated clothes? I turned my back on him, not wanting him to see how his words had affected me, and stepped into the boxers, drawing them up over my legs and under the towel that was still around my waist. Only then did I let the towel drop. 

“Oh. Oh, I say." His eyes were hotly caressing my lower body, and at that moment I had no doubt he wanted me. "Green definitely is your color, Yank.” The corner of his mouth curled in the most lustful grin I had ever seen. 

No one had ever looked at me that way, not even my best friend, Den Moskowitz, who had been my first… my only lover. I fumbled for the tee shirt and got it over my head, then pulled on the jeans and shirt. 

“Here, Da’. I think you’ll need this as well.” He handed me a cream-colored, cable knit sweater. 

“Thanks.” I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to regulate my body temperature. I had just fit my arms through the sleeves when I noticed Drew standing before me, a pair of thick cotton socks in his hand. 

“Put these on.” 

I sat on the edge of the bed and lost myself in the imagery of Drew Dorincort kneeling before me, taking a foot in one hand and caressing the webbing between my toes. I closed my eyes, seeing myself surrendering to the temptation of sliding the other foot into his lap, and feeling the outline of his cock beneath my sole. 

“Are you feeling quite the thing, Yank?" he asked softly, and I shook free of the fantasy. "You look a trifle flushed.” 

“I’m fine, thank you.” Was that my voice? 

“I think I have a pair of slippers my Aunt Dinah gave me a number of years ago.” 

“Oh, no, they probably won’t fit. I have a hard time with footwear unless I have them custom made.” 

“Trust me, you won’t have a problem with these.” Drew opened the bottom drawer of his armoire, and I stared, mesmerized, at the bunch and flow of his muscular ass as he bent and withdrew a pair of long, misshapen, tube-like things knitted in black and orange. “Aunt Dinah gave up on knitting, but not before presenting everyone in the family with a pair similar to these.” He grinned fondly at the memory. 

I took them from him and held them up. “Well, if you ever need a costume for Halloween, you’re all set.” I balanced an ankle on my knee, and I could feel his eyes on my feet. I glanced up in time to catch him licking his lips and watching avidly as I pulled the slippers on. "I have to ask you something, Drew. It doesn’t bother you that I'm the way I am?" I gestured to encompass my eyes, my feet, all of me. 

His face darkened. "I'd like to get my hands on whoever altered you like that. It must have been extremely painful!" 

I felt deflated. He hadn't realized how very different I actually was. I should have known. "Drew, there was no surgery involved. This is how I was born, how I've always been. Your Pa…" I forced myself to say the word. " …Papa seemed to feel there would be no problem, but if you want me to leave…" 

For a second he looked stunned, and then he bent down, and his mouth stopped my words. I sighed as he pulled me up into his embrace, and I leaned against him. He pulled back a bit. “You’re not going anywhere, Da’.” He nuzzled the hair away from my ear and nibbled on the lobe. “We’re a little pressed for room tonight, what with the snowstorm and all,” he said innocently. “If you have no objections, you’ll be staying in my room.” 

“No.” I was dazed with the speed of events. “No objections. Your room will be fine.” 

“Good. Let’s get you fed, then.” His grin was satisfied. “Maybe once you’ve had a decent meal, you won’t have that problem regulating your body temperature.” 

“Yeah,” I agreed. It was only as we were going down the stairs to the first floor that I realized I had said nothing about that aloud.


End Part A

On to Part B