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The Wolf Man/Creature From the Black Lagoon

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Note: Thanks to Wolfsbride for finding this site for me: It never fails to amaze me what’s out there on the Net. This is St. John’s POV. 

A Predestined End

Part 9


I had long accepted that my father could not like me, but I was determined to make him notice me. I had tried being perfect, like my brother Germaine, taking O levels at school and never being sent down. I had toyed with the idea of being disreputable like Uncle James, Mother's brother, to whom I bore a strong physical resemblance. However, neither drugs nor girls appealed to me, and I loathed the way I had felt the morning after my sole attempt at drunken debauchery. 

I decided to try another road. 

Andrew Dorincort was extremely handsome, his dark looks contrasting sharply with those of the rest of his very fair family, and at twenty-five, he was the oldest man I had yet to date. 

Although the title Viscount Ashford was fairly young, Father insisted that Germaine only date young ladies of the bluest blood. Not only was Andrew the wrong sex, but he was also not of the peerage. The most he could claim were a couple of minor baronetcies in his ancestry, and even those were questionable. 

I hoped that by taking Andrew to my bed, my father would finally be forced to acknowledge my presence. I was certain my plan was working when, at dinner one night, he actually addressed me. “St. John. Germaine tells me you are seeing the eldest of Errol Dorincort’s get.” 

Germaine sat at our father’s right hand, looking angelically innocent with his fair hair and vivid blue eyes. He never had to do anything to gain Father’s favor. He was so obviously the Ashford heir. 

“Yes, Father.” I touched my napkin to my lips. “Do you object?” //Please, Father. Forbid me to see him! Show me you care. Show me I mean as much to you as Germaine.// 

“Do as you please.” His lips curled in a sneer. “It is nothing more than I would expect of your mother’s son.” He turned back to the pheasant that was on his plate, slicing at it viciously. 


None of my… dates… ever evolved into anything. I assured myself it did not matter. 

But I found myself fascinated by the dynamics of the Dorincort family. Not only did they love each other, but they liked each other as well. More than anything, I would have liked that for myself, but I had no idea how to go about winning their regard. So I set about it in all the only way I knew how. I fussed and snipped, insinuated myself into others’ conversations, offered opinions where none were asked or desired, and was  supercilious as only my father’s son could be. 

Andrew took me to dinner, he took me to shows at the WestEnd, but he never took me to bed. I could feel him growing further and further distant from me. Even as I joined his family on the outing to Marconi’s House of Oddities, I knew it was just a matter of time before he would sever our relationship, such as it was. It was not the first time I had been spurned, and it would not be the last, I was sure. But I was not ready to stop seeing him. I assured myself it had nothing to do with his family, and more especially with Robert, that abominable brother of his, whom everyone called Robin. 

While we waited for *Ariane* and Priscilla to emerge from the ladies’ loo, Robert sniped at me relentlessly and frowned at my prissy responses to his teasing. But then his sister cried out for help, and we were pelting down the stairs to that nightmare of a cellar room. 

By the time we left the House of Oddities, I was biting down hard on my back teeth to prevent myself from vomiting. The sight of the snake boy stuffing a still-beating heart into its owner's mouth was something that was likely to haunt my dreams forever. 

Desperate to erase that image, I began conversing in inanities, trying to distract myself, to fill the silence in Robert's Jaguar. “I knew this afternoon would be a total waste of time!” I sniffed. I had learned as a child to speak on one topic while thinking of something else, and had no idea even of what I was saying.  “I knew there was nothing edifying in that place! And now it is going to snow. I hate snow! It is wet and cold, and it makes my eyelashes stick together.” It wasn’t working. I was still able to hear the screams, see the gore, smell the overlying scent of death. I began speaking more rapidly.    “And I stepped in something down there. I think it might have been blood! I will have to throw these shoes out! They are totally ruined! Do you have any idea how expensive these shoes are? They are custom crafted, and it takes weeks to have them made, and even more weeks to be delivered! And…” 

Robert swore vilely and pulled over to the curb, and put the car in park. "There has to be something better you can do with that mouth of yours!" he snarled, then dragged me over the console between the bucket seats. One hand was fisted in the hair that curled at the nape of my neck, tightening until it was just short of painful. The fingers of his other hand were digging into my hip. His mouth opened on mine, parting my lips, and Robert Dorincort, the most irritating… desirable… man I had ever met, began kissing me. 

"Oh!" The tiny sound whispered from my mouth. I had been kissed before; of course I had been kissed before; after all, I was a viscount’s son, and I was almost twenty, but my reaction to Robert's kisses stunned me. I whimpered and tried to burrow closer to him. 

I was overwhelmed by the knowledge that Robert had been wanting me all along, had been saying all those taunting words to get me to notice him, but he had not meant them, not truly; I just knew it! 

I felt as if I held the world in the palm of my hand. He would belong to me, I would belong to him. He would take me to his bed and gently remove my clothing, covering my body with feverish kisses, all the while vowing undying love. 

"Touch me!" he ordered, confusing me. I had been touching him, tracing the lines of his ears, stroking over the muscles of his back, flexing my fingers in his shoulders. "Come on, Singe; don’t be coy!” He grabbed my hand and pressed it to the bulge in his trousers, and rocked against my palm. I recoiled in shock. 

Abruptly I realized I had read the entire situation wrong. 

Foolish me. I had been lost in the fantasy of being passionately desired, of happily ever after, while Robert… He was simply lost in lust. 

Stupid, foolish fantasy.  

He tensed, as if expecting me to strike out at him. Very carefully I eased off his lap, settled myself back in my seat and turned my head, staring out the windscreen, praying he would not notice the hopelessness in my eyes. 


“You’d better call home to let them know you’ll be spending the night here,” Robert told me as he took my coat to hang up in the hall cupboard. “I’m sure your father the viscount will be concerned.” 

I called, but of course the house was empty. The family were vacationing in Monaco. I spoke loudly enough so anyone nearby was sure to overhear, but my finger was on the hook, and I spoke into the dead air. “Father, I will be spending the night at Andrew Dorincort’s home. No, we will not be alone; his grandfathers will be here, as well as his brothers and sister. Yes, I will be fine, Father. Yes, I know you worry about me. Yes, I love you too, Father.” 

Yes, it was all bloody balderdash. 

Robert’s eyebrow rose until it appeared to disappear in the fall of blond hair that tumbled over his forehead. 

I was not about to let him see I cared tuppence for his opinion. I tipped my nose in the air and turned my back on him. Then Ariane came running into the hall. 

“Oh, Robin, quick! Come see what’s on the telly!” 

Robert followed her, and I trailed after him. His grandfathers stared at the set in horror. On the screen was a conflagration. Firefighters stood braced, hoses blasting spumes of water over the raging fire. A voice was intoning solemnly, “Fire officials have stated that the sudden blaze at Marconi’s House of Oddities will take hours to bring under control. Nothing, they inform this reporter, will be saved.” 

“Drew! Oh, my god, Drew is still there!” Mr. Sayer’s mouth was grim, and his complexion was ashen. 

“Right. I’m after him.” Mr. Fortescue-Smythe strode back into the hall and put a heavy jacket on. 

"Pere, you're just getting over a cold…" 

"Tommy, you're going to wind up back in bed!" But Mr. Sayer was putting a jacket on as well. 

Before the others had time to follow suit, the front door burst open, and Andrew walked in, his shirt clinging damply to his torso. I had never before seen him like that, and was rather startled by the highly defined muscles. He was followed closely by the snake boy, who had Andrew’s jacket draped over his shoulders and was holding a young dog. It was only on closer examination that I realized the little beast was actually a wolf. Of course I protested her presence in the house. "Surely you do not intend to bring her into the kitchen! Filthy, disgusting animal! She probably has fleas as well!" What I was really protesting was the unusually attractive snake boy who stood so close to Andrew. To whom Andrew stood so close. “Andrew, I want to go home!" I needed his attention back on me. 

He regarded me as if I was a petulant child. "The storm has gotten too bad, St. John." 

"If you will not take me home…" I was tempted to stamp my foot in frustration. I could see Andrew was fascinated by the snake boy, whose name, he said, was Da'ric. 

"Put a cork in it, Singe." Robert was the only one who called me that, and I hated it when he used that tone of voice. "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." 

I pretended Robert hadn't spoken at all. "That beast is a wild animal! If it bites me…" 

Alan snapped at me, "It's a she, St. John, and if you don't shut up, I'll bite you!" 

I subsided glumly, seeing the family draw tighter together, seeing myself even further on the outskirts. Mr. Sayer escorted the snake boy upstairs to shower. God in heaven, he was beautiful! There was no way I could compete with his exotic good looks! And then I heard Andrew wondering if there were enough beds for everyone. He said, "I want Da'ric in my room. To keep an eye on him." 

"What about me?" I cringed at the childish whine, but I had to make one last effort. "I should be the one in your room!" 

"You can sleep on the daybed in the room Thom and Alan share, Singe. Or you can sleep in my room." Robert’s eyes wandered over my body in a deliberate attempt to arouse me. 

It was successful. I could feel a flush of sexual heat sweep over me to pool in my groin. Abruptly I realized Robert must be simply taunting me. I determined to ignore him, but when I looked his way again, his expression was bland, and he was beckoning me to follow him into the kitchen. 


I stood staring morosely before the glass panel in the back door of Andrew’s kitchen. I could see Andrew and Robert reflected in it. They were speaking urgently, occasionally glancing in my direction. I pretended to be unaware, unconcerned. But I watched the reflection as they hurriedly left the room. 

“Do you intend to eat anything, St. John?” Alan Dorincort asked. “I’m afraid we’ve finished the eggs I scrambled.” 

I turned back to find them all seated around the table, and my mouth twisted. “I will fix something for myself, if you do not mind?” Not that I much cared what they thought at this point. There was nothing quite like making a total fool of one’s self. I went to the refrigerator  and examined the contents. Eggs, ham, half a wheel of cheese, a green pepper, some mushrooms. I found an onion in the pantry, and began grating and chopping, putting together an omelet. 

Robert sauntered back into the kitchen, looking so sexy my mouth went dry. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him come to a dead halt and stand stock still in amazement, watching as I carefully poured the concoction into the heated frying pan, swirling it periodically until it set. 

“Mrs. Harris is going to be so cross with you!” She was their housekeeper and had worked for the family for ages. From what I had learned, she ruled the kitchen like a tyrant. 

I scowled, but kept my gaze focused on the omelet. 

“You know what she does to cheeky little boys who play in her kitchen?” 

I pointedly kept my back to him and still said nothing. 

“She pulls down their trousers and spanks their bare bum!” 

I caught my breath, suddenly imagining what it would be like, Robert peeling my trousers off my legs and bending me over his lap, his hand landing rhythmically on my bum, gradually turning my arse cheeks pink. My hand clenched the handle of the frying pan. 

Vaguely I realized that we were alone and wondered how could I not have noticed six people and a wolf leaving the room. 

Robert’s breath was warm on the back of my neck, and I started, causing some of the egg mixture to spill over the side of the frying pan and hiss as it fell onto the burner. My hair was brushed aside and teeth nipped gently along the side of my throat, while the fingers of his other hand stroked down the front of my body, stopping just short of my hardening cock. 

I bit my lip, stifling a moan. All I wanted was to lean back against him and let him have his way with me. My cock was pleading for its share of attention. 

“That turns you on, does it?” he whispered hoarsely. “The thought of being spanked?” I could feel his arousal nudging the crevice of my buttocks. 

Robert reached around and switched off the flame, then turned me and began crowding me toward the table, his mouth on mine, his tongue in my mouth taking tiny licks. 

His lips left my mouth and whispered over my cheek to my ear. “Drew was right, wasn’t he?” he murmured. “You are a virgin. I moved too fast in the car; this time I’ll take it slower.” 

“You discussed me with your brother?” I closed my eyes and very carefully straightened out of his embrace. “So Andrew has decided to move on to the snake boy, and has graciously given you leave to have me? If I am so unlovable that no one would shag me, I fail to see why you would even want me.” 

“Don’t you ever look in your mirror, Singe? You’re bloody gorgeous!” 

I went back to the stove and turned it on. “Oh?” He thought I was gorgeous? I fought back a delighted grin. 

“Sure you are. When you don’t ruin it by pouting and acting like a spoiled little boy!” 

I would not permit myself to shout, “Bugger!” I would not permit myself to slam the frying pan down and storm out of the kitchen, leaving the omelet to burn. For a moment, I savored the notion of the stunned silence that would no doubt be left behind in my wake. 

I did nothing of the sort, of course. Ashfords never swore. Ashfords never lost their temper. Ashfords never… 

My father did not believe I was an Ashford. He believed my mother had a passionate affair with… with someone else. Someone whose genes reinforced the chestnut hair and green eyes of her family. 

I put a plate to the back of the stove to warm and carefully I folded the omelet. Two slices of bread went into the toaster, and I pushed down the lever. 

“I’m starved! Would you… uh…would you be willing to share that with me, St. John?” Robert asked, hesitant for the first time since I had met him. 

“Not afraid I might poison you after that little exchange?” I buttered the toast and slid the omelet onto the plate, and in spite of myself, temper leeched out. I slapped it down on the table. “Have the whole thing! I have lost my appetite.” 

His hand closed over my wrist. “Which is the real you, Singe? The spoiled brat who made a play for my older brother? Or the young man who was scared spitless in that cellar room, but who refused to leave us there?” 

“The spoiled brat, obviously, Robert.” Did he actually think I had any redeeming qualities? My father would have been more than willing to confirm that I did not. I stared pointedly at my wrist, hoping he would take the hint to release me. Instead, his grip tightened, and he pulled me against his body. 

“I want you. I must be out of my mind, Singe, but I do! Spend the night with me!” 

“How could I possibly say no to such a very suavely phrased request, Robert? Of course, it is always so high on my list of priorities to make you happy that it breaks my heart to refuse you, but I am afraid  this time you must be doomed to disappointment.” I jerked my wrist free and glared at him a final time. 

“Where are you going?” 

“I am going to the daybed in Alan and Thomas’ room, and if I am eaten by that wolf, it will serve you right, and I will return and haunt the hell out of you, Robert Dorincort!” 

I opened the door that led into the hall and walked directly into Andrew and the man who was replacing me. They had obviously overheard every incautious word I had said. 

This time I did say it. “Bugger!”


Note: Since we've got some conversations between David and Ric'u, // indicates their communication.


Part 10


The door to the kitchen burst open, and St. John Ashford came storming out, to barrel into me. His green eyes widened in horror as he realized we had heard his tirade. 

“Bugger!” St. John scowled at me, glared over his shoulder at my brother Robin, and then stalked away, his spine stiff with fury. Before he could reach the stairs, Robin was after him, his hand closing on St. John’s arm and whirling him around. “Don't…” 

Whatever the younger man was about to growl was cut off when my brother’s mouth took his. I had never had the opportunity to see him in action and watched with interest. Robin buried his fingers in the red curls and turned St. John’s head first one way and then the other as he plundered his mouth, swallowing his soft whimpers. And then St. John tore himself out of my brother’s arms. 

For a moment I thought a donnybrook would erupt in the hallway. His face flushed, his eyes narrowed, St. John drew back his fist, but before he could launch a blow, Robin bent, got his shoulder into St. John’s diaphragm, and hoisted him up in a fireman’s lift. The air whooshed from his lungs, along with a string of words I had never before heard him utter. 

Robin went up the stairs, two at a time, with the young man trying to get enough leverage to strike him. I was smiling as I turned to face the man who stood beside me, a dazed look on his face. 

“What was that all about?” 

“I have no idea, but I rather think those two have met their matches. Come along, Da’. I want to feed you. Let’s see if they left us anything.” 

We went into the kitchen to find a beautiful, fluffy omelet on the table. I took another plate from above the sink, sliced the omelet in two, and put one half before him. “Enjoy, Yank.” 

I watched him take small, neat bites as he ate. Periodically, he’d rub the spot above his right ear. “Headache?” I asked. 

His expression was puzzled, and he shook his head. “It’s almost like… an itch.” 

I wanted to stroke his hair, soothe him. I took a bite of the omelet instead. “Oh, I say. This is excellent! Robin must be taking cooking lessons!” 

He pushed the plate away. “Sorry, I can’t eat any more.” 

“No. You don’t want to push your stomach at this point.” I slid it onto my plate and ate it as well. 

Da’ sipped the tea I had poured for him, watching me as I watched him. He leaned forward and touched his forefinger to my lip, then put his finger in his mouth, his eyes never leaving mine. “There was a bit of omelet on your lip.” 

For a second I couldn’t catch my breath. Nothing that intimate had been done to me in… I couldn’t think how long. I ran my tongue over my lips, hoping I’d be able to taste him there. “You’ll sleep in my bed tonight,” I told him, and those pupils of his dilated until they were surrounded by a ring of gold. “You… er… you needed to make a phone call?” 

We rose and went into the hall where the phone was, and I dialed the number he’d given me, to no avail. The second number was more successful, and I listened to the warmth in his voice with growing displeasure. 

“Den? Hi, babe.” “Yeah, it’s Da’.” “I’m in London. Look, it’s really important that I get in touch with my grandparents, but apparently they’re not home?” “They’re where? Well, what the fuck are they doing in Brazil?” “What?” “What?” 

I caught him before he could sag to the floor and held him up. “They’re alive!” He turned and buried his head in my shoulder. “They’re alive!” I took the phone from him and raised it to my ear. 

“Day? Did you hear me? I said your dads are all right!” His dads? “Your Gram and Granddad flew down a couple of months ago to look for them…” 

“Hold on a tic, would you,” I interrupted. “Da’ needs a moment to get himself together.”

“Who are you?” The man’s voice on the other end suddenly exuded hostility. 

“I’m Andrew Dorincort, and Da’ric will be staying with me. More to the point, I would think, is who you are?” 

Before he could answer, Da’ took the phone from me. “Den, you’re not just telling me that?” “Okay, okay.” He glanced at me, then turned away. His voice dropped to a whisper, but I had no trouble hearing his next words, and my chest swelled. “Drop dead gorgeous, baby! He’s one of the good guys.”  “Thanks, you know I’m always careful!” “Listen, I’ll tell you about it the next time I see you.” “Yeah, me too. Bye, Den.” 

I felt deflated, sure that there was more then just friendship between those two. He hung up the phone and stood there, gazing off into space, his eyes unfocused. Alarmed, I jerked him around to face me. He wasn’t seeing me, but suddenly there was a strange sensation in my head, like an itch I couldn’t scratch. I rubbed the spot over my right ear. And then, just as abruptly, it was gone. 

But there was a smile on Da”s face. I was unable to help myself. I captured it with my lips and tasted sheer joy. His arms went around my shoulders, and he hugged me close to him. “They’re alive!” he whispered. 

“Your fathers?” 

“Yes. I thought they were dead. That’s why I shut down.” 

“‘Shut down’?” 

He smiled again and simply shook his head. 

“Er… fathers?” 

“Yeah. I’ve got two. Long story.” 

And I could see he wasn’t about to tell me. I thought it better not to press for the moment. “Does… uh… does that mean you’ll be going home?” Didn’t matter what he said. I wasn’t going to let him go. 

“Yes. But not for a while. I have some work to do here first.” 

“You’ll stay here, then.” I was so relieved I didn’t think to ask what he could possibly have to do in a city he had never been to. “That’ll be grand.” 

“I don’t want to impose…” 

“Da’ric. You are staying with me.” 

Oh, that smile. “All right. Thanks.” And then he leaned in and kissed me. 


//You were able to get in touch with Da’?// 

//Yes, David.// There was fond exasperation in his thought. //How many times do you want me to tell you?// 

//But why couldn’t you reach him before?// 

He frowned, a frightening expression to any who were unfamiliar with his draconian features. //He thought we were dead and shut down his emotions. In that he is very like you.// 

//What?// I was about to refute that hotly, but my lover reminded of my own reaction when I was a boy and had thought I had lost him. 

//How many years did it take for me to get beneath your mental shield?// 

I thought of all those years, of what it had finally taken to convince me that I would find my heart’s desire in the Black Lagoon. //But you love me anyway, don’t you?// He cuffed me gently, and I embraced him, so relieved that our tadpole had been found. 

//We’d better let your parents know their grandson is in London.// 

I stopped so suddenly he stepped on my heels. //London? Ric’u, how did he get to London?// 

//He was sold to someone who displayed unusual exhibits.// 

//The same someone who would have taken the remains of the D'ilian?// 

Ric shrugged. //Unlikely.// A clawed finger tipped my chin up. //Sarone and Halliwell had a hand in Da's kidnapping.// 

//Halliwell? Who…?// 

// He was a lover.// 

//No.// I corrected him. //You are a lover.// I rubbed my cheek against his palm. //I went to bed with him?//

//You don’t remember?// The Brachian swatted my seat. //You went to bed with entirely too many men!// 

//Halliwell? Oh, hell, the Afrikaner?// I suddenly felt dizzy. I recalled him leaving me asleep in the South African sun. //Ric, it was my fault that day on the river happened?// That day when our world had exploded. I'd seen the boat chugging around the bend in the Amazon, and then seen the white puff of smoke and heard the roar of the rocket launcher. 

I had thrown the Jo into reverse and attempted desperately to evade the rocket, but it had been a futile maneuver. Just before the explosive connected with the vulnerable side of my boat, Ric was there. As the explosion shattered the quiet of the river, his broad shoulder caught me in the ribs, fracturing them, and the two of us flew over the side and into the murky water. 

He had been badly burned and cut by flying debris, and it fell to me to get him back to shore. Somehow I managed to make it back to our home and get both of us into the rejuvenation chamber. 

And by the time we were able to leave the chamber, Da'ric was nowhere to be found, and Ric was unable to contact him even though his link was the stronger. My parents were there, insisting on staying with us until they were assured of our complete recovery. 

I was horrified that my promiscuity as a young man had resulted in that terrible day. 

//No, my own. No.// He nuzzled the spot where my shoulder and neck joined. I looked up into his face. A big hand reached down to stroke my hair. 

//How can you say that? Both those men wanted me…// 

Abruptly he was the monster that had destroyed the men who had desecrated the body of his chief engineer. //I will show them what happens when they try to hurt what is mine.// 

I reached for him, my fingers digging into the soft skin of his inner arm. //I go with you. We will both show them! Now let’s tell my parents the good news, and then make plans.// My mother and father had come down to Brazil when Da' didn't show up for the Fall semester. They had grown more and more worried when they hadn't been able to get in touch with me either. 

I dove into the warm waters of the Lagoon and began to swim toward the opening of the tunnel that led to our home. When I realized he wasn’t right behind me, I glanced back. He hung there in the faint haze, so big, and so beloved. I felt as if I had taken a blow to my chest. //Ric’u.// 

The days when I could conceal anything from my lover were long gone; the mental link between us now made it impossible. The wave of love and lust and longing swept over him in rainbow colors, and I was swamped by his response, the force of it sending me tumbling backwards. 

Disoriented, I would have wound up swallowing a good portion of the Black Lagoon, but he had my head up above the surface before I could react. His slim cock was out of its sheath and nudging at my hole, and then he rammed his entire length into me. I wrapped my arms and legs around him, and held on. 

Each undulation of his hips saw my cock being caressed by the smoothness of his belly, and I rocked against him in counterpoint. His tongue snaked out to lick my ear, my neck, my hairline, and I latched onto the spot where his neck and shoulder joined and sucked the skin into my mouth, needing to mark him as mine as surely as he claimed me as his. 

He growled softly in my ear, and I whimpered and moaned as he found my sweet spot over and over. And then with one final shove, his knot was past my anus, swelling and plugging me, and he filled my passage with his semen. I clung to him, shivering and helpless, as he pulsed and quivered deep inside me. 

His big palm stroked down my back, and traced the crevice between my buttocks, finding the place where we were joined. He pressed against it, and with a gasp I came. 

Ric'u floated on the surface of the Black Lagoon, letting the warm, still waters support his weight. I lay on him, relishing the warmth of the sun on my back, and that of my lover beneath me. 

//I love you, you big green dragon.// 

I could feel the rumble of his satisfaction, and his arms tightened around me. //My greatest wish is that our son finds a love as deep as ours.//  Slowly he slid out of me and gave my neck a final lick. //Now let's find your parents. There is no need for them to stay any longer.// 

//I'm sorry they worried while we were in the rejuvenation chamber, but there was no way for us to contact them, even if the distance hadn't been so great.// 

//You don't mind that I would like to see them go?// 

//It was wonderful of Captain Lucas and Dr. Thompson to bring them up river, but you're right. Now that we know that Da' is all right, they can go home.// 

//And we can be alone again?// 

I smiled at him and kissed the corner of his muzzle. //And we can be alone.// 


Part 11


I’d had lovers, male and female, but I’d never had a love. Now it seemed that I did. 

Da’ric smiled at me when I informed him, "You are staying with me.” Oh, that smile. I had never seen one that affected me the way his smile did. It seemed to burrow its way into my chest and wind itself around my heart. 

“All right. Thanks.” And then he leaned in and kissed me. I felt as if my mind was enveloped by an unexpected warmth, and I reacted in a way that had become foreign to me. I closed my hands over his shoulders and pulled him flush against me, feeling again the long lines of his body against mine. His kiss was cool and sweet, but it quickly heated up. I thrust my tongue past his lips, licking at the roof of his mouth. He hummed in approval and sucked on my tongue. 

"Ah hem." A deep voice sounded from behind us, and we broke apart. 


“Family conference. Where is Robin?” 

“He’s gone upstairs, Pere.” 

Pere glanced around the hallway. “And the Honorable Mr. Ashford?” 

“Er… he’s gone upstairs, too.” 

“Has he, now? What an interesting set of circumstances!” The corner of Pere’s mouth curved up in a grin. “The rest of the family is in here. Come along. There’s something we need to talk about.” 

I ushered Da’ric into the sitting room, my left palm casually resting on his hip. Papa was standing by the front window, the curtain parted enough for him to gaze out into the snow-shrouded street. Pere went to join him. He stood slightly behind him, an arm around Papa's shoulder, joining them together. I could hear Papa's soft sigh of pleasure at his touch. 

Alan sat in one of the over-sized easy chairs with the little wolf curled on his lap. She raised her head when we entered, her eyes bright, her ears cocked alertly. “She’ll be fine, Drew,” Alan murmured. I crouched before her, studying her eyes. A lupine grin parted her jaws. I rubbed the spot under her chin, nodded, and got back to my feet. 

Ariane was on the rug in front of the fireplace. Her arms were wrapped around her legs, and her head rested on her knees. She stared into the red and orange of the flames, her eyelids drooping, valiantly trying to stay awake. It had been an amazing day for all of us, and I knew she’d be falling asleep before too long.

Thom and Cilla were seated side by side on the loveseat, and I elevated an eyebrow to see my younger brother’s fiancée included in a family meeting. Thom copied my gesture, cutting a glance to the man who stood at my elbow, then rose and took me aside. “Cilla’s always known there was something different about us, Drew,” he whispered almost soundlessly, knowing I would have no trouble hearing him. “Before we became engaged, I talked to Dad about it, and he said it was only fair that I tell her what we are.” 

I could feel Da’ric watching me, but just nodded. I'd always liked Priscilla Danvers, even when I couldn't see myself spending the rest of my life with her. 

"What about him?" Thom's eyes were on the golden-eyed man. 

"What about him?" 

“He’s not part of the family. This could be dangerous…” The door closed with an almost silent snick. I wheeled around. Da’ric had left the room. Thom finished weakly, “… for him.” 

The warmth that had been in my mind was gone. I glanced at my brothers, at my sister, at my grandfathers. “It’s only fair that I tell him. He needs to know what I am, what he’ll be facing by becoming involved with me.” And I went after him. 

He was almost at the stairs. 

“Da’ric. Wait.” 

His shoulders stiffened, and I thought he would ignore me, but then he turned to face me. I was appalled at how exhaustion, and something else, muddied his golden eyes. “Your brother is right. You don’t know me. I could bring danger to your family.” 

How had he known Thom said anything about danger? We had been speaking too quietly to be heard by anyone even a couple of feet away from us, and Da’ric had been at the other side of the room. I shook myself out of my bemusement. There wasn’t time to wonder about that now. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I hedged. “Come back inside.” 

“Don’t you? Look, this has nothing to do with me.” He backed toward the stairs. 

I felt as if he was deliberately shutting me out, and I reached for his wrist and stopped him. “I want you to come back inside,” I repeated, surprised at how much I wanted him in the room with me. “This concerns you, too.” 

“Does it? I don’t see how; I’m a stranger here. We’ve known each other, what, a matter of hours?” I was startled to realize he was correct. “Drew, it’s been a long day, and I’m really wiped out. Tell me about it tomorrow if you want. All I’m good for now is bed.” 

My cock hardened at the picture of him naked, spread luxuriously on the sheets, and I tightened my grip. “My bed.” It might have only been hours since we’d met, but it suddenly occurred to me that I’d been waiting forever for him. Seconds passed. They were the longest seconds of my life, but he finally nodded, and I let him go. “By the by, I sleep on the right side of the bed.” 

His eyes searched mine. “Why are you telling me this?” 

“Dunno, Yank. Thought, perhaps, you’d like to know.” I intended to have him in my bed for the rest of our lives, but I didn’t say that aloud, afraid I might frighten him off. Oddly, I thought I felt a tendril of warmth caress my mind, but dismissed it. “You’ve seen my bed; it’s a large one. I don’t want to go searching for you in it.” 

“You won’t have to search hard, Brit.” He took a step closer to me. 

“No, I won’t.” I held my breath, waiting to see what he would do. Another step, and then he was back in my arms. I held him tightly and kissed him. 

“Ah hem. Are you planning on making a habit of this, Andrew?” 

I leaned my forehead against Da”s and began to chuckle. “Quite probably, Pere.” I let my fingers trail over Da”s arms, then released him. “Go on to bed, Da’. I won’t be too long.” I watched him climb the stairs, regretting the loose fit of the jeans Papa had found for him. The length was fine, but his lower body was not as muscular as mine. I looked forward to buying him clothes that would mold to his arse and his long legs. I recalled the way the green silk boxers he wore had hung low on his hips, and my mouth suddenly went dry with the need to peel them off him. 

He stumbled on the stairs, and his head whipped around to stare at me, his eyes wide. I thought for a second he would come back down, but after a silent struggle, he resumed his climb to the second floor and disappeared into the dimness of the hallway. Only after I heard my bedroom door shut did I go back into the sitting room. My family all stared at me with interest. 

I propped my fists on my hips and glowered at each of them. “He is mine. Any objections, and none of you will be pleased with the outcome!” 

Mouths dropped open, and surprise showed clearly on each of my siblings’ faces. And then they began to grin. 

“But Andrew,” Papa remarked as he removed Pere’s monocle, blew on it, and buffed it before returning it to him, “I thought you didn’t have the energy to pursue anyone into your bed.” His eyes crinkled at my disgruntled expression. Pere had obviously told him what he had interrupted in the hall. Twice. 

“Papa, you can tease Drew later,” Alan said impatiently, unable to rise because of the wolf lying across his lap. “How can we convince Bryanna it’s safe to change?” 

“We can’t, Alan. Not at this point.” 

“I know she’s been through a traumatic experience. I’ve been able to tell by the condition she was in. But…” 

I squeezed his shoulder to reassure him. “Once she’s more comfortable with us, we’ll see what we can do, but until then, don’t pressure her.” 

“She is one of us, though, isn’t she?” In spite of what Thom had said about Cilla, Alan was still cautious revealing our true heritage, and I smiled at him in approval. 

“Yes, she is, Alan.” The little wolf looked at me, her plumed tail thumping on my youngest brother’s thighs. Then her gaze returned to him, almost worshipful. “She seems to have chosen you as her champion.” 

His eyes grew enormous. “Truly? Oh, Bree!” And he hugged her so tightly I thought she might yelp a protest. Instead, she licked his cheek and settled contentedly against him. 


Papa pulled out the old-fashioned pocket watch that he kept in his vest pocket. Pere had given it to him a long time ago. He checked the time and glanced up. “Bed, children. We’ll need to be up early tomorrow if we want to get to Dorincort Place before noon.” 

There were good-natured objections to being called children by my siblings, but they all rose and prepared to troop obediently up the stairs. 

I bid them good night, stacked the tea things in the kitchen, and made sure the house was locked up tight. My thoughts kept wandering to the young man in my room, and I climbed the stairs with eager anticipation.

The second floor was quiet, but if I extended my hearing I had no doubt I would hear the little sounds that signaled bedtime: teeth being brushed, clothes being removed and pajamas put on, … kisses and words of passion and the glide of flesh on flesh… Determinedly I shut out what was going on behind Robin’s closed door. 

I was more interested in what would be going on behind my door. I was hard. For the first time in a long time, I had found someone with whom I wanted to have hot, torrid sex. But more than that, I wanted a relationship with him. My heart was beating rapidly, and I was almost panting in excitement. 

When I opened my door, the only light that illuminated the room was from a bedside lamp. I was disappointed to find that while he was in bed, he was also sound asleep. And he was as close to the edge of the far side as he could get. Well, he wouldn’t be that far away from me for long. 

I hurried into the bathroom for a quick shower, needing to wash away the stress of the day. Afterwards, dressed in warm pajamas, I snapped off the lamp and crossed to the window, pulling back the curtains. A waning gibbous moon, the first phase after a full moon, reflected its light off the snow that covered neighboring rooftops and blanketed the small alley that led to the mews. 

In spite of the fact that Da’ was asleep, tension was writ in the way he held his body. He slept on his stomach, his arms bent at the elbow, but kept close to his sides. His lips were slightly parted, and his very stillness drew me to him. A lock of black hair curved over a high cheekbone. Before I realized what I was doing, I had reached out to touch the dark silk, sliding my fingers through it and curling it behind his ear. I wanted to fling back the covers and crawl on top of him, but instead I went around to my side of the bed and got in. 

I knew he had been hurt by being excluded from the family. In the morning I would explain to him that it wasn’t because of who or what he was, but rather because of what I was. I had never been with anyone long enough to need to tell them of my background. How would he react when he learned I was a were… a shapeshifter? 

Da’ murmured in his sleep, something in a language I was unfamiliar with, that sounded like the name Joe. He began to shift restlessly, drawing closer to me as if seeking warmth, or possibly something else, and I found myself with an armful of sleek, near-naked young man. It didn’t matter who this Joe was; I had Da’ now, and I wasn’t going to let him go. One of my hands wandered down, petting his back and finally settling on his arse, and I realized he was clothed only in boxers. He relaxed in my hold with a sigh, his head tucked under my chin and his arms around me. 

I sighed soundlessly myself and wriggled into his touch. Our legs tangled, and I was certain I would be unable to fall asleep. My mind whirled with the events of the day, the meeting with the snake boy, my sudden attraction to him… 

Between one thought and the next, I was sound asleep. 


The heat was oppressive, the humidity so great it was as if you could take a handful of air and wring the moisture from it. The boat rocked gently on the current of the river. I didn’t know why I was dreaming of this place, of these events, of this poor boy to whom they were happening. As if through a gauze curtain, I watched the events unfold. Each time I thought I would finally see his features, something seemed to prevent it. 

His hands were covered in blood; I saw the naked young man dragged below decks. I saw him struggling against insurmountable odds to free himself, only to be cuffed finally to the bunk. His legs were spread and manacled, his position exerting pressure on the muscles and tendons of his shoulders. His breathing was harsh and ragged, but otherwise he remained silent. 

And then I saw the man enter. He was soft, with rolls of flesh that were revealed as he stripped off the sweat stained white suit he wore. His prick swelled, and he took his time coating it with lubricant, stroking it and fondling his balls. With hard hands he parted the young man’s buttocks and slammed into him. The young man turned his face toward me, and I saw how battered it was. His eyes opened, not much more than slits, but the distinctive pupils told me all I needed to know. This was Da’ric, and I howled in outrage. 

The change began. I felt bone and muscle become fluid and flow into a different form, one which was lower to the ground. My head flattened, and my features altered as jaws elongated into a muzzle. Dense black fur sprouted all over my body, and a tail emerged from the base of my spine. My hackles rose, and deep growls spilled from my mouth. 

The man pulled his pathetic dick out of the young man beneath him and whirled around to face the unexpected threat. He lost his balance and fell heavily onto Da’ric. His breath left his lungs in rapid, terrified pants; his mouth opened, and a single shrill cry escaped. With a lazy lunge, I had his neck between my jaws, and I bit down with every bit of pressure I could exert. There was the satisfying sound of bone and cartilage being crushed between my teeth, and my mouth was flooded with warm, sweet blood. I shook my head sharply, and his head parted from his shoulders. The body fell backwards off the bunk and onto the cabin deck. 

I flung the grisly trophy away, savage satisfaction flashing through me as I watched the sightless eyes blink reflexively, then stepped back. Da’ric stared at me over his shoulder, still silent, waiting to see if the same fate would befall him. I went to the foot of the bunk and severed the restraints that bound his ankles with a single snap of my jaws, then stepped up onto the bunk and nudged his rump with my head. The gentle push enabled him to move forward and ease the pressure on his shoulders. He bit off a moan and managed to get the cuffs over the hook that had been screwed into the bulkhead paneling. 

I growled in fury that this had been done to mine. //Shhh, shhh.// It was a whisper in my mind as he angled himself over onto his back and buried his fingers in the fur of my ruff. //Free me.// He extended his hands, and again my jaws snapped shut, leaving the links that joined the handcuffs to dangle uselessly. Gently I licked the blood that still oozed sluggishly from the backs of his hands. //Thank you.// His hands went around my neck and he urged me up onto his body. Carefully I placed my paws on either side of him and settled myself along the soft skin of his torso. I would watch over him as I had often done for my siblings. 

But unlike with my siblings, I was aware of the body beneath me, and my cock began to slide from its sheath. To my amazement, I felt a similar response from Da’ric. His hips rocked up, and my cock slid down and lodged against his puckered opening. I couldn’t prevent the sudden jerk of my own hips at being offered such a temptation. My body claimed what belonged to me, and I buried myself in his tight heat. 

We stayed like that, motionless, connected. Heavy weariness weighted his thoughts, but his fingers stroked over my head. He fondled my ears, and as the tension slipped from us, we both slid into a light doze.



Note: This starts from St. John’s POV, then switches to Da”s.


Part 12


I let out a shout. Well, I tried to let out a shout, but Robert’s shoulder connecting with my diaphragm made that difficult, turning it to more of an ‘oof’. He hoisted me up in a fireman’s lift and stormed up the stairs to the second floor. I was more than impressed by the sheer physicality of his act, and I prayed he would not feel how aroused I had become. 

I pounded on his back with clenched fists, but again, the act was ineffectual. I could not get the leverage to follow through with the kind of force I wanted. 

However, what I did succeed in doing was annoy him beyond imagining. His right palm connected quite smartly with my rump, and I yelped in protest and kicked out with my legs. 

“Do that one more time, St. John, and I will strip off your trousers and spank your naked bum!” 

“You would not dare!” I breathed, excited by his threat, and shamed by my excitement. 

“Oh, wouldn’t I, just! Try me!” Robert strode down the corridor to his bedroom and entered, slamming the door behind him and locking it. Then he threw me onto the bed and stood glowering down at me. 

I struggled to catch my breath, staring in helpless fascination as he began to unbutton his shirt. His chest was covered by a pelt the same shade as his eyebrows, which was slightly darker than the hair on his head. “What… what are you going to do to me?” I licked my lips, which had become very dry indeed. 

His hands dropped to his trousers, and he undid the fastening. “I’m going to finish what I started in the Jaguar!” 

Of course. I should have realized he only saw me as an annoyance to be squashed. “Why?” I spat. “To teach me a lesson?” I bounced up and tried to dodge around him, determined to reach the door. 

“Singe, you’re a bloody fool, do you know that?” Robert stretched out his arm and snagged my waist, tossing me back onto the bed with insulting ease. He stood there naked, his hands on his hips, and I was astonished at how rapidly he had undressed. “Now get your clothes off this second, or you will not be happy with my reaction!” 

I worried my lower lip and peeked up at him through my lashes, wondering if I dared to challenge him. He was breathing harshly. My gaze dropped to below his waist, and I could see how aroused he was. "Oh!" I shivered with the returning need to have him touch me. 

Hesitantly, I sat up and took the hem of my jumper in my hands. With a rather unsteady movement it was off and placed carefully aside. As I began to unbutton my shirt, Robert snarled something under his breath and seized a foot, pulling my shoe off. He threw it over his shoulder. The sock followed, and he went to work on my other foot. Before I could begin undoing my cuff buttons, both feet were bare. 

My shirt hung open, and I felt his eyes on my chest. He reached out and touched the small gold hoop that pierced my left nipple, the reminder of my attempt at debauchery. “Oh, you are a bad boy!” He curled his tongue in it and tugged gently, and made a pleased sound when my nipple tightened in reaction. 

And then he was unfastening my trousers, pushing me backwards and stripping them down off my legs. “Very nice knickers, St. John!” 

I blushed. Why had I worn the leopard-patterned undergarments? His eyes were hot as he hooked his thumbs in them and dragged them down off my hips. My penis stood stiffly erect, pre come beading at the tip. He leaned forward, his fisted hands on either side of my hips, and blew on it, smiling as he watched it quiver, then gathered the drops with a broad swipe of his tongue. I whimpered and struggled to keep my hips from thrusting up. 

“It’s all right, Singe.” Robert fondled the spot where my thigh and groin met.  “Do you want to fuck my mouth?” He was enjoying driving me close to the edge. He licked the thick vein that ran along the underside of my penis, nibbled at the flared head, dipped into the slit. 

I squeezed my eyes shut and let him do as he wanted with me. I did not recognize the sounds I was making, gasps and cries and a babble of words that made no sense.  

Robert pushed my thighs back and apart, searching for the tight ring of muscle that guarded my opening. “Such a pretty pink rosebud,” he murmured hoarsely as he pressed a finger against it. At some point he must have slicked his fingers, because he had no trouble breaching my anus. He pushed the questing finger deeper into me and went back to licking his way to the head of my penis. When he finally took it between his lips, I groaned in relief, and he hummed approval as he tasted another drop of pre come. 

He suckled strongly on my penis, and I was so concentrated on what he was making me feel that I didn’t realize he had gotten two fingers into me. He used a scissoring motion to stretch me. I tried to thrust down onto them, needing to take them in deeper, but Robert would not permit me to move. I was hovering on the brink of climax, and Robert kept me there, not affording me the final push that would bring me to orgasm. 

I began to swear at him, my head thrashing, my nails digging into his shoulders. “Motherfucking son of a cocksucking, syphilitic, bitch bastard whore! Robert, goddamn you!” I was almost weeping with need. “Please!” 

He curled his fingers and found some place inside me, and at the same time scraped my length with his teeth. With a hoarse cry I came. 

Robert released me from the hot, wet cavern of his mouth, and I was still coming as he flipped me onto my front. He pulled me up onto my knees, made a wide space between them for himself. He had covered his cock with lubricant, and I hadn’t even been aware. He brought the broad head to my spasming hole. If I hadn’t been lost in the throws of such a powerful orgasm, I would have tensed and made his entry difficult. As it was, with one easy undulating movement, he took me. But he had my hips angled in such a manner that each time he slid forward, he hit that spot. 

My fingers flexed helplessly in the bedspread. There was nothing I could do but submit to him. And then I had a blinding moment of clarity. I wanted to submit to him. I wanted his cock in my arse, doing what he was doing, targeting my prostate with a constant, pounding barrage of thrusts. The ripples of my climax went on, and on, and on… 

I gradually returned to consciousness as a damp washcloth cleaned my semen from my torso. “Come on, Sleeping Beauty!” Light pats struck first one cheek and then the other. “Do you need a kiss to wake you up?” 

“That would make you Prince Charming.” I stretched luxuriously, flinching a bit as I felt the ache deep in my bowels. Warm lips brushed over mine briefly, and my eyes flew open in surprise. Robert’s blue eyes bored into mine. His long fingers curved over my cheek and trapped my chin. My gaze dropped to his lips, and I couldn’t catch my breath. I tipped my head back, offering him my mouth. 

“St. John…” 

“Kiss me, Robert,” I whispered, threading my fingers through his hair, urging his face closer. “Kiss me...” //…as if you love me.// 

His arms went around me, and he rolled over. My legs straddled his, and as his hand fondled my buttocks, I arched into his touch. Tiny sounds escaped my mouth, and he swallowed them as he kissed me. 

We lay in that manner for a time, and then Robert hauled me off to the bath. “This will soak out some of the aches,” he said, eying the bruises that were blossoming on my thighs and hips. 

I leaned against him and nibbled on his collarbone. “It is all right, Robert. You did not hurt me, I promise you. I always did mark easily.” 

He seemed as if he might challenge that assertion, but really, how would he know that this was another legacy from my mother's side of the family? He filled the claw-footed tub with water just hot enough to be soothing. I lounged back and closed my eyes, not at all surprised when he joined me, or to find he was roused once more. Robert reached for me, urging me to crouch above him. He positioned me over his hips, gripped my waist and pulled me down onto his cock. Once again I had not been paying attention. He had liberally coated himself with lubricant, and his cock slid effortlessly into me. He bent his knees up to support my back, and then encouraged me to ride him to completion. 

The water was starting to cool. Robert dried me off, making sure I didn't slip on the water that had splashed out of the tub and onto the floor, and then led me back to bed. He settled me into it and cradled me in his arms. As I fell asleep, I felt him pull the bedspread over us, forming a snug cocoon. 

Some time later, I woke from the light doze, violently aroused. My legs were spread wide, and my lover was about to enter me once more. His fingers were twined with mine, and he nipped my shoulder. “Tell me you love me, St. John.” The head of his cock dipped into my hole, and then moved teasingly away, and I wriggled my arse, trying to get him seated in me. “Tell me that you love me,” he insisted. 

“I love you!” I whimpered in surrender. 

“I knew it, Singe!” His voice was thick with satisfaction as he took me. I was too engulfed by passion to wonder about that then. But not afterwards when I waited for him to say something, and instead listened as his breathing evened out into sleep. 

No, definitely not afterwards. I spent the remainder of the night staring dry-eyed into the shadows. //Stupid, stupid fool!// I castigated myself.  //Will you never learn?//  He had made me admit I cared for him, but had said nothing of his feelings for me. Apparently I was just another conquest. 

I glanced at the illuminated dial of the bedside clock. It was almost six. Robert Dorincort was sleeping soundly beside me, sprawled on his stomach, one broad palm resting possessively on a buttock. I eased away from him, swung my legs over the side of the bed, and sat there with my head in my heads, shivering a little in the early morning chill. 

He had got what he wanted, what I had so willingly given him. Would he still want me now? I doubted it. There was a burning at the back of my throat, but I refused to let tears fall. I was an Ashford, after all. 

I rose and limped around the room, gathering my clothing, then took them into the bath and dressed. I would make myself some breakfast and leave. Robert owed me breakfast, if nothing else. 

I did not permit myself a final glance back at him before I opened the door and stepped out into the hallway. 


I knew I was dreaming. It was the day when my world fell apart, and I was back on that boat, fighting to free myself. The men who had hoped to take my father, had wound up with his son. Although men died by the bloody ruins that were my hands, there were too many for me to successfully escape. I was dragged down to the owner’s cabin and cuffed to his bunk. I knew what was coming, the first of many rapes, and I forced myself to relax muscles that, if tensed, would have resulted in tearing. 

Halliwell, who claimed to be a former lover of one of my fathers, buried his prick in my ass, but before he could plunge into me more than a couple of times, furious growls split the silence of the Amazonian afternoon. A wolf appeared, tore the man’s head off and freed my restraints. 

He was a big wolf, larger than any I had seen before. I pulled him up onto my body, and he settled himself there. For some reason I wasn't surprised when I felt his cock start to emerge from its sheath and slide along my belly. Mine swelled in response, and I curled my legs up to grip his thick body, uncaring that I was leaving myself open to him. His cock slid into me, and I felt safe and claimed, but I was too exhausted to do anything more than accept being possessed by him. 

Within the dream we fell asleep. 

And after that first nightmare, each time something threatened to enter my dreams, the wolf would growl softly, hackles raised, ears flattened in warning, and would keep it from me. 


I roused languidly from the best sleep I had had since the Black Lagoon, surprised to find myself naked. That was how I usually slept, but I had kept the green boxers on out of respect for my host. I had never felt so warm. It was as if I was covered with a fur throw. Usually, at some point during any given night, I would start to feel cold, but not this time. I stretched, then gave a start when I realized that Drew was lying on top of me, also naked. His dick was hard, and a pool of pre come had oozed onto my belly. My cock emerged from its sheath and glided along his length. He reached between us and took my dick in his hand, holding it snug against his. Then he began to rock against me, and my eyes flew open to stare into his. 

Drew was awake, and he watched me, gathering the precome in his hand and slowly beginning to jerk us simultaneously. My hips rose to drive my flesh more firmly into the grip of his hand. He rubbed his thumb over the head of my cock, teasing the slit, pressing down on it, and I shivered and moaned under him, welcoming his touch. 

He bent his head to capture the sound with his mouth, and his tongue dipped past my lips, licking at my tongue. 

It was hot under the blankets, and he was starting to sweat. I ran my hands over his back, memorizing the way his muscles flowed from shoulder to ass. Rhythmically, I squeezed the taut globes of his buttocks, parting them, stroking over the crevice until I could find his hole. I freed my mouth and stuck a finger into it, then went back to kissing him as I pressed my spit-slicked finger against the puckered opening steadily, until it finally relaxed enough for it to slide in. 

Drew backed up to take it deeper. His movements became erratic. He  bit down on my lip and growled, and began to spill himself over me. The heat of his semen was like a benison, a forgiveness of what I had done and what had been done to me, and with a final jerk I came as well. 

I sank bonelessly under him. He raised his hand to my mouth and smeared the essence of our combined climax over my mouth. My lips parted, but before I could lick them clean, his mouth brushed over mine, and together we shared the unique taste. 

He hummed in satisfaction and trailed kisses along my cheek to my ear. "You're mine, Da'ric," he whispered. "By all the gods, for all eternity, you are mine!" His breathing smoothed out, and he fell asleep. I remained awake, considering the nightmare, the wolf who had rescued me from it, and the words Drew had spoken. 

I was about to slip out of bed to go in search of a washcloth, but changed my mind. Instead, I rolled him onto his back, straddled his hips, and began to lick him, following the hair that covered his groin to where it arrowed past his navel and up the center of his body. "Mmm." Drew murmured. He arched into my touch but didn't wake. With a final lick, I rose and went into the bathroom to tidy myself up. 


I put on the clothes I had worn the night before. The jeans hung low on my hips, but there was nothing I could do about that now. I went downstairs to find something to eat. 

If anyone spotted me wandering the halls, that was the excuse I would give. And in about twenty minutes, it would even be true. I looked forward to the time when I could eat normally again. Small meals didn't stress my stomach, but they didn't keep me filled for long. 

I went to the console table on the first floor where the telephone was, pulled the paper from my pocket and dialed the number. After a couple of rings, someone picked up. "Pronto?" a gravelly voice spoke in my ear.

“È casa di questo Marconi?” 

"Yeah, this is Mr. Marconi’s house." 

"È il sig. Marconi là?" 

"Speak English, wouldja, Mac? Yeah, he's here. Whaddaya want?" 

I sighed in relief. Unless I made love with him, I’d just about expended my knowledge of Italian. "I understand he's interested in the snake boy." 

"You got that right! He's really interested in that freak! Hold on a minute. Hey, Boss! That call you been waitin’ for!” 

“This is Marconi.” The voice was cultured, with no trace of an accent. “What do you know of my exhibit?” he asked smoothly. 

“I know you’re going to wish like hell you’d never had dealings with Paul Sarone.” 

“What?" That got to him. "Who is this? What are you talking about?” 

“I’m not drugged anymore, Marconi. And I’ll be coming after you.” Quietly I set the receiver down. He would never know where the threat would come from. I had learned from watching the predators of the Amazon. 

Suddenly I was starved. My step was jaunty as I walked down the hall and opened the door to the kitchen. Someone was already in there, and I came to an abrupt halt, watching as the redhead poked at the sausages that were in a frying pan. “Oh! Good morning. I didn’t realize anyone else was up. You’re St. John, aren’t you?” 

Green eyes looked me over from toe to crown before absurdly long lashes shielded their sadness. “Yes, I am Ashford.” 


“I know who you are. Andrew Dorincort’s love.” The smile he sent in my direction was wobbly, and it didn’t reach his eyes. He brought his gaze back to the frying pan, wincing as fat popped and spattered, burning his hand. “I apologize for my behavior last evening. You need not worry. I will not stand in your way.” 

“Thank you. I think.” Obviously there was something there, but I had no idea what it might be. 

Just as obviously, he was not about to tell me. “You are going to want some breakfast, I imagine.” He went to the breadbox, removed a couple of slices of bread, and dropped them into the toaster. His movements were stiff, a far cry from the easy grace I remembered from the night before. I remembered, too, how Drew’s brother had carried him up the stairs. 

“Did he hurt you?” I demanded. 

“I beg your pardon?”  His expression became shocked. “You think Robin forced me? You… He… I…” Color started from the neck of his jumper and swept up to his hairline, and he shook his head. “Robin would never hurt me!” he stated vehemently. He dropped his eyes. “Not physically, an any rate.” 

This wasn't my business, but I was quite willing to make it my business. I was about to tell him that when the door burst open, and Drew’s brother Robin stalked in. His attention was focused so completely on the younger man that he didn’t even realize they had an audience. “What in bloody hell do you think you’re about, St. John?” he growled. 

St. John turned back to the stove. “Are you blind, Robert? I am making myself some breakfast. And… and then I shall return home.” 

“You know that’s not what I’m talking about! Why did you leave my bed?” Robin stepped closer, but there was still some distance between the two men. I watched with interest, keeping still so they wouldn’t be disturbed. And truthfully, I was curious. It had been a very long time since I had been so entertained. 

“You had your fun. You bug… fuck… had your bloody way with me! I should think you would be pleased to see the back of me.” He was unaware that the other man was now not more than a foot away from him. 

“Ah, Singe,” Robin said in a caressing tone. “I loved seeing the back of you. You’ve got a very fine arse!” The distance between them was closed, and he ran his palm over that part of his lover’s anatomy. 

St. John jumped and blushed bright scarlet. “That is not what I meant, and you quite know it, Robert Dorincort!” he declared hotly. He turned and his body brushed up against the other man’s. “Oh!” He found himself trapped between Robin and the stove. Robin took the younger man’s arms and placed them around his neck, then gave his seat a solid smack. 

“Let me make this perfectly plain, St. John Ashford. I did not bugger you or fuck you. I made love to you! Couldn’t you tell the difference?” Robin tightened his arms. “And if you hadn’t sneaked out of my bed like a thief in the night, that’s what we… would be… doing… right… now!” With each word, he planted teasing kisses on St. John’s mouth, which evolved into something very serious. 

Well, it seemed I wouldn't be called upon to ride to the rescue. I had to reach down and adjust myself. “Ah hem.” I cleared my throat. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but those sausages are about to burn.” 

Robin started and wheeled around, placing the young man behind him as if to protect him. I wondered if either of them realized how telling that was. 

"Bloody hell! How long have you been there?" 

I checked the clock on the wall. "About half an hour?" 

"You might have said something!" 

"Anything in particular? You two were rather engrossed, you know." The toast had popped up, and I gingerly placed it on a plate and blew on my fingers before buttering it. "Sorry. I'll leave you to get your affair sorted out." 

Robin snarled at me, looking remarkably like his older brother in spite of the difference in coloring. "If Drew hadn't decided he fancied you, I'd…" 

"You'd what, Limey?" I flexed the hand that was free of the plate and idly ran the claws over my jaw. "If you weren't his brother, I'd…" 

"Robert!" St. John pinched his lover's hip. "We have company!" 

We followed his gaze and saw the youngest of Drew's brothers standing there, briskly rubbing his scalp and yawning. Just behind him was a petite figure. Champagne blonde hair swung past her waist in luxurious waves. Her eyes were an unusual shade of pale gold. She was wearing a dressing gown that swamped her figure, and she clutched at Alan’s sleeve. 

"Good morning, everyone. Has the snow stopped? Papa and Pere said something about getting an early start for Dorincort Place. They were right behind me, but stopped to speak to Drew about something. Thom was seeing about waking Cilla up. I don't think she's a morning person. Ariane was already getting dressed. Is breakfast ready? I'm starved. Bree's hungry, too!" He smiled sunnily at us, and reached for the girl's hand, drawing her forward. "This is Bree!" 

"Well, Bree." Robin was the only one who didn't appear to be surprised by the sudden appearance of the girl in our midst. "Would you care to join us for breakfast?" 

Alan led her to the table, and she sat down and offered a tentative smile. “Thank you,” she said in a lightly accented voice. “I would like that very much.” 

Her eyes met mine. “Would you care for a piece of toast?” And I offered her the plate. 


Note: #### indicates a change in POV. This starts from Robin’s POV and segues to St. John’s. 

Part 13


“Wolves mate once, and they mate for life.” My brother, Drew, was the one who told me that when I was a randy teen, constantly beset by urges I wanted to explore. I worried about that, because I had no intention of remaining a virgin until the one I was waiting for finally decided to show up. Drew had ruffled my hair. “Have your fun, Robin. I know it sounds clichéd, but when the right one comes along, you’ll find you have no desire for anyone else.” 

The years passed, and I wondered if I’d ever find my mate. I took my degree and got a job in a prestigious firm in the City. Now here I was at the age of twenty-three, still playing the field, scoring with every blond or brunet who took my fancy. There were no strings. We had a good time, and then parted on the best of terms. Brunets were my current preference, until the day Drew brought home the Honorable St. John Ashford, the viscount’s son. I found myself hard and aching every time the redhead was near. If Drew had wanted him, truly wanted him, I would have backed off, would have kept my hands to myself. But it turned out my older brother wanted someone totally different. I could see the start of it in Marconi’s House of Oddities, when he became fascinated by the patterned skin and vertical-pupiled eyes of the snake boy, and I knew I’d have a clear path at the younger man. 

I’d kissed St. John Ashford in my car, and I’d liked it. I’d liked the way he kissed me back even more. He’d been all over me, making these needy little whimpering sounds that drove me wild. I’d moved too fast, though, and he’d pulled out of my arms as if I’d threatened his virtue. 

When I hauled St. John up to my bed later that evening, I anticipated nothing more than an enjoyable romp in the sack. We’d fuck each other senseless, enjoy ourselves, and eventually go on to a new lover. 

I pleasured him orally, taught his arse to accept my cock, and had him twice more after that. The thought of anyone else having him, of St. John allowing anyone else to plunder that tight, narrow passage of his, returned and had me frowning, and it abruptly occurred to me that I’d finally found my mate. I nipped his shoulder sharply, needing to make sure he was aware who was making love to him. “Tell me that you love me, St. John!” I demanded. He pleaded to be allowed to come, thrashing his head on my pillow, his movements becoming frantic. He wanted, needed me deep inside him.  “Tell me that you love me!” 

His eyes snapped open, limpid green pools, and then he arched up, trying to take more of me into his no longer virgin arse. He yielded with a moaned, “I love you!” 

“I knew it, Singe!” I growled in triumph. I fastened my lips to the spot on his throat beneath which blood beat heavily, and I began to suckle it. He was so lost in passion that he didn’t realize I was marking him as mine. And when my semen poured into him, I claimed him as mine inside as well. 

I fell asleep, for the first time emotionally content as well as physically sated. 


My stomach was letting me know in no uncertain terms that it was unhappy I hadn’t taken the time to fill it the night before. I should have eaten before I carried St. John off to bed. 

I rolled over and groaned appreciatively as I stretched the kinks out of my body. What a bloody fantastic experience!  “Come here, Singe.” I reached for my lover. 

He wasn’t there, and I realized his side of the bed was not only empty, but cool as well. He had been gone for some time. 

I sat up and swept my gaze over the room, and scowled. The clothing, which I had pulled from his body and thrown carelessly aside, was gone. Bugger. An uneasy feeling began to crawl up my spine. Surely if he’d only gone downstairs for some breakfast he’d have borrowed my dressing gown, which hung behind the bathroom door, and not gotten completely dressed? 

I jumped out of bed, nearly tripping and falling on my face when my legs tangled in the covers. It took me two minutes flat to find and drag on a pair of jeans and a jumper. 

Where had he gone? How could he leave? He’d admitted he loved me! 

I started to become angry. If that wasn’t just like the spoiled, pain in the arse viscount’s son! When I got my hands on St. John Ashford, I intended to finally follow my brother’s advice, yank down his trousers, and wallop his bare bum. 

I didn’t even bother with shoes and socks, just pelted down the stair as a sudden thought hit me: if I didn’t find him, and soon, St. John could be out the door. The bleeding wanker! Did he really think that after last night I would let him walk out of my life? 

The odor of frying sausages was coming from the back of the house. Mrs. Harris never came in this early. Papa and Pere refused to go near the stove, and none of my siblings could cook worth a damn. I knew from the night before that St. John knew his way around the kitchen. The single bite of omelet I’d been able to snatch had been delicious. That had to be him in there! 

I was so relieved that he was still here that my anger escalated to nail-biting fury. I slapped the door open and stormed into the kitchen. And there he was, staring at me in surprise and... something else? “What in bloody hell do you think you’re about, St. John?” 

He turned his back on me. “Are you blind, Robert? I am making myself some breakfast. And… and then I shall return home.” 

“You know that’s not what I’m talking about! Why did you leave my bed?” Hadn’t I taken care not to hurt him? Hadn’t I made sure his climax had been mind-blowing? What in bloody hell was wrong with the boy? I could feel the wolf in me begin emerging, something which rarely happened. St. John was mine, he belonged to me, and he was going nowhere! I approached him on bare, silent feet. He stood before the stove, desultorily moving the sausages from one side of the pan to the other. 

“You had your fun.” He avoided my eyes, the anger in his tone warring with… hurt? “You bug… fuck… had your bloody way with me! I should think you would be pleased to see the back of me.” 

I had to remember he’d been a virgin. “Ah, Singe.” Virgins tended to be skittish. My gaze dropped down to his backside, and I strove for a little levity.  “I loved seeing the back of you. You’ve got a very fine arse!” My eyes were fastened to the lovely curve of his buttocks, and I couldn’t resist reaching out a palm to fondle them. 

He started, and warm color crept up his cheeks. “That is not what I meant, and you quite know it, Robert Dorincort!” For just a second he leaned back into my touch. I slid my hands into his trouser pockets and traced the shape of his hardening cock. And then he stiffened. That was the only warning I had, and there was barely time to get my hands free before he whirled around to confront me. I made sure I was close enough for him to feel my arousal. He had to know how much I wanted him. “Oh!” 

Singe’s eyes were enormous as he stared into my face, and he licked his lips. I ran my tongue over my lips as well, wanting nothing so much as to catch him over my shoulder as I had the night before, take him back up the stairs, and make passionate love to him. 

“Let me make this perfectly plain, St. John Ashford.” My heart was pounding quick-time in my chest, and I was starting to pant. “I did not bugger you or fuck you. I made love to you! Couldn’t you tell the difference? And if you hadn’t sneaked out of my bed like a thief in the night, that’s what we… ” I tipped his chin up and dropped a kiss on his parted lips. “… would be… ” I pressed a butterfly kiss to those tempting lips again. “… doing … ” I drew my mouth away, to run my tongue over his lips, taking little dips past them, then rubbed against them lightly. “… right … ” I groaned softly as his mouth softened under mine and responded. “… now!” Before I could deepen the teasing kisses, there was a slight cough behind me. 

“I’m sorry to interrupt, but those sausages are about to burn.” 

I spun around, shoving St. John behind me without thinking about it. How could I not have been aware that someone else had entered the kitchen? "Bloody hell! How long have you been there?" 

It was Drew’s snake boy, Da’ric. He glanced at the clock, then murmured, "About half an hour?" 

And I hadn’t seen him? "You might have said something!" I snapped, livid not only with him for surprising me, but also with myself for permitting myself to be so distracted. 

"Anything in particular? You two were rather engrossed, you know. Sorry. I'll leave you to get your affair sorted out." 

I clenched my fingers, wanting to close them around the patterned skin of his throat. If I’d been entertaining any thoughts of shoving St. John’s trousers out of the way and having him over the breakfast table, Da’ric’s appearance put paid to that. "If Drew hadn't decided he fancied you, I'd…" I was shocked to see claws emerge from his knuckles, and felt my hackles rise. My eyes hadn't deceived me in that cellar. This… creature was dangerous! 

He was also very attractive, in an exotic kind of way. I could rather understand what Drew saw in him. As I had told him, I’d have been tempted to sample the delights of Da’ric’s smooth-skinned body if my brother hadn’t made his intentions so clearly known, to me at least. Well, that was unimportant, as it seemed I was no longer in the running for a brief fling, or indeed, any sort of fling. 

"You'd what, Limey? If you weren't his brother, I'd…" 

"Robert!" St. John dug his fingers into my hip to get my attention, and I jerked. "We have company!" 

Alan was standing there, an unfamiliar young girl trying to hide behind him. "Good morning, everyone,” he said as he tried to blink the sleep from his eyes.  “Has the snow stopped? Papa and Pere said something about getting an early start for Dorincort Place. They were right behind me, but stopped to speak to Drew about something. Thom was seeing about waking Cilla up. I don't think she's a morning person. Ariane was already getting dressed. Is breakfast ready? I'm starved. Bree's hungry, too! This is Bree!" His smile was positively beaming. 

"Well, Bree." I was pleased the young shapeshifter had finally been willing to change. It seemed Drew had been right, but then, he was the eldest, and usually was. "Would you care to join us for breakfast?" 

“Thank you. I would like that very much.” She sat down and tucked the skirts of the dressing gown primly around her knees. 

“Would you care for a piece of toast?” Drew’s snake boy handed her the plate. He looked up to catch me watching him, and he returned my gaze calmly. 

He couldn’t have known when Drew came up behind him and slid an arm over his shoulder. Drew had the silent movements of a predator; if I hadn’t been looking, I mightn’t have known he had joined us. Yet the snake boy did not exhibit any surprise; he simply leaned into my brother’s embrace. I didn't think he would allow just anyone to touch him, and I wondered how he could have known that Drew was the one to touch him. 

Drew looked from me to St. John, who was busying himself draining the sausages on some brown paper. I cursed the color I felt rising in my cheeks, but he simply said, “So St. John is the one who cooks so well? Maybe you should think of keeping him, Robin.” 

St. John threw the fork down so hard it actually bounced off the stove and onto the floor. “Oh, really? Well, I do not think so, Andrew Dorincort! I would not have your brother if… if…” His lower lip quivered, but then he firmed it and glowered at me. “If he was wrapped in gilt paper and tied with a silver ribbon!” He shoved his way past Drew, and the door swung shut. 

I winked at Drew and picked up a sausage, neatly biting off the end. Drew raised an eyebrow. “Sounds as if he’s heading for the front door, Robin.” 

The smile vanished from my face. “Bloody hell! St. John!” I started after him. 

Drew touched my shoulder. “Is he the one, Robin?” I nodded, and he grinned his approval. “Then don’t let him get away!” His arm went around the young man who stood beside him and tightened. 

The front door was slamming shut as I bolted into the hall. Bloody hell, St. John could move fast when I didn’t want him to! I ran out onto the walk, which was covered with melting snow, swearing as my bare toes came into contact with the cold, wet stuff. “Singe!” He dove into the black cab that had answered his hail, and he never looked back. I swore again and wheeled back inside, tearing through the hallway and hitting the stair on the run, taking them two and three at a time, and skidding on a throw rug that covered the smooth pine floor. 

In my room, I dragged on a pair of socks and stuffed my feet into half boots. St. John’d be heading for home; he had to be heading for home. If he wasn’t, I suddenly realized, I had no idea where he might go. I ran out of my room and down the stairs, yelling, “Drew!” I tugged on a jacket. My older brother appeared at the back of the house, Da’ric at his shoulder. “St. John’s gone, and I don’t have time to get my Jag; I’m taking the MG.” Without a word, he tossed me the keys to his little sports car, and I was out the door. 


As I entered the cab, I felt as if every nerve ending was exposed and screaming in protest. I told the cabbie where I wanted to go. He took one look at my face through his rearview mirror, then tramped on the pedal, and the little vehicle leaped forward. I gazed unseeing out the side window, and tried not to think. 

The cabbie pulled up in front of the townhouse that had once belonged to a scion of the Duke of Wellington. Father had been inordinately pleased to have snapped up such a prize. 

I paid him and got out, surprised to see a van parked in front of the house, and Willis and Brimley, Father’s butler and valet, removing luggage from it. The family was home already? I did not think that was a good thing. 

The house was still a trifle chill from having been unoccupied for a bit, and I shivered as I entered the large entryway. Perhaps I would be able to reach my room without drawing Father’s attention to myself. 

No such luck, of course. “*St. John*!” He stood in the doorway of his study, his expression so furious, his face so flushed I wondered if he would have an attack of apoplexy. I had no doubt the vacation in the little principality on the Mediterranean had proved unsuccessful. 

“Good morning, Father. I… how was your trip?”  

His color became even more vitriolic, and he stormed across the room to pour himself a brandy. He handed one to my brother Germaine, as well, and I hoped that he would forget he had summoned me. “We were turned down! He didn’t even do me the courtesy of telling me to my face; he had his secretary do it! Thanked me for the offer and turned me down!” he snarled. “As if an Ashford was not suitable for his precious daughter! Not suitable, indeed! Her mother was an American actress! Why, Germaine could have his choice of any titled female in all of Europe! It is not as if he were you!” I was unable to prevent my reaction to that statement; I flinched, and his attention returned to me. His eyes narrowed, and he studied me intently. “Where have you been?” 

For a moment I feared he would know what I had done the night before. I purposely kept my response vague. “The weather was rather inclement last night, Father. I stayed with friends.” 

“The Dorincorts?” My shoulders slumped, and he sneered. “They are no friends to the Ashfords, boy!” He reached for my chin and tilted my head sharply to the side. “What is this?” 

“Oh, my word! St. John has a hickey!” Germaine’s eyes glittered with cruel delight. 

“A what?” Father thundered. 

“A love bite, sir!” 

Father turned to look in fond exasperation at his oldest son. “I am aware it is a love bite, Germaine, dear boy.” His expression darkened as he turned to me once more. “What I would like to know is how it got on St. John’s throat. And who put it there.” He scarcely gave me a moment to answer. “Nothing to say, boy? Well, no real need. I imagine Errol Dorincort will not have much to say either when I tell him his oldest whelp is a pederast!” 

There was a pounding on the front door, but no one paid it any heed, knowing Willis would answer it. 

“Andrew Dorincort did not touch me, has never shown the least interest in touching me,” I managed to say through dry lips. 

“Then who, you miserable bent get?” he shouted. “Who buggered you?” I didn’t see the blow coming, although I should have expected it. I staggered backward and tripped over a valise that had been left in the middle of the Oriental rug. I stared up at him in shock; he had never stuck me before. He wound his fingers in my collar and half pulled me up to my knees, then yanked it away from my neck. “Who marked you in this manner?” He raised his hand to strike me again. I closed my eyes and waited, but this time the blow didn’t fall. Instead, there was a low, deep-throated growl, and Father gasped in pain. My eyes flew open. 

Standing with my father’s wrist in a bone-shattering grip was Robert Dorincort. “Robert?” I whispered, stunned to find him there. 

The look he turned on Father was almost savage. “St. John is mine, Lord Ashford. Hurt him again…” 

Father tried to jerk his hand free, and I could see Robert’s grip tighten even more. “I have heard tales of you, you sodomite!” Father spat. “I will have you brought before the High Court!” He threw me away from him, and Robert released Father’s hand. 

“And you will declare before a magistrate that I, your son, had consensual sexual congress with another man?” He glared at me, and I knew how he hated the words ‘your son’. His fingers clenched impotently as he tried to restore the blood flow to his abused hand, but he remained silent. I shook my head in defeat. “No, I did not think so.” 

“Get out of my house, you catamite!” He took a step toward me. Robert stiffened, as if about to attack, and Father appeared to think better of it. He glowered at him. And me. “You are no longer welcome here, St. John!” 

“Was I ever welcome here?” 

“Take your things and get out!” 

Wearily, I climbed to my feet and walked out of the room. Behind me I heard Robert say something, but I was too distressed to try to distinguish his words. I climbed the stairs to my room. 

Under my bed was the suitcase I had used when I went away to school. I knelt down to retrieve it, and winced as blood seemed to rush to the bruise on my cheek. It throbbed with each beat of my heart. 

I swung the suitcase onto the bed and opened it, then went to the dresser and took a small cedar box from the back of the bottom drawer. Once that was safely stowed away, I began to pack my clothes. By the time I was finished, there wasn’t room for much else. 

I went to my bookcase and chewed on my lower lip. All I could take with me were just a tattered, well-loved copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and a hardcover edition of The Three Musketeers that had belonged to Uncle James, and which he had given me when I was thirteen. 

In a corner of the bookshelf was my Paddington Bear. I ran gentle fingers over the shapeless red hat, and the worn nap of his brown fur. Father had never approved of that gift from Mama, but he so seldom came into my room that when he ordered me to throw it away, he just assumed I had obeyed him. Paddington was coming with me, no matter what anyone thought. I hugged him to me, then tucked him into a corner of the suitcase and snapped it shut. 

I glanced one final time around the room, taking in the record albums stacked neatly by the small stereo, and the prizes I had taken when I had shown my Welsh pony. I walked out of the room, closed the door, and went down the stairs, to find Robert waiting there. I came to an abrupt halt. 

“Is that all you’re bringing?” He gestured toward my suitcase. 

I did not want him to know how frightened I was. I had a useless degree, very little money, and in spite of what I had told my father, no friends. I shrugged. “It contains all I have need of for the immediate future.” Let him think I would be returning for what was left behind, although I had no doubt that it would all wind up in the trash. 

“Wait in the car,” he ordered. I obeyed simply because I was in such shock I had not had time to think where I should go. 

His Jaguar was not at the curb, and I stood there, not sure what to do. Within a few minutes, Robert exited the house. He saw my confusion and smiled rather grimly. 

“You didn’t give me much time to go ‘round for the Jag. I had to borrow Drew’s MG.” He took the suitcase and placed it in the tight space behind the passenger’s seat. “Get in, Singe.” 

I had been in that car only the day before, only Andrew had been driving then. He had come to pick me up for brunch before that ill-fated outing to the House of Oddities, where apparently he had found the person he was looking for, who was obviously not me. I leaned my head back against the headrest. “Where are you taking me?” 

“Home.” His home, I had none. 

“That is not necessary, Robert. You may let me off anywhere. I shall be fine, I assure you.” 

“It is necessary, St. John. Don’t you get it? You’re mine.” 

“Your whore, you mean?” After all, what else was I good for? 

He had stopped for a light, and turned his head to glare at me. I could not maintain that look. 

“For how long?” A few days? A few weeks? Robert was speaking, but I paid him no heed. Perhaps I should take him up on his offer. He seemed to enjoy fucking me. If he wanted my body, I could barter that in exchange for the time it would take for me to decide what I should do. I thought fleetingly of the Thames, then dismissed it. I would not give Father the satisfaction. 

We arrived at Robert’s house more quickly than I had anticipated. He got out of the little car and grabbed my suitcase. I stepped out of the car, and his palm was warm against my back, even through the coat I wore. 

Robert opened the door. “Remind me to get you a key,” he murmured, then raised his voice to shout, “We’re back!” He ushered me into the sitting room, and I chose a chair and sat down. In a matter of moments, the rest of his family joined us. 

His grandfathers frowned when they saw me, and I kept my face blank with an effort. Why was Robert doing this to me? I waited for them to start tearing into me, as Father would have. 

And then Mr. Sayer said, “That’s a nasty looking bruise. I’ll get some ice.” 

And Mr. Fortescue-Smythe said, “Shall I fetch my horsewhip, Robin? Whoever did that to the boy deserves to be flogged!” 

And one by one, his brothers came up to me and shook my hand. I tried to keep my jaw from gaping in bewilderment. Andrew was the last. “Welcome to the family, St. John.” He smiled warmly as he spoke. “I can see you have no idea what’s happening, but welcome. Papa, give Robin the icepack. He can take care of St. John. And let him know what he’s in for. Robin,” he hugged his brother, then stepped back and gave him a friendly slap on the back. “You’d better get this sorted out, the sooner the better. All right, you lot! You need to be off if you’re to get to Dorincort Place any time today!” 

Just like that, Robert and I were left alone. He knelt before the chair and gently held the ice to the swelling on my cheek, frowning when I couldn’t prevent a flinch. “I’m sorry, Singe. That must hurt like the very devil! Has he done that to you before?” 

“Struck me? No. He never… ” I bit my lip. How could I confess to someone who had known nothing but love from his family that my own father did not even have much use for me? “You have to understand; Father has been under a deal of pressure. He hoped to secure a plum bride for my brother, but that fell through.” I tried to look away, but Robert turned my face back toward him. 

“Ah, love… ” 

Love?” That was the first time he had ever called me anything but my name, and I could feel a tide of warmth rise from my lower body to my hairline. I became annoyed with myself. Did I want to be loved so badly that the use of an endearment would cause me to melt? 

“Of course.” Robert ran his hand through my hair and brought a lock to his cheek, then rubbed it over his lips. 

“There is no ‘of course’ about it!” 

“St. John, I told you that I loved you.” His tone was so patient I wanted to smack him. 

“I beg your pardon? When might that have been?” I yanked my hair out of his grip. “Ouch!” 

He had the gall to look perplexed. “Why, after that last time we made love. You told me you loved me, and I said… ” Robert paused, searching his mind. 

“You said, and I quote, ‘I knew it, Singe!’” 

“And then I said… ” 

“What do you mean, ‘And then you said?’” I interrupted. “And then you fell asleep!” 

“Bugger! I didn’t tell you I loved you?” I stared at him, affronted. “Well, bugger!” 

“You are starting to repeat yourself, Robert!” 

“Ah, baby, I’m sorry.” He pulled me off the chair and into his arms. I was pressed against his firm, hard-muscled body, and he tried to kiss me. 

I managed to avoid his lips. “Oh, no,” I huffed. “Do not think that you can call me pretty names and kiss me into idiocy, and I will just roll over for you!” 

Robert hummed softly and licked the side of my neck, nipping the skin just below my jaw. I moaned, and a breath bathed the spot in response to it. “Will you really, green eyes?” His penis was hard against mine, and I moaned again and sought his mouth. 

He said he loved me, but I did not believe him. If my own family could not love me, how could he? But I knew he wanted me, and that would have to be enough. 

Robert stood, drawing me up with him. He raised my hand to his mouth, his tongue probing the spaces between my fingers, and I shivered. “Come on, St. John. Let’s get you settled in.” 


Note: The song Ariane was singing was, of course, Afternoon Delight, by The Starlight Vocal Band, which hit # 1 in the States in the summer of '76. This is from Da”s POV. 


Part 14


The Dorincorts bantered over St. John Ashford, and I wondered that they didn’t see his hurt. He erupted in a display of emotion that I could tell from the others’ reactions was unusual for him. “I would not have your brother,” he snapped at Drew, “if… if… if he was wrapped in gilt paper and tied with a silver ribbon!” He stormed out of the room. 

Drew appeared to be listening to something only he could hear, and then he said, “Sounds as if he’s heading for the front door, Robin.” 

“Bloody hell!” Robin actually appeared alarmed. Perhaps he really cared for the younger man. “St. John!” 

“Is he the one, Robin?” Drew examined his brother’s pale face, and accepted his abrupt nod as confirmation of… whatever. “Then don’t let him get away!” 

Robin Dorincort bolted out of the kitchen, chasing after St. John. 

I couldn't take my eyes off my lover. He stood there, a satisfied smile on his face. I had told my friend Den on the phone that he was drop dead gorgeous, with thick, soft, blue-black hair that felt like silk on my body, and velvet dark eyes that seemed willing to devour me. 

But this was moving fast. I’d never had a reaction like that to anyone, not even Den, and I was determined to be at least a little cautious. 

Drew pulled me to him, his eyes hot, and all thoughts of caution disappeared. I wanted to rub myself against the hard cock I could feel nudging my abdomen, and nuzzle the rough stubble of his morning beard. I completely forgot we had an audience, and that it wouldn’t do for his family to see how aroused he had me, so early in the morning. 

“Drew!” Robin’s shout echoed through the first floor of the house. “St. John’s gone, and I don’t have time to get my Jag; I’m taking the MG.” 

Drew took the keys from a hook on the wall. As if on a lead, I followed him into the hallway, observing as he threw them to his brother. The door slammed shut behind Robin. “Well.” Drew ran his hand up my arm to my shoulder. “Let’s go have some breakfast, shall we?” 

His palm was warm on my shoulder, and I was hungry for something other than food. But I put that aside for the time being and went with him back into the kitchen. He came to a halt when he saw his family simply standing around, waiting expectantly. “So why isn’t anyone cooking?” 

“Crisis is over, Drew. It’s your turn!” There was muffled laughter, and they all tried to look innocent. 

Mr. Sayer handed me a mug of strong tea heavily sweetened with honey. “For your throat, young man. I noticed last night you seemed a trifle hoarse.” 

“Thank you, sir.” I relished the warmth of the tea and the smoothness of the honey sliding down my throat, while I watched my lover’s interaction with his family. 

And I missed my family. 

Drew glanced at me, his gaze sympathetic, and then he turned back to his siblings. His eyebrow rose until it seemed to be reaching for the hair that spilled over his forehead, but his family knew him too well to take his frown seriously; they just went about setting the table, and handed him the eggs. He prepared to crack the first egg into the frying pan. 

“Whoa, hold on a second! Where’re the bowls?” 

“Oh, don’t need a bowl, Yank.” Briskly, competently, he tapped the egg against the edge of the frying pan. Unfortunately, that was the last evidence of competence he exhibited. His tap was just a tad too brisk for the fragile brown shell to survive, and it shattered into the pan, mingling bits of shell with the broken yolk. He swore and scowled at it. 

“Well, this is interesting." With an effort, I hid how entertained I was. “Why don’t you get me a bowl now, Drew?” I cleaned the mess out of the frying pan, scraping it into the trash. There had been too much grease in there anyway. Then I put it back on the burner with some butter, waiting until it melted, so the eggs wouldn’t stick. I cracked the eggs into the bowl that Drew handed me, making sure none of them had gone bad, and carefully poured them into the skillet. They sizzled as the translucent whites turned opaque. “How do you like ‘em, Brit? Sunny side up? Over easy? I don’t do scrambled. Scrambled’s for people who can’t break an egg properly,” I teased softly, for his ears only. 

“I like them up and runny.” Drew toasted some bread, then came over to lounge against the counter next to me. 

There was a chorus of, 'Oh, yucks!' from the younger members of his family. The two older gentlemen simply chuckled, amused at what was obviously a running joke. What a very comfortable family this was. 

I turned my attention back to the stove. “How runny?” The eggs were setting nicely. 

He peered into the frying pan. “Another couple of seconds should do it.” Now he was watching me expectantly. 

“Fine by me,” I shrugged and slid the eggs onto the plate he held out. 

“This doesn’t repulse you?” He dipped his toast into the very liquid yolk, which had barely had a chance to warm, and offered it to me. 

Without taking it from him, I leaned forward and bit off a corner. “Should it?”  His expression became disgruntled, and I had to laugh out loud. When I had still been the tadpole that my fathers liked to call me, Dad had taught me the way to eat an egg. It had to be partially swallowed. Once in the throat, the shell was crushed, but not broken, by the rhythmic rippling of throat muscles. Then the yolk and white could slide down, and the collapsed shell could be spat out whole. My grandparents had turned green the first time they had seen me do it. Drew wasn’t looking too enthused, either. I stopped laughing, but couldn't smother the grin. “No, Brit. Nothing you do could repulse me.” 

He became very serious. “That’s a sweeping statement, Da'. You really don’t know much about me.” 

“I know that somehow you kept the nightmares at bay," I said matter-of-factly as I poured more eggs into the pan, deciding I might as well cook breakfast for everyone. "I know you held me while I grieved for my fathers, and you held me while I rejoiced they were alive. What more do I need to know?” 

He poured us both another cup of tea. "That's just it, Da'ric. There is something else I have to tell you." 

"Tell him later, Drew. After he's fed us! You don’t want to scare him off!" There hadn't been time the night before for me to be introduced to the rest of Drew's siblings. Which brother was this? 

"Thom," Drew said quietly. He nodded toward the young man who was handing a pretty, young woman a plate with the eggs done over well, and I smiled my thanks. "That's Cilla, his fiancée, with him. Ariane. Alan. You know Bree. Papa and Pere." 

“Mr. Sayer and Mr. Fortescue-Smythe.” Mr. Sayer had told me the night before. 

“Papa and Pere,” Drew insisted, startling me. 

"But surely they won't want me to call them that." I was just a guest in this house. Drew frowned at me, but before he could say anything, the gentleman with the eye patch did. 

"Do you have some objection to that, young man?" Mr. Fortescue-Smythe asked with interest. 

"Well, no, of course not, sir. But I'm not a member of your family." That was greeted with a hoot of laughter. "Drew? Am I missing something?" 

"Couple of things, actually, Yank.” His hand was fondling my shoulder again. Why had I never realized my shoulder could be such an erogenous zone? I made myself listen to what he was saying. “You rescued my sister." 

“If I hadn't been there, I’m quite sure Ariane would have rescued herself; she seems a very resourceful young girl.” 

Drew made a rude sound, showing what he thought of a sister who placed herself into a situation that required that resourcefulness. Then he continued, "You kept Bryanna safe." Well, yeah, I had to concede that one. //And…// 

"And? Wait a minute, that’s more than ‘a couple of things.’" 

Somehow, I could feel the warmth of his amusement, as if it was caressing my mind. //And you weren't afraid of the wolf.// 

I brushed that aside. Why should I fear the beast who had freed me? 

//You let the wolf make love to you.// 

I shivered as I recalled the feel of the wolf sliding into my ephemeral body in my sleep. //All he did was…// I knew I was blushing. //That was just a dream!// It suddenly dawned on me that this conversation was no longer verbal, and my mouth dropped open. I could do that with my fathers, but I didn’t think I would ever meet anyone else that I could communicate with in that manner. 

“Guess you have now, Yank. As I said, you’re part of the family!” I was stunned. My gaze went from one to the other of the people in the kitchen, and they all nodded agreement, then turned back to their meal. My lover grinned into my startled eyes. “Besides, you can cook!” 

Before I could come up with a biting retort, Thom spoke up. "So, what's the buzz on St. John, Drew?" 

“He can cook, too,” I muttered, and Drew winked at me. 

“It appears that he is part of the family, too.” 

“Bloody hell, Drew! St. John Ashford?” 

Drew shrugged. “Robin wants him.” 

“Robin wants…? Drew, you were dating St. John!” 

I stared at Drew in surprise. He was? So that was what the young man meant when he said he wouldn’t stand in the way. 

“Thom, I was dating Cilla also.” 

Well… well, damn! Was Drew dating everyone in the free world? 

His lips curled into a cheeky grin. “They all want me!” he murmured innocently, flirting his lashes. Then he turned back to his brother, serious once more. “Robin told me that St. John is the one.” 

“His mate?” Thom looked astounded. “But… the bloody viscount’s bloody son?” 

“The mind boggles!” Alan finally found his tongue to say. 

“Thomas, Alan.”  Mr. Fortescue-Smythe, Pere, regarded them steadily. “If you refuse to acknowledge St. John, Robin will be very hurt. Don’t make him have to choose between his mate and you; I have the feeling you will not win.” His good eye roved over his grandchildren, and he waited until they all acquiesced, however reluctantly. 

I worried my lower lip. From what I was able to gather, Drew had gone from Cilla to St. John, and now to me, in a very short period of time. I didn't have any experience with dating. Den and I had just sort of fallen into our relationship, but I had never been courted, nor had I courted anyone. I was uncertain how to react. “Ow!” I bit my lip too hard. 


“What?” My tone was surly, but I couldn’t help it. I'd never been jealous before, either, and I didn't like it. I clenched my fist fitfully, and the claws emerged and retracted. 

His fingers were on my chin, and I had no choice but to meet his gaze. “Cilla is perfect for Thom. St. John is who Robin wants. There was never a possibility that I would have either one of them. Don’t you understand?” 

“Understand what?” I shifted uneasily. 

//I was waiting for you, Yank!// 

And what could I say to that? It was the perfect answer to a question I hadn’t even realized I had asked. 


Once breakfast was done, the dishes were stacked in the sink, and everyone went back to their rooms to finish getting dressed and ready to leave. 

"I’m going to take you shopping, Yank. You need some properly fitted clothes.” Drew examined my feet, which were encased in the knitted tube things he had given me the night before, and he grinned. “I think I’d better search my brothers’ cupboards to see if I can find you some footwear suitable for going outdoors. Nothing of mine will fit you.” 

“I’ll be right along, Brit. I don’t feel comfortable leaving all this for your Mrs. Harris.” It wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t the whole truth. I kept my mind blank with an effort. “My grandmother has a cook who tends to go ballistic if we leave a mess in her kitchen.” 

He stroked the curve of my ass and teased my lips with light kisses. “Sure I can’t talk you into coming upstairs with me right now, Da'? Mrs. Harris really won’t be too cross if you leave the dishes for her.” I wanted him, but… I shook my head, and he sighed. With a last squeeze of my butt, he turned to climb the stairs. He looked over his shoulder with a smile, but when he saw my eyes riveted to the movement of his ass under the corduroy of his trousers, he came back to me. This time his kiss was hard, a brand of ownership, and it was all I could do to keep my resolve to put my plan of action into effect. With a needy groan he released me, and ran up the stairs to his bedroom. 

As soon as he was out of sight, instead of going back into the kitchen, I went to the phone in the hallway and picked up the directory that was on a shelf under it. I sent a cautious glance to the sunlit hallway of the floor above, making sure it was deserted, then began searching for the listing for the Battered Cruiser, a pub I recalled hearing Titch mention. A number of Marconi’s people hung out there, scoring drugs as well as downing shooters. It took several tries, but I finally found the correct one, located down by the London docks. There was a pad and pencil by the phone for jotting down messages, and I scribbled the address on the paper with Marconi’s home phone and quickly replaced the book. 

I began making a mental list of what I would require to bait my trap. A pea jacket, if I could find one in battered enough condition, with the smell of the sea clinging to it. Bell-bottoms were still in fashion; the problem would be to find trousers with a buttoned plaquet, like sailors wore. The hardest things were the doubloons and pieces of eight. I'd need a leather pouch of them, as many as I could afford, and I'd need them as authentic as possible. 

I went back into the kitchen. The mindless repetition of washing dishes was relaxing, and the tension that had threatened me with a headache seeped out of the base of my skull. 

A shout from the front hall interrupted my reverie. "We’re back!” Robin Dorincort’s voice announced his return with St. John Ashford. 

I watched from the kitchen doorway as Drew’s brother urged St. John into the sitting room. I was intrigued to see that he carried a suitcase. The rest of the family filed in to hear what Robin had to say, and eventually to welcome his choice into the family. 

Before too long they all exited, except for Robin and St. John. Drew came to where I stood. "I hope Robin gets that straightened out soon. I have the feeling St. John thinks he's just a diversion." 

"And he isn't?" 

"Da'," he said patiently, "Dorincorts mate for life. St. John belongs to Robin.” //Just as you belong to me.// 

Dumbfounded, I had no response to that last bit that seemed to bury itself in my mind as I had a fleeting image of his cock burying itself in my body. I would have reached for him, but just then Ariane came running down the stairs and skidded to a halt before her oldest brother, and I was spared the necessity of answering. “What did I miss?” 

Drew smiled down at her. “St. John is part of the family now.” She made a moue of dismay. “Behave, brat.” He tugged a lock of her fair hair. 

She sighed dramatically. “Very well. But if he calls me ‘Anne,’ I shall kick him in the…” she peeked at her brother through her lashes and amended what she had been about to say, “… in the shins!” 

“I think you’ll be better off letting Robin handle him, peanut. Now, do you have everything packed? Papa said something about getting started within the quarter hour.” 

“Yes. Cilla helped. I like her, Drew. Thom said he’s bringing her down to stay with us for a few days. I’m glad we’re keeping her.” 

“And I’m sure in a little while you’ll feel the same way about St. John as well.” Drew checked his wristwatch. 

“Perhaps.” Ariane gave me a saucy grin. “I’m glad we’re keeping Da’, too!” She bounced up the stairs, singing softly, “‘Gonna find my baby, gonna hold her tight, gonna grab some afternoon delight. My motto’s always been, ‘when it’s right, it’s right’…’ I’ll just be half a tick, Pere,” she said as she passed her grandfather, who was carrying two suitcases. 

“Here, let me help you with those, Pere.” Drew reached for the cases. 

“Drew, was your little sister just singing about shagging?” His tone of voice was shocked, but his eye was twinkling. 

Drew gave a shout of laughter. “She’s a minx, isn’t she? And where did you hear that expression, Pere?” 

“Are you insinuating that I might possibly be behind the times, my boy?” He glanced back up the stairs. “And if you tell Papa you heard me using it, I shall…” A wicked smile crossed his face. “I shall show Da’ that picture of you on the fur rug.” 

“Not that!" he beseeched, chuckling. "Very well, my lips are sealed, Pere! I’m going to bring ‘round the Land Rover. Don’t tell Da’ all my secrets.” 

“No,” Pere mused. “That’s for you to tell him.” 


Robin and St. John were in locked in Robin's bedroom, but otherwise we were alone in the townhouse. 

“Here, Da’.” Drew displayed a pair of sunglasses. He slid them up onto my face, settling the earpieces over my ears, which he fondled for a moment. “I wish you didn’t need to wear these. I love your eyes!” 

I had been resigned for years to the need to keep my eyes hidden whenever I went out in public, but no one, not even Den, had told me he liked my eyes. Of course my family, especially my Gram, had said I had beautiful eyes, but they loved me; that was their job. “Really?” 

“I’ve never seen eyes that color, that beautiful burnished gold that's the color of old coins.” He threaded his fingers in my hair, letting the strands sift through them. “And the way your pupils expand and contract in response to what I’m saying." He ran the tip of his index finger over the curve of my upper lip. "Right now I can see how much my words alone are arousing you!” 

Was this what it felt like to be wooed? “Kiss me!” 

His breath sighed across my lips, but then he stepped back. “If we don’t leave right now, I’m going to take you to bed and keep you there for a week!" I moaned, but didn’t press the issue. The only thing that gave me any consolation was the fact that Drew looked as turned on as I felt. “I found these for you as well.” He picked up a pair of sneakers. “They’re Alan’s! He’s only fifteen, but would you believe he has the largest feet of us all?” 

“Lucky for me.” I tried to push that almost kiss out of my mind and sat down on the edge of the bed. “I’d freeze my toes off otherwise.” 

“Well, put ‘em on and let’s get hopping. You’d better wear a jacket of mine. It might be a trifle large on you, but I think it should fit you better than anything of Robin’s.” That wasn't the only reason why he wanted me to wear something of his. I could read it in the way he eyed my body, lazily, contemplatively.

“I… I really appreciate you lending me the money to get some clothes that fit, Drew." I was trying to conceal the almost desperate need that had risen in me.  "My grandmother would send the clothes she keeps for me in California, but they wouldn’t be nearly warm enough for winter in London.” I gazed up at him, and caught him regarding me in turn. 

“Your grandmother has your clothes in California? Is that where you live?" 

“Only during the academic year. Otherwise I live with my fathers in this little spot near the headwaters of the Amazon." I thought about the Black Lagoon, and sighed. "It's the most beautiful place on Earth!" Briskly, I worked my feet into the sneakers. 

"So what do you wear at home?" 

"In the Black Lagoon? Usually nothing.” I stood up and walked across the room, wincing as, in spite of their size, the sneakers pinched my toes. “Drew? Is something wrong?” 

“You’re wicked, do you know that, Da’ric? You tell me something like that…” He shook his head and began to laugh. “Let’s go, or we’ll never get out of here!” And he led me down the stairs. 


Drew handed me his jacket, and I slid my arms into the sleeves. It was large through the shoulders and torso, but apparently we had the same reach, because the sleeves fit well. 

We took the MG, which Robin had left parked in front of the townhouse, and Drew drove first to his bootmaker, where my feet were measured, and we were assured I would have shoes that fit my unusual requirements within a couple of days. Then he took me to Harrods. 

"No, stop!" I protested. He had already bought me three bags of jeans and casual tops, and now he placed another pile of trousers and shirts, these dressier, in my arms. "I won't be here long enough to wear all of these!" 

He turned pale. "What do you mean?" 

"Well, I'm… I'll come back, of course, to visit, if you'd like, but Drew, I'm only going to be here until my grandparents can get a copy of my passport to me. I have to go home."

"Yes? And what about your revenge?" 

I nearly choked. "What?" 

"Don't tell me you don't know what I'm talking about, Da'ric. Someone hurt you, hurt your fathers. You're going to make them pay." 

"Drew…" Was he going to try to stop me? I swore when I realized my thoughts were leaking out, and he was reading me as clearly as a book. 

"I have no intention of getting in your way, Da'."  He took the armful of clothes from me, brought them to a counter, and laid them down. "Didn't I make that clear yesterday?" Jesus god, was it only yesterday that we met? "But I know you plan to do something. You need to be gotten up to look like a merchant sailor. You need eighteenth century Spanish coins. I can help you get whatever you need! And when you're done, then we can decide if you'll be leaving." //But don't count on it!// 

I was stunned into silence. I didn't want him involved. The men I'd be dealing with were dangerous in the extreme. If anything happened to Drew, I wasn't sure how I'd be able to live with myself. 

"Yank." His tone was caressing. He pulled out his wallet and handed the bills to the woman behind the cash register. "I can take care of myself, better than you can imagine. I can take care of you, Da', if you'll let me. Now let me take you to tea, and I'll tell you my secrets."


Note: m/f mentioned here. Solicitors handle the cases in the lower courts, barristers in the higher ones, where, say, murder trials would be conducted. Rohypnol is the date rape drug, also known as roofies. Rat-arsed is very drunk. Acción del jefe, hombre= boss action, man. This is Callisto Marconi’s POV.


Part 15



The woman under me went still, but I kept fucking her. 


Close. I was so close! Just a few more strokes… 


“Fongule! You don’t want to live anymore, Gino?” I pulled out of the woman and rolled over, taking the sheet with me and leaving her exposed to my henchman’s gaze. She scrabbled for a handhold on the sheet. I scowled at her, but let her have a corner to drape over her crotch. 

“Sorry, Boss. You got a phone call.” 

I froze and regarded him with wary eyes. “Who?” I demanded. The last time he had interrupted me, the call had been from someone who had the gall to threaten me. ‘I’m not drugged any more, Marconi,’ the hoarse voice on the other end of the line had said. ‘And I’ll be coming after you.’ I licked my lips. 

“Uh… it ain’t him, Boss.” 

I spat out another curse, even more vile than the one that had preceded it, and Gino turned pale. I shoved the woman out of bed, and she landed on her arse, her legs splayed, giving Gino an eyeful, if he cared to look. He didn’t look. He knew better. The last fool who had tried that left my employ, clutching the place where his balls had been. 

“Fucking bitch whore! Get the fuck out of here!” She threw a scared look my way, and scurried into the adjoining bath, trying to shield her nakedness. I extended my hand, and Gino tentatively dropped the cordless phone into it. 


“Mr. Marconi?” 


“Good morning, sir. This is George Halliday, of...” 

“So?” Who the fuck was George Halliday, and why did he think I’d care? “Listen, you ... I give you two seconds to explain why you call me so early, and then I fucking hang up on you.” 

He was silent for a moment, and when he spoke again, his tone was frigid. “I am Senior Claims Adjuster with Regal Insurance.” 

The insurance company that held the policy on my House of Oddities. I became more cautious. “Ah. Mr. Halliday. So sorry, I did not recognize your name.” I cleared my throat and smoothed out the gutter accent that tended to become noticeable when I became irritated. “I am not at my best this hour of the morning.” I tried to sound conciliatory. It would be in my own best interest not to piss this man off. 

“Really? How sad for you.” His voice was still cold, and I gritted my teeth. “I have called to inform you that your claim is being held up pending the completion of the investigation into the fire that destroyed your building! I’m so sorry.” But I could tell he wasn’t, the fucking mook. “Good day to you, Mr. … er… Macaroni.” The cocksucker hung up on me, not even giving me a chance to press for details. And then I realized he’d got my name wrong, as well, and I flung the phone across the room. It shattered against the wall, and I bared my teeth, gratified by the destruction I had caused. 

Gino ducked, then tried to pretend he hadn’t. “Uh… trouble, Boss?” 

I glared at him. “Go tell Angelina I want my breakfast.” Shit! Shit! Shit! I ran my hands through my hair. 

It had seemed like such a good idea at the time. Burn down the House of Oddities. That would conceal all the irregularities with the books, the fact that it had been losing me money hand over fist. My partners would never know. I’d collect the insurance money, and get out of the hole that had been sucking me deeper and deeper. 

I got out of bed and went into the bathroom. The woman was still in there. I had forgotten all about the cunt. Hastily she started pulling her clothes on. I observed the bite marks and bruises I had placed on her body with savage satisfaction. 

She watched me from the corner of her eyes. I went to the toilet and took my dick in my hand, then started to piss. She ran out, and I heard the bedroom door slam shut. I laughed. Fucking whore. 

I flushed and washed my hands. I considered the events of Boxing Day. I trusted Titch and Simmons about as far as I could throw the motherfuckers. Gino had gone to the House of Oddities to pick up the day's take. He'd found the two bodies in the cellar, and had called me. I'd beaten it into him that he wasn't ever to act on his own. Ever. 

Titch and Simmons weren’t the smartest men I employed; their drawbacks sometimes outweighed their assets. Titch had a weakness for little girls, and this last time I’d had to get him out of London for number of weeks, until the problem had been dealt with. Simmons liked to dose his dates with rohypnol, and I’d had to bail him out of trouble more times than I liked to think. But still, they'd had their uses, although at the moment I'd be fucked if I could think of one. 

How the fuck had they wound up dead? I shuddered as I remembered the look of absolute terror on Titch’s face. Next to him was the body of the yellow Burmese python I'd bought on a whim years ago, when I'd made my first big score. It matched the tattoo I’d gotten that coiled on my back. I'd lost interest in the snake fairly soon, but I never got rid of anything I owned. And it eventually proved to be a decent enough attraction in the House of Oddities. 

I thought of how Simmons had lain on the cement floor, his chest ripped open, his heart stuffed obscenely in his mouth. There hadn’t been as much blood as I would have expected from such vicious wounds. 

Maybe I should have called in the pigs, the cops, to investigate. After all, I hadn’t been there, but my solicitor convinced me it would be best to play least in sight. And my barrister had heartily agreed. “Cally, they do not like you. Your men have been bringing you to their notice too much for my liking. So far you’ve been able to avoid being brought up on any kind of charges, but they’re watching you, my friend, and so is Mr. Shaw.” Shaw, the man who ran all the illegal enterprises in the British Isles. I shivered. If I could ever be afraid of anyone, it would be Mr. Shaw. 

And if the insurance investigators started asking questions, someone was sure to spill the beans about the snake boy. They might even learn about the young wolf. I'd taken one look at its thick, luxurious fur, and decided I'd have it for my own. The beast was still small, but another six months or a year, and the coat would be prime for skinning. I wanted it, and I had my men out looking for it. I knew they'd find it. 

If it ever came out they’d been brought into this country illegally, I stood a good chance of being deported. I started to swear, first in English, then in Italian, and finally in Greek, my grandmother’s language. Where the fuck had that fucking snake boy disappeared to? 

This was all Juan Zolo’s fault. If he hadn’t brought me that freak, I wouldn’t be in this bind. He was back in town; he’d called me the other night to get together for dinner and drinks, and no doubt try to show me more pictures of that puttana, that whore, he called his fiancée. I’d put him off with some flimsy excuse. A thought occurred to me, and I began to smile. Now might be a good time to get together with my old mate.


He came in. “Yeah, Boss?” 

I suddenly realized I was naked. “Goddamn it, gimme a minute to put some goddamned clothes on!” 

“Sorry, Boss.” He stood there with his eyes closed. Fucking moron! 

My eyes dropped down his body. Fucking moron, with a really nice dick! I could see the outline of his dick as it lay snug behind the fabric of his jeans. 

Fuck! Only fags thought like that. I grabbed the sheet, wrapped it around my waist, and scowled at him. 

“Jesus, Gino, you’re an arse! Okay, you can open your eyes now. Now, you said you wanted to be my lieutenant.” 

His eyes lit up. “Yeah!” It was like a prayer. 

“What will you do to become my lieutenant?” 

“I don’t understand, Boss. Whatever you say, I’ll do.” 

“So if I tell you to kill someone for me, you will?” 

If he had looked scared, I would have forgotten the whole idea. Or I would have gotten someone else to do it. Fuck, I would have done it myself. Instead, “Who, Boss?” 

“Zolo. I want his fucking head blown off.” 


My dick jumped. Murder and mayhem. What a satisfying combination! “Get me the phone.” 

Gino went over to where the cordless phone lay on the floor in tiny pieces, and I sighed. The man had more looks than brains. If he hadn’t been family, my sister’s husband’s cousin’s son, I never would have taken him on. 

“Get me a phone that works, Gino.” 

“Oh, right, Boss. Sure thing.” 

I shook my head and started having second thoughts about having him whack the Colombian. He brought me another phone, and I dialed the number Zolo had given me. It rang so many times that I was sure he must have gone out. Just before I was ready to hang up, a sleepy voice answered the phone. “Hola.” 

“Juan? Johnny, is that you?” 

“Yeah. Who… Cally? Hey, hombre, how they shaking?” I heard him strike a match. No doubt he was still smoking those foul-smelling cigarillos of his. “You going to meet me for dinner finally?” 

“Sure, Johnny. Your choice, you name it. And how about stopping by the Battered Cruiser first? We can have a couple of pints, and then go to dinner.” 

“It’s going to be acción del jefe, hombre. See you around six?” 

“Sounds good, amigo. Ciao.” 

“Hasta la vista, man.” 

Arsehole. I looked at Gino. “You come down there with me. He’ll expect me to have a bodyguard.” Zolo didn’t have much of a head for alcohol. I’d fill him full of warm, British beer and get him shit-faced. Then I’d come up with some excuse to leave and let Gino deal with him after I was safely away.  

“Okay, Boss. I’ll go see if Angelina’s got breakfast ready yet.” He left, and remembered to shut the door behind him. 

Angelina was slower than molasses in January, but she was a pretty good cook, which was why I didn’t get rid of her. I’d take a shower, and by the time I was finished, maybe my breakfast would be ready. If it wasn’t, maybe I would fire her arse. Maybe I’d even fuck it. I was getting tired of people who didn’t do as I said, when I said. 

I went back into the bathroom and turned on the water, testing it against my wrist to make sure the temperature was just right, then got under the spray. My dick was hard again, reminding me that the bitch who’d been in my bed hadn’t gotten me off. Next time I’d fuck her arse. I liked that better anyway. I wasn’t a fag; I just liked arses better than cunts. The only reason why I hadn’t done it that way this time was because I… I wanted a little variation, was all. But she must have fucked the entire Royal Navy, her cunt was so loose. Gino coulda got his dick in there with mine, and there woulda been room to spare for our balls as well. I closed my eyes and stroked my dick, thinking what it would feel like if Gino’s dick was rubbing against mine as we fucked the bitch. 

What the fuck? Only fags thought like that! 

I grabbed the backbrush and scrubbed it over my body hard. I washed her smell off me, then I concentrated on my dick. It was uncut. My mama had wailed that I was gonna go to hell, but Papa just smacked her one in the kisser, and put his foot down. He was a real man. To bad he didn’t live long enough to see that I was as much a man as he was. 

I pulled the foreskin back and soaped the head, then began to jerk off while I played with my balls. The skin right behind them was really sensitive. It felt so good the coupla times I touched it, but it was too close to my arsehole, so I stopped doing that. Fags did that. 

There was a tap on the bathroom door. “Boss, breakfast.” 

“Leave it.” Fuck. Why couldn’t I come? I had to come. I had too much to do to play around, and I needed to come. Okay, just this once, I promised myself. I got my finger slick and slid it into my arsehole. Goddamn that felt good! I braced my other hand against the wall and began to pump my finger in and out. My dick was so hard it was standing up against my belly and leaking pre come. Another finger went in, and I closed my eyes and smiled, spreading my legs and bending slightly. “So good!” I crooned as I worked a third finger in. “That feels so fucking good!” 

“Boss, you okay? Breakfast is gettin’ cold!” 

“Merda! Yeah. I be right out,” I snarled. I leaned my weight harder against the wall, curling the fingers in my back passage and nailing my hot spot. I pictured Gino in front of me taking it up the arse, and my dick jerked and started spraying come all over the tile wall. 


Juan Zolo was already at the Battered Cruiser when I showed up at six, and I was pleased to see a half empty mug of beer before him. He grinned and rose, pulling me into a full-body hug, and pounded my back. “Is good to see you again, Cally. C’mon, have a beer. I’m already two ahead of you!” We sat down, and he reached for his wallet as he signaled to the barmaid. “Tres cervazas, muher!” 

I put my hand on his, stopping him. “This is on me, Johnny; your money is no good tonight!” I paid for the three beers. “See they keep coming,” I told Jenny, the barmaid. She looked into my eyes, then slid her gaze to a corner of the bar. She wanted to talk to me. I let her see I got her message. 

“Ah, mi amigo, esto es muy bueno.” 

“English, Johnny.” 

His grin was sotted. “This is very good beer, my friend. Warm, but good.” 

I was pleased it was affecting him already. “So, how you been?” 

“Good, good. Hey, you want to see my Carmelita? She is…” He grinned lasciviously and licked his lips. 

“Sure, Johnny. Sure.” It was the least I could do, make his last hours happy ones. “Just let me go shake hands with the unemployed. My back teeth are floating!” 

On the way to the loo, I stopped at the bar. Jenny murmured, “’alf a mo, petal,” to the customer she was chatting up, and came over to me. “Thought you might like to see this, Mr. M.” She slid a coin across the bar to me. 

“What the…?” It was a tarnished piece of silver. On one side was the bust of an extremely ugly woman with the year 1780 under it. On the back was a barely legible rendition of a Spanish coat of arms. “Is this real?” 

“Oh, yeah. I weren’t about to get stiffed by some scruffy seaman! And it’s worth an ‘ell of a lot more than the drinks he paid for! It’s a honest to gawd piece of eight!” I didn’t ask how she knew; Jenny had her sources. She grinned. “’Is mate weren’t none too ‘appy about it, Gov. Offered me a quid to buy it back, then tore a strip off ‘im when I said no.” 

“Did he… er… say where he had gotten it?” I turned it over and over in my fingers. There had to be more of these little beauties at home. 

“‘E did indeed, Gov! The scruffy one whined that they could get more of  ‘em, a whole cave of ‘em, all they ‘ad to do was find some’un who’d got enough lolly to finance a expedition an’ get ‘em back to that island off Brazil. Said their ship’d dropped anchor off shore to take on some fresh water, and that’s ‘ow they found the coins. The beach was littered with ‘em!” 

“What about their shipmates? Surely they would know of this place and want their cut?” 

“Nah. Scruffy one said it was just ‘im and ‘is mate who rowed to shore. ‘Is mate gave ‘im a shot then, and told ‘im to sharrup.” Her expression was avid. “I reckoned you’d be innerested.” 

“You reckoned right, Jenny. If they come back, or you hear anything more, you’re to get right in touch with me, is that clear?” I gave her a pound note. 

“Sure thing, Gov.” She tucked it into her cleavage. “Not like I could forget ‘em. The scruffy one were kinda cute, an’ if ‘e weren’t so gone on ‘is mate, I’da made a play for ‘im myself.” 

“‘Gone on his mate’?” I asked absently, not really paying attention. I was trying to think where I could get this appraised and which of the toffs who collected these coins would pay me the most for it. 

“Oh, yeah. ‘E couldn’t keep ‘is ‘ands off ‘im.” 

A couple of fags? I curled my lip in disgust, but she didn’t notice, she just nattered on. 

“Funny thing about ‘is mate. You know ‘ow it’s dark as a dungeon in ‘ere, even in daylight? Well, ‘e wore dark glasses.” 

Who fucking cared? I put the coin in my pocket. 

“’Ere, Gov! I’ll be short at the end of night, and the boss’ll clout me ear!” 

I tossed her a bill that would be more than enough to cover the scruffy seaman’s drinks, and she was smart enough not to ask for more. I went to the loo, and then I went back to my table. Gino was starting to get glassy-eyed from all the photos he had been forced to look at. He shot me a grateful glance; it was my turn to look at the pictures of Juan Zolo’s fat fiancée. 


The first thing I did when I got home was call Mr. Shaw. “Sir, I know I owe you some money, but I have a way to get it for you, with triple the interest.” I crossed my fingers. If I didn’t come up with that money… I didn’t want to think of the probable consequences. “If you’ll give me a little time, and advance me the dough…” 

“I’ll give you the time, Marconi.” Shaw was a big man, but his voice was a surprisingly light tenor. “Out of respect for your father, who was a good man. But you will finance this… whatever it is… yourself. I won’t lose any more money on you. And if I am not happy with my return, I will see that you will be even more unhappy. Have I made myself plain?” 

My mouth was dry. “Yes, sir.” 

“Good. Ciao, Cally.” Cold. The man’s tone was cold. I shuddered. 

Now all I had to do was wait for Gino to come home and tell me he’d killed that shit, Zolo, and then I could concentrate on finding that seaman and his… friend. 

I paced the rug in the front room, periodically glancing at the clock that sat ticking away on the mantle. I’d left the Battered Cruiser at least an hour and a half earlier. Every time he mentioned dinner, I’d order another round. Zolo had been well on his way to being rat-arsed, and he’d bought the flimsy excuse I’d given him for having to leave. “Oh, fuck. Johnny, I… uh… I forgot to feed the cat! I’ll just pop ‘round home and be right back.” I tossed some money onto the table and left him with Gino. 

That had been almost 7:30. I glanced at the clock again. It was pushing nine. 

It shouldn’t have taken that long to shove a shiv between Zolo’s ribs. Where the fuck was Gino? 

I took a bottle of whiskey from the drinks cupboard and poured myself three fingers. It burned going down, and when it hit my gut, it went to war with all the beer I had swilled. My fingers tightened on the glass in frustration, and I was about to pour myself another when the door at the back of the house opened and then closed. Footsteps sounded in the hall, and I tensed and reached for my gun. 

“Boss? You around?” 

“I’m in here!” I couldn’t wait and went to meet him. “It’s about fucking time! Is Zolo dead?” 

“Yeah, Boss.” Gino eyed the gun cautiously, and I put it away. He wasn’t smiling the way I had been after my first kill, but he wasn’t me, and I wasn’t going to worry about it. The prick who’d been the start of all my troubles had paid for it. 

My dick got hard at the thought of him dead. “Good work, Gino.” 

“Uh… Mr. Marconi?” 

“Fuck.” Gino never called me that unless the shit was about to hit the fan. “What went wrong?” 

He swallowed hard. “I didn’t kill him.” 

I began to grind my teeth. “But he is dead?” 

“Yeah, Mr. Marconi. I saw …” He took a breath. “Yeah.” 

“Then I don’t fucking care who did him in.” I went back into the front room, refilled my glass, and poured some whiskey into a glass for Gino. “Cheers.” I took a healthy swig, savoring the burn this time. “So, Gino. Tell me what happened.” He gulped down his drink and eyed the bottle hopefully. I was feeling expansive and splashed another couple of fingers into his glass as well as mine, then put the bottle back in the cupboard. “Tell me what happened.” 

He licked his lips. “I followed your instructions, Boss. I pretended to call you from the phone just outside the loo. When I got back to the table, I told Mr. Zolo that you were runnin’ a little late, that he should go on to the restaurant, and you’d meet him there. I know he heard me, ‘cause he nodded, but he was lookin’ over at this drunk who was standin’ near the bar. I touched his arm to get his attention. His eyes were almost crossed from all the beer he had. ‘You gonna be okay to drive, Mr. Zolo?’ I asked him. I know you like me to be polite to all your friends, Boss.” 

“Yeah, yeah. What happened then?” 

“We walked out to the car park in back. Well, I walked. He was kinda weavin’, and when the night air hit him, I thought he was gonna keel over. He had to lean against the wall for a minute. He really had a snootful, Boss!” Gino saw I wasn’t amused and wiped the grin off his face. He frowned, trying to think what he’d been saying. “The drunk followed us out, and looked confused. ‘Where’d the john go?’ he asked. He had a funny accent. ‘Did somebody steal the john?’ Sounded like he was ready to cry! The drunk staggered over to the wall and fumbled with his fly, like he was gonna take a whiz right there. Mr. Zolo, he started to laugh, kinda this high-pitched giggle? The drunk bumped into him. And all of a sudden his laugh changed to a sigh that ended in a hiccough. He fell over, holdin’ his belly, lookin’ kinda surprised. I moved his hands, and geez, Boss! His guts spilled out into his lap!” He swallowed hard. “I turned to tell the drunk to get help, but he was gone.” 

“So, the drunk killed him?” 

He nodded and finished his drink. “Does this mean I don’t get to be your lieutenant, Boss?” He looked so sad I thought he was going to cry. I thought for a minute of telling him no, just to see if I could make him cry, then reconsidered. After all, he was my sister’s husband’s cousin’s son. 

“Nah, Gino. You did good. You can be my lieutenant. Go get some rest now.” 

I listened to his footsteps down the hall and thought of gold doubloons and pieces of eight. 

Before too long, we’d be going on an ocean voyage. 


Note: Hooray, short for Hooray Henry, is a young male of the upper classes. Gut-rot is a stomachache. Should take you to the lyrics of The Butcher Boy. The version I knew had it Camden Town, instead of London Town, but you’ll get the idea. will show you what the coins look like.


Part 16


How did one tell the person who came into one’s life and stood one’s world on end that one had certain irregularities in one's family history? That the men one called the Papas had been lovers for years, and that they had raised one's mum from her infancy? And that that was the most normal part of what one had to confess? 

How did one say, “I am a shape-shifter. On nights when the moon is full and bright, I turn into a werewolf?” And sometimes, on other occasions as well? 

I was damned if I knew. 

I knew I had to tell Da'ric the truth about my family, the truth about me, but did I come right out and actually say I was a shape-shifter, a were? I had never told anyone, not the casual partners I had taken to my bed, and not the friends I had made through the years. 

I was still trying to find the right words when I took Da’ to The Sweet Shoppe, an exclusive shop that brewed the most exotic teas and offered desserts that were sinfully rich. They knew me there. 

“Morning, Mr. Dorincort. Your usual?” The woman behind the counter was pouring the Nilgiri tea I preferred and putting a slice of Black Forest Cake on a plate. She looked curiously at my companion, who was examining the contents of the case with something akin to wonder. 

“Thanks, Tess. I also want a Kashmiri Chai Green. I think you’ll enjoy this; it’s a nice blend of Indian green tea and spices,” I told Da’. “It’s quite good with milk and sugar. And I want these as well, Tess.” I pointed out a variety of French, German and Italian pastries. She placed them on a tray, along with the tea, and after I paid for them, I took the tray and led my lover to a small, out of the way table. 

“I'm really not much of a sweet eater, Drew,” Da' told me, regarding the sacher torts, napoleons, and cannolis I laid out before us. “Although I do have a weakness for honey ants. They're good; they taste like molasses.” 

“Excuse me?” Had I heard him correctly? I sliced a piece from each pastry and put them on a plate, then slid the plate to him. 

“Yes.” He tried a bite of cannoli. “Mmm.” The powdered sugar clung to his upper lip, and I wanted to lick it off. His eyes flew to mine and grew hot. I realized my mind was filled with the image of me licking that sugar from his mouth, and I was projecting that image to my lover. And suddenly, I could feel him bending over me while he ravaged my mouth. I shivered and licked my lips.  Da' sipped his tea. “I was on a field trip to the Chiricahua Mountains in southeast Arizona my freshman year at UC Davis.” What was he talking about?  It took me a moment to recapture the thread of the conversation.  “I could smell the colony odor that signaled the nest, although my instructor didn't believe me.” He gave me such a sweet smile that I knew he had to be teasing me. 

I responded to his smile absently, worried my lip, and became lost in my own thoughts once more. I had to tell him, but once I told him, everything would change. He would either think I was insane, or he would be horrified. Either way, he would walk out of my life. I began to add spoon after spoon of sugar to my tea, unaware at that point of what I was doing. 

Da’ reached out and laid his fingers on the back on my hand, stopping me. “Just tell me, Drew. It will be all right, I promise you. You're not alone; I won't let you be alone.” 

Involuntarily, I was drawn back in time to the day I had learned beyond a shadow of a doubt what I was, when Dad had said to me, “You are not alone in this.”  

Da' stared at me, his face suddenly becoming ashen. “You're a what?” Never having needed to shield my thoughts before, I had overlooked the necessity now, and he had seen the entire memory. My chair scraped backwards and almost tipped over in my haste to stand. I had to get away. I couldn't bear the horror I was sure to see in his eyes when he realized that he had been in bed with a werewolf. I couldn’t bear it. But before I could take a step, he snarled, “Stay. Put.”  

I had heard Da' diffident. I had heard him upset, and thoughtful and irritated. I had never heard him furious. “Da',” I began cautiously, moistening my lips. “I can explain.” I was the one who protected my siblings, who stood between them and danger, and yet now I was at a total loss.  “Let me explain. I… I know it's a surprise, but…” 

“Do you tip in this place?” 

“What? Oh, yes.” 

“Fine. Leave a tip and let's go.” 

I took some bills from my wallet, left them on the table, and followed Da' as he stalked from The Sweet Shoppe, anger evident in every step. He waited impatiently while I unlocked the MG, and then got in, pulling the door so it slammed shut behind him. I got behind the wheel and put the key in the ignition. “Da'…” 

“Not. One. Word.” He refused to look at me. “Drive us home.” 

Well, at least he wasn't telling me to take him to a hotel; he was willing to go back to my townhouse. The drive was accomplished in a seething silence. And amazingly enough, I found myself growing hard. By the time I parked the little sports car in the garage in the mews, and we walked around to the house, I was panting as if I had run a three-minute mile.  

We entered the house to find boxes stacked all over the hallway. Da' glanced at them, dismissed them, and said between tight lips, “Get upstairs.” 

I was carrying the bags with the clothes I had bought for him, and I paused outside my bedroom door. I expected that he wouldn't want to stay with me any more. “I'll put these in whichever room you choose, Da'.” 

Instead of going to another room, he reached around me, opened my door, and shoved me in. He slammed the door shut, and took off his jacket, throwing it aside. I dropped the bags and stared stupidly at him. He unbuttoned the shirt he was wearing and stripped it off, then went to work on his jeans. He stared down at Alan's trainers and growled. He'd have to get them off before he could remove his trousers. 

Da'ric finally stood before me naked. “Look at me, Drew.” I noted the patterned skin, the absence of nipples, and a navel, the cock sheathed snug against his groin. “I was born like this. You seem to be under the misapprehension that this is a birth defect. I get this from one of my fathers. Both my biological parents are male.” Images poured into my mind, and I staggered backward. “Why should I be upset that you are a werewolf, when I am half extraterrestrial?” 

“Why… why were you so angry then?” 

“I could feel your pain and confusion when your father told you of your heritage, and I wanted to hurt him for hurting you.” 


“And all right, yes, I got pissed off when it became obvious you expected me to run screaming in abject horror just because you're what you are.” 

“Ah. Just as you expect me now to throw you out of my house because I know exactly how different you are?” 

“Um…” the strong emotions left him, leaving him as deflated as a balloon with the air let out. He turned away. “Yeah, I guess.” He wasn't looking, so he didn't see when I started taking my clothes off. 

“I guess it's my turn to be pissed.” 

His face was turned toward me, but I couldn’t see his eyes; he was still wearing the sunglasses I had found for him. “But you expected…” 

“I've never told anyone.” 

“No one knows?” 

“Other than my family?” My fingers whispered over his cheeks. I removed the shaded lenses that shielded his eyes, and saw his pupils dilate with passion. “No. There was no one I ever trusted enough to tell.” I dropped the glasses and pushed him onto the bed. “I'm sorry, Da'. I wanted our first time to be slow and careful.” I followed him down to the bedspread, lying on top of him, relishing the feel of his smooth, supple skin against mine. His hair was like a black fall under my palms, cool and silky. My fingertips learned the curve of his skull, wandered over his ears, down the length of his throat, while my lips began a nibbling, sucking exploration of his shoulders and torso. 

Da”s skin was hot under my lips, hairless, and unmarred by a single flaw. I could feel his cock, hard and leaking beneath the weight of my hips, and I spread my legs on either side of his thighs. On my knees, I could easily raise his body higher in the bed. I worked my way down his body, and he shuddered. I nipped his hip, then turned my face, nuzzled his shaft, and inhaled deeply, almost drowning in the heated musk of his scent. 

My lover may have thought he had an idea where I was heading, but he realized he was wrong when I did nothing more than blow a puff of hot breath over the moisture that gathered at the tip of his cock. His hips jerked upward, and he buried his fingers in my hair, flexing them restlessly. 

He was trying to remain motionless, letting me explore his body without any interference. But his breathing was unsteady, coming in hitches and gasps, little moans and whimpers, and tremors rippled through him. 

I wriggled lower, licked and teased and traced the strongly defined lines of his thighs, pressed kisses to his knee, bent it to test the sleek muscle of his calf. Just a little further. I'd had a specific goal in mind all along, and now it was just a foot away. I flexed his foot and ran my tongue along the webbing between his big toe and the one next to it. 

He began to writhe, and I smiled as I probed the webbing between each toe. I finished exploring his right foot and went on to the left one and gave it similar treatment. When I came to the last little toe, I took it into my mouth and suckled it. Da' was moaning steadily. I was ready to administer the coup de gras: I brushed my tongue over the sole of his foot from his heel to his toes. He arched up off the bed with a muffled cry and came. 

I made my way back up his body and paused to drag my tongue up his cock and across the slit, learning his taste, a curious mixture of salty and sweet. His cock twitched, then started to retract into its sheath. My shoulders were under his thighs, and I pushed his legs back and apart, exposing his anus. I hurriedly opened the jar of lube, scooped up a fingerful and carefully worked it into him. Then I coated my cock and placed it at his opening. 

The ring of muscle was tight, and for a moment I was afraid Da' wasn't ready for me, afraid that after what had happened to him, he wouldn’t take me, but an abrupt twist, and the head of my cock slipped into him. I tried to hold myself still, letting him adjust to my size, but he arched up against me. “No! Don't stop!” Another inch slid in, and then another, until finally I was lodged so deeply inside him I could feel the beat of his blood through my cock. 

I twined our fingers together and looked down into the face of my lover. His eyes glowed with golden fire; long lashes fanned down to cover them. He licked lips bitten in an attempt to stifle his sounds of pleasure when he climaxed. 

“I want to hear you.” I dipped my head and licked the spattered come off his chest and neck. “Let me hear you.” He whimpered and gripped my waist with his knees, rocking up as if trying to take me even deeper into his body, but I kept my movements shallow. I'd tear out my own heart before I hurt him. 

From the sounds he was making, I realized that hurting him was something I didn’t need to worry about. He was hot and tight around me, squeezing me rhythmically. I withdrew until only the head of my cock was imprisoned by that guardian muscle. 

Did he have a prostate? I wasn't sure if his physiology matched a human male's. I thrust forward, and knew that I had found his sweet spot when he gave a surprised yelp and bit my shoulder. “I'm not made of glass, Drew. Fuck me.”  I growled, and began to fuck him in earnest. 

Da”s eyes opened and locked onto mine, and I felt as if I was tumbling helplessly into eternity. “Let go, Drew. I’ll catch you!” I took his mouth in a hungry kiss, and his arms and legs tightened, holding me in a possessive embrace as I rode him. And deep in the pleasure centers of my brain I felt him curl around me. The passion build steadily, layer upon layer. //mine. Mine. MINE!// With a howl I came, scalding his back passage, filling him with my semen. 

I collapsed onto him, trembling and panting heavily. Only then did I register how hot his body had grown. I luxuriated in that heat. 

After what seemed like forever, Da’ relaxed, his hands wandering lazily over my back, his legs sprawled wide, cradling me in the vee they formed. “Holy good god, Drew!” he murmured, his voice thick with satisfaction. “Any slower, any more careful, and I think you would have killed me!” 

I slid my arms around him and rolled us to the side. “I am the very model of a modern British gentlemen,” I teased drowsily. 

“Yeah?” He yawned hugely, and I couldn't help but yawn in sympathy. “Next time remind me to show you how we do it in the States.” 

“Take a nap, Yank. I'll take you to Camden Block Market later this afternoon. They have second-hand clothing, and we'll be sure to find the pea coats and trousers you need, as well as the coins. And if not there, then Portobello Road for sure.” 

Da' settled himself more firmly against me. “Cool.” He licked my collarbone, and we slipped into a light doze. 


I drove to Camden Town, humming The Butcher Boy, then softly singing the last couple of lines. “‘And in the middle, a snow white dove, to show the world I died for love.’ Kind of a silly thing to die for, don’t you think, Yank?” 

“Oh? Sure, if you say so, Drew.” He was looking out the passenger window. 

That wasn’t the answer I was hoping for. I was tempted to nudge his mind, to see what he was really thinking, but I let it go. Once we were done with this Marconi thing, I’d come up with a way to convince him to stay in England. I found a parking spot, and we went looking through the second-hand clothing shops. 

Camden Block Market had the clothes Da’ said we needed, but not the coins. We stowed the jackets and trousers in the boot, and I headed the MG to Portobello Road and found an antiques stall. 

“Treasure coins?” The vendor pulled a tray out from under her counter. “Here you go, luv.” 

Da’ examined them carefully. “These are escudos. I want these.” He selected several of the gold doubloons. “How much?” She named a price, and he frowned. “What’s that in American, Drew?” I did some quick figuring in my head and told him, and he nodded. “Okay, now what have you got in pieces of eight, reales, bust coins?” 

She placed another tray beside the first and tried to see how interested he was, but the sunglasses he wore defeated her purpose. I could feel his fizz of excitement, though, like a burst of orange and red fireworks in my mind. //The exact year for the story I’ll tell. And it even has Isabella’s bust on it!// I converted the price the vendor gave us from pounds into dollars, and Da’ nodded again. I bought them for him. 

We walked on, looking for a leather pouch. “If we really intended to collect these as an investment, this would be the worst thing for them,” he said as he fingered one pouch after another, and then shook his head and moved on. “They’ll rub against each other and lose value. Still, we got them for a pretty reasonable price.” 

“A hundred pounds, Da’?” I grumbled. That was almost five hundred dollars. 

He shrugged. “She had to make a profit, and in the Florida Keys they’d charge two or three times that. Afraid you won’t get a return on your money, Brit?” 

“Oh, I will get a return, Yank.” I arched an eyebrow and placed a hand low on his hip, letting him know how I intended to collect it. He seemed to vibrate, and I silently cursed those glasses. I wanted to see in his eyes his reaction to me. 

Suddenly he pounced. “Ah hah! Perfect!” 

“Da’! The object of bargaining is to get the best price! If they see how eager you are, they won’t even bother to consider anything less than what they first ask!” But he just grinned at me and reached for the soft leather pouch. In spite of his eagerness, it was so worn we were able to purchase it for a few pence.  I handed over the coins, and we returned to the car. 

“Now, how long does it take before you need to shave?” 

He had explained earlier that his plan called for me to look rather disreputable. I ran a hand over my chin and jaw. “Well, as you can see, I’ve already got a five o’clock shadow, and it’s only a little after noon.” 

“That look suits you.” His palm cupped my face, and his thumb brushed over the stubble that darkened my cheek, rhythmically caressed my cheekbone. “Yes.” His lips parted, he removed his sunglasses and let me see the heat in his eyes. “Oh, yes.” 

I threw the MG into gear and sped home. 


Da’ was pulling on the bell-bottomed trousers when he told me where, exactly, it was he wanted to go. I was fascinated by the way the material clung to his upper leg and flared out below his knee, mesmerized by the way his fingers threaded each button in the thirteen buttonholes on the plaquet, and it took a second for what he said to sink in.  

“The docks, Da’?” I tried to talk him out of it. “Have you any idea how dangerous that area is?” 

He proved adamant, however; simply shrugged and said, “I’d just as soon go down there without you, Drew. I’d worry about you and wouldn’t be able to do what I had to do.” 

As if that was sure to convince me to let him go alone. I glared at him. “Oh, no you won’t, Da’ric! You go down on… with me…” He snickered, and I could feel my cheeks heat with a blush. 

“Freudian slip?” 

I cleared my throat and tried another tack. “Look, we can't take the MG down there! That would be a sure-fire way of marking us as not belonging. Besides, merchant seamen can't afford this model.” 

“Yeah, sure, like they can afford an MG, period. This is your town, Brit.” He grinned. “Think of a way to get us down there.” 

I wanted to wipe that grin off his mouth, preferably by kissing it. Stripping the clothes from his lean body and taking him back to bed would be even better. I let him see my thoughts.  Color tinged his cheeks, and his breathing became unsteady. 

In the end, I called an old school chum. William Witherspoon had roomed with me through my years at Brookfield, and then at university. He put his degree in finance away in a drawer and instead had learned the ins and outs of the maze that was London’s streets when he was preparing to take the test for his taxi license, and now he ran his own car service. I told him where we needed to go, and there was an ominous silence on the end of the line. “Billy?” 

“Drew, are you sure? Okay, okay! I’ll be over in about twenty. I have to find a suitable vehicle.” It was closer to forty-five minutes, and the vehicle he showed up in was a beat-up old cab that was post-war vintage. He took one look at how I was dressed, and his eyes bugged out, and his jaw dropped. “Oh, my, my! How Dapper Dorincort has fallen!” 

“This from the man who thought orange and orchid went well together? We can always take the underground I’ll have you know, Billy, m’lad!” 

“Not if you want to go to the Battered Cruiser, you can’t! The tube stops running a couple of miles from there.” He ran a knowledgeable eye over my companion. “Now that suits him very well! He won’t have any trouble in there, although maybe if he took off the shades…?” Billy reached for them. Da”s hand closed around his wrist, and Billy froze. 

“They stay.” 

“Okay, mate. Not a problem. Just don’t mangle the wrist. I’ll get you down to the docks, Drew, Bob’s your uncle.” 

“Yes, well, step on it, Billy!” I didn’t tell him I had plans for the night; he had seen the way I’d looked at Da’. We climbed into the back seat of the cab. I glanced over at Da’, but those sunglasses concealed his eyes, and I couldn’t tell what he was thinking. 

//That’s because you’re not trying, Brit.// I felt his amusement stroking my mind. //It will be fine, Drew, I promise you.// “C'mon, Brit. Let me hear you say something. Convince me you're not slumming.” 

I sighed, but dutifully spoke a few sentences. “‘Don’t be cross, pet. That beach is littered with gold.’” 

“Beg pardon, Drew,” Billy tossed over his shoulder, “but if you aim to fool the blokes down at the B.C., you'll have to do better than that. They'll make you for a Hooray quicker'n the cat can lick her ear!” 

“Bugger.” I hid a grin and cleared my throat. “The rine in spine styes minely in the pline.” Billy convulsed into laughter, narrowly missing a Mini that shot into the road ahead of us. The shift of the cab threw Da’ and me together, and he seized the opportunity to brush a quick kiss over my mouth. “Don’t worry about it; I’ll be fine when the time comes. Billy, do you have any idea of how we can get to this place?” 

“Bloody hell! You don’t know where the Battered Cruiser is? Drew!” If he didn’t need to have both hands on the wheel, I knew he would have reached back and swatted me. “I'll let you off as close as I can. Just follow your nose; you won't be able to miss it.” He pulled up about a quarter mile from the Battered Cruiser, and frowned when I tried to hand him some bills. “You know I won’t take your money, Drew. I owe you for too many things. You sure you want to be in this part of town? It’s got a downright nasty reputation.” 

“Thanks. I don't think we'll have a problem.” I glanced around at the rows of rundown houses and boarded up shops. If I hadn't known I could call on the wolf if it appeared that Da’ was in any kind of danger, I would have flat out refused to let him carry out his plan. I wondered how he would have reacted to that. I could feel his eyes on me. 

// Please don’t ask me.// 

I sighed. 

Billy gave me a card. “Call this number when you’re done playing at whatever it is you’re playing at.” 

“We'll be here for quite some time.” Da’ was smiling, and it wasn’t a pleasant smile. It suddenly occurred to me that he might well be as dangerous as the wolf. “Do you know of a place that offers decent food?” 

“Joe's Noshery won’t give you gut-rot. It’s two streets over that way.” 

We watched as Billy drove away. “All right, ‘lead on, MacDuff.’” I made sure he walked on the inside, and I stayed alert. My lover was too exotic by half to pass this way unmolested. Amazingly, the sole time someone approached us, it was me he tried to accost. One look at Da”s expression was enough to persuade the blighter to look elsewhere. He coughed slightly, offered me a weak grin, and moved on. And Da’ had the gall to look amused!


Warning: Bad people will die badly. 

Note: China is from the rhyming slang: china plate=mate. La Venganza Dulce is The Sweet Revenge. #### denotes change of POV. This starts with Drew’s POV, and then goes to David Reed’s POV.


Part 17


We stood at the bar of the Battered Cruiser, waiting our turn to be served. It was a dimly lit pub that Da’ had insisted was the place we needed to go, although at the time of day that we walked in, it was still fairly empty. In a couple of hours, however, it would be doing a booming business. 

Its location down by the docks insured its clientele were not only men who had been to sea and were on land for the first time in weeks or months, but also the seediest-looking specimens of land rats that I had ever seen. The wolf was very close to the surface, and I struggled to present a harmless exterior. 

“Been in town long, sailor?” The barmaid built our beers, getting a frothy head, and slapped them down efficiently on the bar before us. Her question was meant to be flirty; it was directed at me. 

“Just made port this mornin’. Lousy spendin’ the last coupla months away from ‘ome, an’ on a grotty tub like La Venganza Dulce! Run a tab for us, there’s a luv?” 

“Oh, ay, bright eyes.” Her carmine-colored lips parted in a predatory smile, and her eyes stripped my clothes from my body. “Betcha it musta been right lonely, away to sea all that time, with no feminine company.” 

I was a trifle surprised. Here beside me was this gorgeous specimen of sex on the hoof, and people were coming on to me! I cut a sideways glance at Da’ through my lashes. His face was turned toward the barmaid, and although his eyes were hidden behind the dark lenses of his glasses, I could feel his irritation building. I took his fingers in my hand and played with them, endeavoring to make the smile I sent the barmaid’s way appear shy. “Not lonely, no.” 

Her eyes widened, and her mouth dropped open, then snapped shut.  “That’s the way it is, is it? Bloody ‘ell. Y' look so… normal!” 

Da’ stiffened, then subsided under the gentle mental caress I sent him. 

From the other end of the bar, “Oi! Jenny, lass, I’m that parched! Come give us another drink, luv!” She went to fill the order, and Da’ and I took our beers to a table close enough to the bar so our conversation could be overheard if anyone chose to do so. I edged my chair closer and closer to Da”s. Each time I would step up to the bar and indicate I’d have another beer, the bar maid would draw it, shake her head, and go back to chatting up more likely prospects. 

Da’ was nursing his second glass. “You know you tend to chatter on when you’ve had too many. Take it easy on those, Andy,” he advised. 

“Don’t  ‘ave to, pet. ’ve got a wooden leg, I ‘ave.” I swayed and grabbed hold of his arm, as if to prevent myself from falling off my chair and onto the floor, and pulled him toward me. I tucked my head under his chin and smiled coyly up at him. 

Hollow leg, you wanker!” He ruffled my hair and chuckled. “I’ve been hangin’ ’round you so long, I’m startin’ to talk like you!” He eased his chair away from the table and stood up. “I’m goin’ to the… uh…” Da’ nodded toward the back of the pub. “Settle the accounts like a good lad, china, an’ then I’ll get you some grub. I shouldn’t have let you drink so much on an empty stomach. You’re pissed!” He made his way to the loo. 

With drunken dignity, I stood, and with careful steps I approached the bar, taking my beer with me. “‘m not pissed,” I muttered belligerently. I spoke just loudly enough for the barmaid to hear. I fumbled through my trouser pockets, then pulled the leather pouch from an inner pocket of my pea coat and fished out a coin, making sure I dropped the pouch on the bar. The coins in it clinked together nicely. I peered at the silver in my hand, then nodded, put it on the bar and slid it toward her. “This oughta be ‘nough.” I gave her a soused grin, and reached for my beer, almost knocking it over. “Oops.” I giggled tipsily. 

She was turning the coin over and over. “Where’d you come by this, luv?” Her tone had become warm and friendly. “Ain’t seen nothin’ like it in forever.” 

I squinted at her as if trying to bring her features into focus. “M’ mate an’ me, we was on this tramp steamer, La Venganza Dulce? She was sailin’ up from Argentina an’ skipper made us put in to this little bitty island off Brazil ‘cause ‘e wanted bananas. Bananas, I tell ya! ‘e was some ticked at us, I dunno why, an’ made us go ashore alone.” I rubbed my shoulder as if in remembered discomfort. “Got a charley ‘orse in m’ arm that ‘urt sommat fierce; Ricky, m’ mate, ‘e ‘ad to do most of the rowin’ back. Gawd, ‘e was that pissed at me!” 

“You found this on the island?” 

“Yeah, didn’t I say? There was a bunch scattered on t’ island, an’ Ricky, ‘e’s s’ smart, ‘e says it musta been ‘cause of a storm, the bottom getting’ all stirred up like, an’ just kinda flingin’ t’ coins up on t’ beach.” 

“Pieces of eight, luv? How’d they wind up there, d’ya think?” 

“Oh, doubloons an’ reales, an’ silver cobs. That’s ‘ow the Spaniards sent the bullion ‘ome t’ Spain. That’s what Ricky tole me; ‘e done some research, ‘e did!” I informed her proudly. “See, there was this serious bad ‘urricane that sunk a whole treasure fleet! It was so bad, they even called it the Great ‘Urricane of 1780! Can you imagine that? Ricky thinks one o’ the ships musta been driven close to this island before it sunk.” 

“Really, luv? And these coins was waitin’ on the shore, just waitin’ to be picked up?” 

“Oh, no. That came from t’ cave. This were on t’ beach!” I pulled a doubloon from the pouch, then returned it quickly. I took a last swallow of my beer. I was walking a fine line between drunk and stupid, and I was getting nervous. I hoped her greed, and the mention that I was a talkative drunk, would overcome any suspicions of all the information I was giving her. “There ya are, Ricky, pet!” Da’ had finally come back. “Thought you’d fallen in!” 

“Jesus, Andy, you really are lagered up.” His fingertips stroked over the stubble on my cheek. “C’mon… Hallo, what’s this doin’ here?” He stared at the pouch with a fierce frown, then scooped it up. “Sonuvabitch, you didn’t use one of these coins to pay… Fuck! That was so soddin’ stupid! I told you not to…” 

“Don’t scold, pet,” I whined, thrusting out my lower lip in a pout. “You’ve got all our foldin’, an’ you tole me to pay.” 

He leaned across the bar. “Listen, miss, give me the coin back, please. This should cover the tab for the beers my friend and me had.” Da’ offered her a handful of shillings. 

“That’s all right, luv, this’ll do just fine.” 

Da’ scowled and took a pound note from the wad he had folded in his trouser pocket. “I want the coin back. This is more than enough!” 

The barmaid moistened her lips. She stared at the bill avidly, clearly tempted, but her expression became even more avid when she looked down at the silver coin in her palm. “Ta anyroad luv, but as I tole ya, this’ll do.” 

“‘Sokay, Ricky.” I stroked his arm and made my tone placating. “We got more.” 

“Yeah, well we won’t have if you keep usin’ ‘em to pay for drinks, for piss sake!” He threw my hand away from him. 

“But there’s more where that come from!” I ran a finger up his chest, and gave him a sotted smile. “All we gotta do is find someun who’ll get us back to Isla del… um… whatever it is.” I turned to the barmaid. “That’s all we gotta do.” 

“Fuck, Andy!” 

“‘Sokay, pet. I tole her all about it.” I made my eyes go vague. “All about that beach with all the lovely gold all over it!” 

“Shut up, Andy!” he hissed and whacked the side of my head. 

“Oww!” Aggrieved, I rubbed my ear. 

“He’s squiffed, miss; don’t pay him no mind! Bleedin’ get don’t know what he’s talkin’ about! C’mon, you!” Da’ glared at me and dragged me off. Halfway to the door, he glanced over his shoulder and almost stumbled. “Fuck, Andy, watch where you put your great, galumphin’ feet!” The barmaid was watching us, and he glared at her as well. She turned away, slipping the coin into her pocket, and busied herself with the taps. 

I wove and staggered all over the walk as we made our way down the street, singing a few bars of The Butcher Boy slightly off-key, and then starting all over again. Once we were out of sight of the Battered Cruiser, I was instantly sober. 

“You really do have a hollow leg, don’t you, Brit.” 

I looked down my nose at him, which was a trick since he was a few inches the taller. “Of course!” I spoiled it by laughing, but I quickly grew serious. “Da’, what happened? Why did you trip?” 

“I spotted Juan Zolo in a corner table. He's the one who bought me for Marconi. I thought he was in South America. I’ll have to go back later and see if he’s still there.” 

“I’m going with you.” 

He wasn’t listening to me. “Call your friend Billy, and have him waiting with the cab.” 

“There are too many people there!" 

"Later the crowd should have thinned out a bit. I don’t want to miss this opportunity to get Zolo." 

"What are you going to do, strangle him?” My fingers dug into his upper arm. “Da’, I watched you dress. You don’t have anything with which to protect yourself. I won’t let you go alone! At least you'll have the wolf if it becomes dangerous!” 

“Drew.” A phantom kiss brushed across my mouth. “I’m always armed.” Da' looked around, but there was no one in our vicinity. He made a fist, and suddenly inch-long claws seemed to sprout from his knuckles. 

“Jesus god, Da’!” I remembered his bloody hands in our shared dream. 

He ran the backs of his claws gently over my throat. I knew he wouldn't hurt me, but the hint of unbridled danger was rousing, and I shivered. “They’re still immature right now. It will take some time before they’re as long and as strong as they were before Sarone broke them, but I promise you, their immaturity didn’t mean much to Simmons.” 

I realized how he had managed to kill the man in that cellar room. I ran a hand through my hair. “All right,” I agreed reluctantly. “But I’m only giving you half an hour. If you aren’t out of the pub by then, I’ll be coming in after you.” By this time we had found Joe’s Noshery and went in to order a meal of fish and chips, which seemed the safest thing on the menu in spite of what Billy had told me. We took our baskets to a table. “Do you think our ploy worked?” 

“From what Titch let slip to Simmons, Jenny, the barmaid, works on the side for Marconi. She’ll make sure he sees that coin.” Da’ eyed the vinegar I sprinkled on my chips with interest and followed suit. He took a bite and made a pleased sound. 

“And you think he’ll be willing to finance a treasure hunt?” 

He shrugged. “Yeah, I kind of think he will. When I go back, before I deal with Zolo, I’ll convince Jenny that I’ve quarreled with you, and I'm returning to the Battered Cruiser to drown my sorrows. I’ll curse that goddamned island, making sure I name it.” I could feel savagery of almost orgasmic intensity in his mind. No matter what course Callisto Marconi chose, he was a dead man. “I think Marconi’ll want to go there. Whether he’ll take partners with him remains to be seen. He doesn’t seem to be the kind who likes to share.” 


Da”s grin was lopsided. “It’s amazing how freely people talk around someone they think is drugged.” 

My fists clenched, and I wanted to get my hands on those bastards who had treated him so miserably. I didn’t realize I was actually growling until the couple at the table next to ours cast a frightened glance my way and hastily left. “What’s on this Isla del Queimada Grande, Da’?” 

“Ilha de Queimada Grande,” he mused quietly, giving it a slightly different pronunciation. “Exactly what you told the barmaid, Drew. Gold.” 

“Da’.” This close to him, and in the light of the little eatery, I could just make out his unusual eyes behind the dark lenses. They were cold, the pupils narrow, vertical slits. 

His voice dropped to just above a whisper. “Once upon a time, there was this little island in the Atlantic Ocean, off the southeastern coast of Brazil. And on this island, there was a lighthouse. About fifty or so years ago, the last lighthouse keeper and his family, a daughter, two sons and his wife, were all found lying in pools of dried blood, dead. The Brazilian Navy automated the light, declared the place off limits, and basically abandoned it.” 

“How did you learn of this island, Da’?” 

“Oh, tales about it abound, and it has a rather nasty reputation. The Navy really doesn’t need to enforce the ban. The local fishermen know better than to go there. There’s also a story about a fisherman who put in to shore to gather some bananas.” 

“Ah!” I made a soft sound, understanding why my lover had suggested using a desire for bananas as the reason for La Venganza Dulce paying the island a visit. 

Da”s lips curled in a hard grin, and he continued. “His wife grew concerned when he didn’t return home as he usually did, and when it came out where he was supposed to be fishing, a search party was got up immediately. They didn’t have to search very hard.  His boat was found anchored about a hundred and fifty meters off the beach. And they found the fisherman, sprawled on its deck. He’d bled to death.” He finished his last chip and delicately licked the vinegar from his fingers. 

I touched my tongue to my lips nervously.  “What’s on that island, Da’?” 

He sat back in his chair, his legs stretched under the table, his hands folded on his flat stomach. I wondered if he had done that to distract me. “Fer-de-lance, Drew. One of the most venomous vipers in the western hemisphere. Golden lanceheads. The island is overrun with them. Four hundred thirty thousand square meters, and at least five snakes to every square meter.” 

I considered what he had said about the lighthouse keeper and his family, and about the hapless fisherman. “And their bite causes their victim to bleed to death?” 

“That’s how the human body reacts to the venom. Sometimes.” 

“Sometimes?” I felt the hackles on the back of my neck rise. 

He shrugged. “Other times the site of the bite will become necrotic. The living tissue will rot.” 

“Bloody hell!” 

“Yeah. Not a pretty way to go, nor an easy one. Hurts like hell, I understand.” He glanced at the basket that held the remainder of my meal. “If you’re done, Brit, shall we go?” 

We left Joe’s Noshery, and I found a phone box and called Billy. “He’ll be right down to meet us, Da’.” I hung up and turned to face him, to find he was gone. “Bugger!” 


I had my hand on the door handle of the cab, ready to find my lover and drag him out of the pub if need be, when Da’ staggered out of the Battered Cruiser, playing the drunk. He paused for a moment in front of the pub, his shoulders hunched against the cold night air, then came to the cab. I threw open the door, and he slid in beside me. Silently, I handed him a handkerchief, and he wiped the blood off his right hand. “Thanks, Brit.” 

“Are you all right?” My fingers ghosted over him, checking for injuries, but as soon as I touched him, I knew the blood wasn’t his. 

“Yeah. I’m okay.” He leaned into me, and I put my arm around him. “But jesus, I’m tired!” 

“Get us home, Billy,” I told my friend. 

“Right-o, Drew. We’re on our way.” 


I angled the boat into the bottleneck opening to the Black Lagoon, and it chugged through the still waters. I knew this was going to be the hardest thing I had ever done. 

//David! I expected you back hours ago!// My lover appeared over the side of the boat. 

Would picking a quarrel work? I shook my head. I wouldn’t be able to sustain any kind of level of indignation. “Uh… it took me some time to get used to the Josie’s controls.” I ignored his frown, a very fearsome expression. 

He, in turn, ignored my excuse. //Are you going to tell me what you did?// 

I kept a tight lid on my thoughts. "I don't know what you mean, Ric." 


"I just took Mother and Father to Manaus. You know we all agreed it was time for them to go home." I pretended to be busy throttling down the cabin cruiser my parents had purchased when they decided they needed to come searching for me once again on the Amazon. "They'll see about getting a copy of Da's passport to him, and then he can come home to the Black Lagoon. Isn't this Josie a beauty?" They had gifted me with the twenty-eight foot inboard, and I had promptly christened her Desejo do Coração II. 

//Yes, yes, I can see I'll have to challenge her for your affections.// 

I dropped anchor and began to strip off my clothes. "Of course, she'll never match the first Jo,” I rambled. “I'll always love that boat best, because she brought me back to you." 

Powerful hands closed over my upper arms and lifted me until we were eye to eye. I rubbed my knee gently over the sheath that protected his cock, willing to try sex as a diversion. //David, whatever you're trying to do, you are not succeeding. I am not distracted. Now, what did you do?// 

"Nothing. I did nothing," I insisted again. "Suppose you tell me what you did, you big dragon." 

//I don’t know what you mean, David.// He threw my own words back at me. His long jaws parted in a grin that revealed rows of razor-sharp, white teeth. It was his 'butter wouldn't melt in his mouth' expression, and I wasn't buying it for a minute. 

“Ric’u!” I wanted to relax back into mind-speech, but I wasn’t quite certain if my obfuscation had worked.

//Very well.// He licked the skin over my adam’s apple, then set me down, but kept me within the circle of his arms. //I did a little skulking around Furo do Inferno.// 

“Ah hah! I knew you were up to… Wait a second, why go to that hell-hole?” I leaned back to stare up into his face. 

Furo do Infero was a small village a few hundred kilometers south of where the Amazon and the Purus Rivers met, west of Manaus. The houses were shacks, and the inhabitants were scum who had been run out of every decent town in Brazil. It was notorious up and down the Amazon for the liquor it produced. Made from the heads of poisonous snakes boiled with the liquid distilled from the spikes of the Caribbean agave, which was smuggled into the country, it gave the imbiber a quick, cheap, addictive high. 

No sane person went there. If they did, they did not remain sane for long. The combination of the constant drone of insects, the lethal alcohol, and the no less lethal inhabitants of Furo do Infero were enough to drive anyone mad. 

//Paul Sarone had a woman there. Whenever he wasn’t running guns or dealing drugs, or selling natives as slave labor, he went to see her. Rumor has it the boy living with her is Sarone's.// He shrugged, and the movement let me feel him over every inch of my body. 

“He's spawned?” I was aghast. 

//He acknowledged the boy as his. Even the lowest of creatures feels the need to reproduce.// 

“God help us all! Just a second! ‘Had’? Past tense?” 

//Indeed.// There was a smugness there, and I prodded a bit. I was startled by what I read in his mind. 

“You had Esme with you? Why?” 

An abrupt ferocity colored his thoughts. //She is very fond of our son, and when I… told… her what Sarone had done to him, she wanted very much to pay this…// he spat out a guttural Brachian word which was untranslatable, even with our mind link, but I had no trouble getting the idea. //… a visit. She was quite hungry by the time we got there.// 

“Ric’u. I trust she is no longer hungry?” It had nearly destroyed me when I learned what Sarone and my one-time lover, Jack Halliwell, had done to our son. 

//Did you doubt it, my own?// 

I made a sound of satisfaction. “What of the boy and the woman?” 

//I had no quarrel with them, and Esme was quite satisfied with her meal.// 

“I just hope she doesn’t get indigestion.” I stepped up onto the transom, about to dive into the warm depths of the Black Lagoon. “So they live?” 

He nodded, but he was not about to stop questioning me. //David. What did you do?// 

“I saw Mother and Father off on their flight,” I repeated patiently, “and then I sailed the Josie home.” I was not going to tell him anything else. I buttoned my thoughts down tighter. What I had done was something I would live with for the rest of my life, and I accepted that. Because at one time in my past it was as if there had been a revolving door to my bedroom, my son had been brutalized. 

Before I could dive in, Ric pulled me down off the transom and into his arms. //What did you do?// 

It had been long years since I had kept my lover from my thoughts. Just the fact that I did so now made him aware that I was concealing something from him. He tipped my chin up. His huge palms cradled my head, and he stared into my eyes. The barriers I had erected against him began to waver, and I struggled to shore them up. 

//David. It was not your fault.// 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Ric. Look, I want to get back to the cave; I haven’t eaten since this morning, and I’m starving…” I tried to twist out of his grip and dive over the side, but he wouldn’t let me go. “Ric…” 

His arms tightened, and he began to rock me. I held myself stiffly, but he just kept rocking me gently. //David, if you came directly back from Manaus, you would have been here hours ago. What did you do?//

I turned my face into his chest and shook. He stroked my hair, and began to vibrate. The purr rumbled under my cheek, warming me. “I found Halliwell.” I had told the bastard that I’d made a mistake and wanted another chance with him. He wanted my ass so badly; I had no problem getting him on the cabin cruiser instead of his yacht. I convinced him that the Josie’s inboard motors would get us where we needed to go faster than his yacht’s sails. It took a couple of hours to get there, hours in which I had to endure Halliwell’s touch, but I wasn’t going to let my lover know this. As long as I kept the tale verbal, I was certain I could keep what I had done from him. 

I shuddered, burying even deeper the memory of Jack Halliwell’s pudgy, sweaty fingers roving over my body, stroking and squeezing my cock. He didn't care that I wasn't hard; he just laughed and said he'd remedy that when we arrived in paradise. The only thing that kept me from throwing up was what I knew awaited him at the end of our journey. 


“I… uh… I got him to this spot.” At that hour of the morning, it was cool and shadowy. Halliwell couldn’t wait to get his clothes off, and stripped without me even having to say a word. I told him to lie down. That I would ride him, like he’d never been ridden before. “I had handcuffs…” He had scurried into the cabin of his yacht and pulled some cuffs from out of a drawer in the captain’s bunk. He’d almost creamed his pants at the thought of using them to restrain me, only...  “I snapped them around his wrists and ankles…” And he still had no inkling that he wasn’t in control. “I staked him out on the rainforest floor, then drizzled honey on strategic parts of his body. The first army ant showed up about two minutes later.” I licked my lips, remembering the screams. 

//David.// Ric’u’s breath wuffled over me as he inhaled, testing my scent. Fortunately, when I got back to the Josie, I’d scrubbed myself over and over again, until I thought I’d scrub my skin raw. 

“No. No. I’m… I’m all right…" I buried my face against him. 

//Little one…// He hadn’t called me that in ages. I looked up at him, and he ran the pads of his thumbs under my eyes, catching the moisture that had spilled over. //One day you will tell me what you are keeping from me now.// 

//I’m not…// 

His big hands stroked over my hair, my neck, my shoulders, down my back, until I felt as if I was surrounded by him. //One day you will realize that nothing you do, nothing that might have been done to you, will stop me from loving you.// He lapped at the stupid tears that insisted on falling, then set me back on the transom. //Da’ has contacted me, and asked that I see about some plans he has set into motion. Now, let’s go home. // 

He swung off the boat and sank into the waters of the Black Lagoon, heading for the tunnel that led to our underground home. And I dove off and followed him.


End Part B

On to Part C