There were myths handed down over the years, stories of another time when there were no Derkelyng. Only humans ruled the land, and legend said these humans didn’t hide from the night. Theylived and loved without fear. Theyhad organized schools, governments, banks, a written word, and theyowned businesses. Theyeven kept time differently, it was said.
Those from the past were not afraid to go out at night; theywere not hunted as food…or pleasure.
Theyhad no idea how lucky they were, if that was true. Things were not like that now. The world as known by those humans ended in 2010. That’s when the Derkelyng first showed themselves. And soon after that, there was war.
The year now was 20PW, or Post War. There were two groups that existed on Earth now. The Derkelyng—creatures that walked the night and lived off blood—and the humans. The Derkelyng lived in the crumbling cities of the past.
Humans lived away from the cities in whatever places they could find that offered safety. Very little could destroy those walking nightmares. Sunlight could. So could a stake to the heart, or cutting off their heads.
I was a human of the present world. In the times we now lived in, it was survival of the fittest. And I fully intended to survive. I was twenty years old and had been fighting for my life for as long as I could remember. The scars on my body and my face proved that. By the age of ten, I was proficient with a knife and could shoot a gun.
By fifteen, my father had been killed, and I was on my own. I knew how to defend myself, thanks to my father. I only had to kill two of the older men in my clan before they left me alone. Over the next five years, I’d proved my usefulness to the clan and rose in its ranks. I wouldsurvive.
But the truth was, if one of the creatures took an interest in you, you were dead; either really dead, or dead as undead… one of those things that haunted the night. None of us knew for sure how the Derkelyng converted a human. There were rumors the creatures infected humans with their bite. Other rumors said it was from having sex with them. The Derkelyng certainly weren’t telling.
Humans were prey, plain and simple.
Being prey was one thing, but being stupid was another. And I had been incredibly stupid. Twilight was coming, and here I was still inside the city limits. Stupid didn’t even begin to explain what I was. No, actually, dead was probably what I was.
“Shit, shit, shit.”
I found a burned-out shell of a house outside city limits that hadn’t been ransacked yet. Maybe being nothing but a hull had fooled others, but I still had to check it out. What I’d found had been amazing. There was a basement under all that trash and burnt wood.
Once I cleared away the junk, broken furniture, and other camouflage, I found a door in the floor. I broke the lock and made my way down a sturdy staircase.
Things were looking up.
But even I wasn’t prepared for what I found. There was a light switch at the bottom of the stairs. I flicked the switch, not really expecting much. My mouth fell open when two light bulbs flashed on. The light was weak, but it was enough. There were guns, at least fifteen, and boxes and boxes of ammo to go with those weapons. The walls were packed three feet deep with canned goods and paper products too. Excited by my find, I hadn’t really checked out the surroundings.
As I took inventory, a young man came out of the shadows, snarling obscenities and waving a knife. I tried to reason with him, talk him down—I mean, he had to see the rifle slung over my shoulder, right?—but when he threw the knife at me… well, that persuaded me otherwise.
I shot him between the eyes.
He wasn’t the first man I’d killed, and he wouldn’t be the last. Would I feel bad, feel something for the life I’d taken? Doubtful. I killed because I had to. That was the type of world I lived in now. Kill or be killed. So maybe I would feel bad later. But for right now, I had to deal with a wailing young woman on a pallet in the back that I hadn’t seen earlier. Great.
I raised my gun and stepped closer. I had every intention of threatening her into silence. That plan fell by the wayside when I saw her lying in a shaft of light. Fuck. She was sick, deadly sick, and covered in open, seeping sores. The smell was horrible. Or maybe that smell was the dead baby next to her.
Every-fucking-where I looked death stared at me. Story of my very short life. I should shoot her in the head and end her suffering. While I didn’t mind killing, I couldn’t do it in cold-blood. Knowing I was making a mistake, I stayed and did what I could. I tried to leave water near her, even tried to get her to drink, but I could tell she wasn’t long for this world. She sounded like she was breathing through water, and her eyes were glazed. Two hours later, she died.
If only the guy would’ve let me talk to him, instead of attacking me. Once he threw that knife, he sealed his fate. And he had nicked me. Nothing bad, but bleeding and being out of doors…yeah, not a good combination. I found some bottled water and washed the cut. Then I cut a strip off my shirt and wrapped the wound.
With a sigh, I gathered the bodies and buried them. Once finished, I went back to my little treasure trove to take stock. I found a tunnel they used to get out of the basement, and I explored that. Finally, I came to the end of the tunnel. Holy shit, I hadn’t realized how much time had passed.
And that wasn’t all. Where the tunnel ended was not good. Jesus Christ, I was fucked. I was back inside the city limits, night was coming, and I had a cut which was still seeping.
Blood would draw the Derkelyng to me like a moth to a flame.
What to do, what to do? I could maybe barricade myself in the tunnel—if I could even find anything I could use—and hope the Derkelyng didn’t sniff me out. That didn’t look very promising, but I’d be belowground. Then again, if they found the tunnel and came at me from both ends, I’d be trapped.
I looked at the crumbling pile of stone, brick, and glass around me. I could move easier here and use the shadows for concealment. Not that it mattered since I was cut, but out here the damn things would have to run me to ground.
I ran toward what was left of the city.
How did it get to be dark so quick? And when did it start to rain? A never-ending rain, falling softly upon my face—drip… drip… drip. The sound echoed in my head, matching my thumping heart. I lifted my face. Rivers of wetness twisted and snaked, working their way down until they finally caressed my vulnerable throat, a ghostly touch.
Shivering slightly, I tried to bring my erratic breathing under control. In… out… in… out. A strangled, desperate laugh threatened to escape as my mind reminded me why I was breathing so hard. There was no calming down. Death would soon stalk the night, closing in on me, its harsh breath cold on my neck. I stopped near a wall. A warm breeze wrapped around my exhausted body as I shook the rain from my hair.
“God, help me.”
The laugh that threatened earlier finally escaped as the words floated around me, dead and limp in the misty air. Even if God did exist, He couldn’t help me. No one and nothing could. No, prayers wouldn’t rescue me from what stalked the night now. This being was much more corporeal, with flashing fangs, red eyes, inhuman speed, and a thirst for blood. Worse, the creatures that owned the night were immortal.
I ducked in and out of the shadows, moving as silently as possible as I searched for a hiding place. The deeper in the city I moved, the more I noticed the buildings had been renovated. Were these creatures trying to bring the cities back? Why? They were animals; all they cared about was blood and fucking. At least, that’s what we’d always thought… hat we had been taught.
Finally, darkness covered the land. Slowly the evening’s silence awoke with movement. As I searched for a hiding place, I noticed bodies taking to the streets as red eyes searched and voices drifted.
“Mmm, do you smell that?”
“Ah yes, fresh blood. I do believe we have a human among us tonight. Odd, they’re usually out of the city limits by nightfall.”
“Guess this one didn’t make it out in time, huh?”
“Indeed. What fun!”
The hunt was on.
Lander lived in the area that had been rebuilt. His home was the top floor of the largest building in the center of the city. The rest of the building housed his business, all 110 floors. He was the House Lord for the La Nouvelle-Orléans Coven in the Southern District and he’d fought bloody well to claim that title. Before the war had changed everything, he’d been a wealthy businessman with power in this part of the country.
In a finger snap, he’d been changed into what could only be called a vampire. Or, as they were now called, the Derkelyng. The creature who’d changed him was one of the oldest. Through Lander, and others as powerful as Lander, he’d taken control of the southern part of the United States. Of course, after the war the country was no longer called the U.S. of A. The land was divided into sectors ruled by the strongest Derkelyng.
Rider was the Derkelyng who’d changed his life and the only ‘man’ Lander was answerable to. Rider was the Elder Lord, the undisputed Leader of the coven. Rider was one of the eldest and most powerful among his kind. Thank God Lander didn’t have to see Rider but once a year. Frankly, Rider scared the hell out of Lander. Even as vicious as he could be, Rider was that much more. Lander still had human emotions buried under the need for blood… Rider did not.
Rider had never been human.
Lander strolled across the lobby; a doorman was ready and waiting. Outside, a car sat at the curb to take him wherever he wanted. He just didn’t know where he wanted to go. From the moment he’d opened his eyes, he was restless. The urge to prowl wouldn’t leave him and it was driving him nuts. He nodded at the doorman as he walked outside. The night was alive with sounds and scents. Lander rolled his shoulders, the spot between his shoulder blades itching suddenly.
“What the hell…?” Lander growled as the pressure increased.
On the evening breeze was something… a scent. The smell wrapped around him, teasing his senses. Fluttery sensations invaded his belly and his knees threatened to buckle. Taking a deep breath, he drew the smell in, and smelled blood. Human blood. The smell tangled in his head and shot to his groin, making him harder than he’d ever been. Male. Young… and strong.
Rider had told him he’d find one human who would call his blood—the human who would tame the beast within him, who would help anchor his raging soul. Lander didn’t believe Rider. He didn’t believe it was possible for Derkelyng to see humans as anything other than prey. They were weaker species, were they not? Some were strong, he knew that, but still…
He certainly never dreamed he’d have such strong feelings… and so swiftly.
Growling more loudly, he jerked his head in the direction that wonderful scent came from. Blood always smelled good, tangy and sharp, but this—this was something different, something more. His entire body vibrated with want. While he hungered for the source of that blood, he also yearned for the human it came from.
He wanted to… Heaven help him, he wanted to hold that human close, protect him from the dangers around him, and give him anything his heart desired. Mate. That was his mate out there, alone in the city… and unprotected.
The sweetness of that scent suddenly spiked with the taint of fear. Lander’s body reacted while rational thought flew out the window. Only one thing could make a human stink of fear like that, and that was being hunted.
Lander sniffed again, picking through the scents, following his human’s smell… and the roar that left him had several immortals around him shaking in terror. Not only was his mate out there, but two Derkelyng were hunting him.
Moving faster than a human eye could track, Lander followed that scent.
If they touch what’s mine, I’ll yank out their heart with my bare hands and feed it to them.
Weaving around piles of rubble and old, broken down cars in the street, Lander rushed on, moving even quicker. The other Derkelyng wouldn’t know this human was his, of course. They had no way of knowing. Lander hadn’t marked the human as his yet, much less converted him.
Desperate, Lander sent out his thoughts, warning any Derkelyng around the Central Business District that the human there was his. He even offered a blood reward—just hold the human, unharmed, until he arrived. Of course, doing this also left him open to others who wanted his position under Rider. They could take the human prisoner and force Lander to—
Derkelyng, be it known that my child, Lander, has found his mate. The human near Lafayette Square has my protection. Harm that human and death won’t come fast enough. In fact, death won’t come at all under my mercy.
Lander cringed as the inhuman voice of Rider cut across his, and every other Derkelyng, mind. Jesus, he tended to forget just how strong Rider was, until he was reminded with presents like this.
Thank you, Sire.
You are very welcome, Lander. I’m pleased you’ve found the one, child. I can feel your excitement. I… envy you that.
Maybe one day—
Maybe. Worry not about me, child. Instead, hurry to that special human who will complete you. He waits for you and… huh. Well, I’ll be damned. Impressive. The little shit just shot a Derkelyng who detained him right between the eyes. Won’t kill the male, of course, but he’ll sure feel that for a few days. Your human is a fighter, Lander. I do believe I’m going to like him.
Lander poured on the speed. They had his human. The Derkelyng had been warned not to hurt him, but his kind wasn’t used to humans who fought back, either. How very odd… and exciting. The last thing he wanted was another ‘yes man’ to follow him around. He had that in his old life, and even now.
Most converted Derkelyng feared him to some degree since he was a child of Rider’s. They also walked carefully around him because he was powerful in his own right. This human… Maybe this being would stand up to him unlike the others. Lander raced up St. Charles Avenue, one of the streets that bordered Lafayette Square.
Images sped past until finally, there, by the bronze statue of Henry Clay, a Derkelyng held a struggling human. Another Derkelyng sat close by, a bullet slowly working its way out of his forehead.
And the struggling human? He was cussing a blue streak. His gun had been taken, but apparently this human wore weapons on his body like the female Derkelyng wore jewelry. His mate had a long, wicked knife now… and was doing his best to gut anything that got close enough. Rider was right, this human was impressive.
“Stop!” Lander bellowed.
All three froze on the spot… until the bullet finally worked its way out from the Derkelyng skin and dropped on the ground. Ping, ping, ping it went, bouncing across the ground. All eyes shot to it and just… stared. No one said a word; they all just staredat it. Another time he might have laughed at the situation.
The Derkelyng still on his feet motioned to the human near him. “This is the one we were warned about?”
Lander nodded. “He’s mine, yes. Move away from him.”
“Gladly,” said the other Derkelyng as he stood and shuffled to a bench.
Lander smothered a chuckle. Yes, maybe years from now this would be funny. But for now… Lander turned to his human. “Human. I am Lander Garçon, the House Lord for the La Nouvelle-Orléans Coven in the Southern District. Rider is the Elder Lord of this Coven. You are under his protection. None of the Derkelyng will harm you. By what name may I address you by?”
By what name may I address you by? Well now, isn’t he just so sophisticated, educated, and everything I’m not.
“Blade. My name is Blade.”
Sweat dripped down my face, the tickling sensation making me itch. Damn, that was annoying, as was my soaked shirt, stuck tight to my skin. That mind-numbing run down dark alleyways, knowing those things were hot on my heels, had led me here—to the inner most bowels of the city.
At first, I’d had the impression they were truly hunting me. Snarls and growls still lingered in my ears; they’d played with me like a cat does a mouse. As I ran, I searched for some place suitable for making a stand. If they were going to take me, I wasn’t going to make it easy on them.
“Ah. Okay. Do you happen to have a last name, Blade?”
Then, abruptly, things changed. Instead of taunting me, they stopped talking. Instead of stalking me, they seemed to be herding me. Only these two followed me too. I’d assumed, like most large predators, the Derkelyng hunted in groups.
I stared at the one who appeared to be in charge. “Just Blade.”
It seemed I was wrong. Next thing I knew, I was in this park-type place, my gun had been taken, and suddenly there was this tall guy telling me I was protected and asking my name. And that smell! It was sweet, clean, and… Well hell, it just smelled good. I didn’t get a chance to smell things that smelled good often. The scent made me ache.
“May I ask how you came by such a unique name?”
I shrugged at the one who called himself Lander. “I like knives.”
Those pale lips twitched. “I see. Something to keep in mind, I believe.” A hand was held out, the fingers long and slim. “Please come with me.”
“Your name is Lander, right?” I fingered the knife I still held, surprised it hadn’t been taken from me. “Tell me, why would I want to do that?
“Because I asked you to. You have my word no one will harm you. Please, will you come?”
I snorted. This had to be the weirdest conversation I’d ever had. Not only were they not ripping me limb from limb, fighting over my blood… They were acting like they had manners, and brains that could think rational thoughts, and… shit, feelings. That tall one, Lander, seemed the most concerned about me.
And holy God, whatwas that smell? A tingle raced through my body as I breathed deeply. My cock twitched. Now, if that wasn’t an inappropriate reaction, I didn’t know what was. I blew my bangs out of my eyes and notice Lander grinning at me.
Huh. He’s really not bad looking. Tall, dark hair, lean build… and shit, two sets of fangs and blood red eyes. Okay, I’ve lost my fucking mind.
“Where are we going? And how?” I asked.
Lander stepped closer, his hand still out. “Back to my private unit, and we will walk. No one will bother you, I promise.”
“I’m not dinner?”
Lander threw his head back and laughter roared out of him. When it died down, he wiped his eyes with the hand he’d held out to me. “You, my lovely human, are not dinner. Blade, you are far too important to me to be slaughtered
I noticed the teardrop of blood on his finger and crossed my arms over my chest. “Before I go anywhere with you, tell me whyI’m important.”
Lander held out his hand again. “Take my hand and you will see.”
“This isn’t a trick?”
Why I trusted him, I had no idea. But my gut said I could and my gut was never wrong. I uncrossed my arms, holstered my knife, and gingerly laid my hand in his… and felt like a bull elephant just rammed me in the chest. My lungs froze, my head spun, and my cock stood up.
I had to close my eyes. Everything was suddenly too… just too much, too huge. Desire flashed through my body, spiraling out of control, and a firestorm of need burned through my head. I needed, oh God, I needed… had to have… My fingers clutched, tightening against his… Oh God, I wanted him to throw me down, rip my clothes off and—
“What the fuckis that smell?”
“Blade.” Lander took a deep breath. “I can smell your arousal. And while I’m enjoying that very much, you should know any Derkelyng within fifty feet of you can smell your desire too. You are unmarked as of yet, and… Hell, I’d really hate to kill someone this soon in our relationship.”
My head whirled, and I took a deep breath, then another, then another yet again. The scent filled me. All there was around me was that smell. It was the only thing that mattered to me, the only thing that… I wanted to roll around in that—
My eyes snapped open. “Wait, what the fuck do you mean ‘relationship’?”
Lander kissed my knuckles. “You are my mate. Surely you must know that? That scent you smell is me, just as I can scent you. It’s how we know we’ve found our mate. You, my knife-wielding human, are the one who will belong to me, as I will belong to you. Already the ties that bind us have started.”
For a whole minute, I stared at Lander. That seemed to be the name of the game tonight… staring. Nothing moved, not even a breeze. Even the small animals around us had gone silent. Nothing registered in my brain—no sound, no meaning, just nothing.
When higher functioning kicked in, I pivoted on my heel and… ran. I had no idea where I was or where I was going. I was deep in their—his—territory. There was noplace for me to run, nowhere to hide.
They were all around me as I ran pell-mell down the street, those red eyes tracking me, fangs gleaming in the moonlight. Not one of them stalked me, though. Whispers followed me as I ran, but not one of them tried to stop me.
Suddenly I was picked up off my feet, my body floating off the ground, my back to his chest. My balance was thrown off and my stomach lurched. Right before he lifted me, I felt him brush against my mind. Just a second or two. I had to wonder if that was the tie he’d spoken of earlier.
I also knew why none of the others had interfered. Lander had me well in hand, apparently. I fingered the knife on my hip, wondering how much he thoughthe had me under control. Maybe if I stabbed him, I could…? Dammit. The thought bothered me. Since when did killing one of these things bother me? What the hell? What exactly was this bond between us?
“Easy there.” Lander held me close as we hovered above the ground. “I take it my news comes as a shock. I am sorry for that, but how can you not know this? I thought—”
I shivered in his arms. “Humans don’t know that much about your kind. We hate you, you kill us.”
Lander sighed heavily, his breath ruffling my hair. “Maybe your tribe of humans’ feels that way. Not all do. Have you not noticed the humans here in the city?”
“Right, humans as pets. You know, I’d think more clearly if my feet were on the ground.”
Lander’s soft laugh wrapped around me as he lowered us to the ground. “One day we will soar over the city because you have asked. Now, those you see are not all pets. Actually, most are mates.”
Once my feet were back on Earth, I pulled out of his arms and faced Lander. “Thanks, that’s better. Okay, we just assumed you mated with your own kind and used us as… entertainment.”
Lander ran his hand over my hair. “Some do, some don’t. Can’t the same be said of humans? Blade, we are more similar than you think. Like your species, my kind has good and bad in their midst. I do have to admit I have as much to learn about you as you do about me.”
I gaped at Lander.
“I’m not worried about others, Blade. It’s you that matters to me.”
“But, I don’t want to be a killer.” Even as the words left my mouth, I cringed. I was a killer. I had killed, maybe it wasn’t in cold blood, but I’d taken several lives through the years. I’d had to—it was either them or me, and I had no problem with that.
Lander nudged Blade’s chin up. “Killing because you haveto and killing because you liketo are two totally different things. I think you know that. You have killed because you’ve had to, yes?”
“Then I don’t think you’ll suddenly turn into a monster that thirsts for blood. You do know we can feed without killing?”
“No, that wasn’t in the pamphlet sent out by the local chapter.”
Lander shook his head, a smile once more playing around his mouth. He reached out and touched his human’s lips. So soft and warm. “I think I’m going to enjoy your sense of humor. Few rarely dare speak their mind to me.”
Lander moved closer. “Because I hold a position of power. I tend to intimidate others.” Lander ran his thumb over Blade’s bottom lip. “But, I don’t think I intimidate you.”
Blade’s mouth parted. “I-I-I… You could break me in half.”
Lander stepped closer, their lower bodies touching. “Why would I want to do that when bending you over the nearest surface is much more satisfying?”
“Mother of God.”
Lander heard the whispered words right before he sealed his lips over Blade’s. The warmth hit him first, followed by the softness. Lander buried one hand in Blade’s hair. His other hand grasped Blade’s hip, pulling them tightly together. Blade moaned, and the sound cut through Lander. So sweet, so… needy. That need would be his and only his.
“Open,” Lander breathed against Blade’s lips.
A brief hesitation, then Lander felt the tremble that raced through Blade. Slowly those lips opened and Lander swept inside, trembling himself at the first taste of Blade. Oh yes, the male tasted as good as he thought he would. Their tongues dueled, caressing and rubbing against each other. Lander tightened his hand in Blade’s hair, tilting his head back a bit more.
“So sweet.” Lander nibbled at Blade’s lips, then moved to his jaw.
“What… what…?” Blade shivered again.
“Shhh. All I’m doing is kissing you. Nothing more.”
“No, my sweet, no biting.”
Lander did nip Blade’s throat, a small little sting that didn’t even break the skin. Of course he wasn’t going to bite Blade out there in the middle of the street with other Derkelyng not far away. He’d be buried deep in Blade’s ass first. Blade wasn’t ready, either. They still had many things to talk through.
And, frankly, Lander didn’t relish the idea of Blade taking a knife to him. Although, he might not mind a little blood play, as long as Blade knew it was play. He wouldn’t convert Blade until Blade askedfor it. When Blade thrust against him, Lander came back to exactly where they were.
He brought the kiss to an end, his thumb tracing over Blade’s wet lips. “Will you come with me to my apartment?”
“I want to finish what was started here. I need to make love to you—claim you.”
“No biting?” Lander bit his lip, frowning.
“Okay, then. How far is it?”
Lander pulled Blade against his chest. “Just walking? It’s a little bit of a hike. Lean your head on my shoulder and close your eyes. You’ll feel the breeze as I move through the streets. I’m going to be moving at a high rate of speed, but I won’t allow you to get hurt. We’ll be a few inches off the ground, not actually flying. Will you allow this?”
“As long as we’re close to the ground.”
Lander grinned. “One day we willfly.”
Blade grunted, but didn’t say a word as he leaned his head against Lander. Once he had Blade comfortable, Lander lifted off the ground, just a few inches, and moved quickly down the street. Not a word came from his human, but Lander did feel Blade clutching his shirt. So brave. What a mate he will be.
He glanced down. Blade’s eyes were squeezed tightly closed. Lander hummed in pleasure as Blade buried his face deeper in his shirt to avoid the wind. He held Blade closer when he felt that slightly cool nose sniff his skin. Every instinct said to hell with it, bite Blade. All he’d need was a few seconds to sink his fangs in and inject the venom… and that would be it.
Blade wouldn’t be able to move, and Lander could drain him nearly dry, then give Blade his blood. By nightfall of the next night, Blade would be one of them. He’d have all the strengths the Derkelyng had.
And Blade would probably take his head for that too.
“We’re almost there,” Lander whispered and felt Blade nod.
Moments later, Lander set Blade on his feet in front of a huge steel and glass building. “This is mine. My business is here, as is my home. The whole building is mine.”
Blade staggered, his hand reaching for Lander as his knees tried to buckle. “Wow, I didn’t know you guys lived in such nice… I mean, I thought…Shit, never mind.”
“You thought we lived like animals?”
“You thought we live like animals because we areanimals, yes?”
Blade defiantly raised his eyes. “If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…”
Lander’s shoulders shook with laughter. “I haven’t heard that in a long time. And that well may be the case, at times. But not always. I also know what else you’re going to say.”
Blade crossed his arms. “What’s that?”
“That you’ve never seen one of my kind act as anything other than a monster.”
“If the shoe fits, buddy.”
Lander’s soft chuckle echoed around them. “I swear, I haven’t laughed this much in ages. Thank you, Blade. Now, will you come with me?”
Lander held the door open, watching as Blade walked past and into his building. His soon-to-be mate had a fine ass. He couldn’t wait to wrap his hands around it. The other Derkelyng that worked in his building respectively lowered their eyes as he escorted Blade to the elevators that would take them to the top floor—his home.
He understood humans thought they were nothing more than animals. There was a time that was correct, in the beginning.
The war had destroyed so much, but it had hit the humans especially hard. But now, pure Derkelyngs—like Rider and others—were trying to change that. They were attempting to rebuild, and then, maybe, they could help the humans. But it was going to take time. The humans thought the Derkelyng were animals? Well, way too many Derkelyng thought of humans as… cattle.
Blade’s head was constantly moving as he looked around. “Wow, nice place you’ve got here. I thought most of the building had been destroyed during the war.”
“That’s true. The big cities up north were hit especially hard. The capital of this country was located there. That was where the first wave of attacks was located. By the time the war had gotten down here to the south, the fighting wasn’t as bad and the destruction wasn’t as significant.”
Lander eyed a fish tank in the middle of the walkway. “Shit, you have electricity and running water full time?”
Lander motioned to the elevators. “Indeed. One hundred ten floors is a lot to walk up and I like a hot bath as well as the next guy.”
Blade frowned at the elevator doors. “Are you sure this is safe?”
“As safe as most anything else in this life.” Lander held the elevator door open. “If it helps, I’ve never been trapped in one. And if something did happen, I could get us out.”
Blade blew out a breath and stepped in the elevator. “Right, that whole ‘stronger than a human’ thing.”
Lander followed Blade inside. “It’s going to take time, Blade, but I do think our two peoples can live together in peace.”
“With your species as the dominate ones.”
“Well, humans aren’t at the top of the food chain anymore, I’m afraid to say. So yes, the Derkelyng will probably be the dominant class.”
“And humans will be second-class citizens.”
Lander didn’t say anything as the elevator stopped and then opened. “I don’t know what to say except that both races have a long way to go before we can even think about such things. For right now, let’s just concentrate on us. That, at least, we can do something about.” Lander stepped off the elevator into a spacious apartment. “Won’t you join me, Blade? Welcome to my home.”
But then again, anything beats dirt floors and cave walls. And Heaven help me, he has lights and running water. Oh man, there has to be hot water too. I bet the one thing I don’t find around here is something to eat.
I walked into the main room, which was decorated in black and white.
Fuck, I’m afraid to touch anything. All that white is just asking to get messed up.
There were metal lamps on glass tables and a fireplace at one end of the room. I saw an eating area off to the side.
Huh, bet he can cook in there. Well, that is if he actually ate.
Through a partially open door, I saw what appeared to be a working bathroom. Which would be great, except the Derkelyng didn’t need bathrooms. They didn’t eat, didn’t sweat, didn’t… didn’t do anything that a living person did.
I glanced in an oval mirror over a sink. It had been a long time since I’d seen my reflection. The wetness from the earlier rain had darkened my light blond hair. Tired brown eyes with dark circles under them stared back at me. For someone so young, I looked old and used-up.
I jumped when Lander hugged me from behind. There was that damn scent again, swirling inside my head, making me want.
“Let me show you the bedroom, my sweet.”
I took a deep breath, trying to calm my pounding heart. Lander grabbed my hand and I stumbled along. My knees were shaking, and the bulge at the front of my pants was more than a little noticeable. Lander stopped in front of a door, glanced down at me and licked his lips.Well Jesus, I just thought I was hard. Fuck, I want to bite those lips.
With a grand display, Lander threw open a door and gestured to a large room dominated by a bed covered in white fur. All the furniture was black, even the floor looked black, but it gleamed. That was kind of cool. I knew there was stone that had that kind of shine, but I didn’t know the name of it. Wasn’t like there was much of it from where I came from.
There were abstract pictures on the walls, done in black and white, and… I raised an eyebrow. One whole wall was glass. I stepped over to it and looked down. The night lights were spread out below.
I waved at the glass. “Um, that’s kind of dangerous, isn’t it?”
Lander glanced at the windows and shrugged. “The glass is nearly impossible to break and coated in a pitch-black tint. You just can’t tell that at night. Plus, as a backup, there are metal shutters that close before daybreak.”
“Still, I’d think you wouldn’t want glass within an inch of you.”
Lander smoothed my damp hair off my neck. “I like to live dangerously.”
A full body shiver racked me as cool lips touched the side of my neck. “You must.”
Lander’s hands reached around to undo the buttons that ran up my shirt. “I get the feeling I’m not alone in that, though.”
I didn’t answer. I was too busy watching my shirt being opened a button at a time. Lander’s slim, nimble fingers spread my shirt open, exposing my chest as his lips skimmed up my neck. Those pale hands eased my shirt off, letting it drop to the floor. I held my breath as those hands returned to touch, to stroke.
Lander’s fingers traced a scar on a rib, then continued the journey up my chest, heading closer and closer to… My breath rushed out as he ran a nail over my nipple. Both nubs beaded, standing up, wanting more attention. Lander rubbed his finger over the peak, teasing it until I thought I’d scream. I wanted… I wanted…
“How do you think it would feel if I played with both?”
“I-I-I…” That was a far as I got.
Lander grasped both nipples, pulling and tugging… and my brain short-circuited. Never had I felt anything like it. The sensations went straight from my nipples to my cock. I couldn’t think, all I wanted was more. The harder he tugged, the more I ached for more.
Shit, I’d had sex before, but it had been nothing more than getting off. We certainly didn’t touch each other, not for pleasure. It had been all about getting a cock up an ass, and that was all. There was no kissing, no playing with nipples. I certainly never had been into pain. But the harder he twisted, the more precome my cock wept. If he kept that up, I might just come.Shit, what had I been missing all this time?
“Fuck,” I whispered, both of my hands covering Lander’s.
“Are you trying to stop me, or trying to help?” Lander ground his dick against my ass. I wanted to feel that as soon as I could with no clothes between us.
“I…” A slightly hysterical giggle popped out of me. “I’m not sure.”
Lander trapped both nipples between his fingers, the tips aching and stiff above his fingers. “Rub your fingers across them. Feel what I feel when I touch you.”
“Jesus.” Okay, that was fucking hot. Then I ran the pads of my fingers across those trapped nubs and my knees damn near buckled from the shock. “Holy shit.”
“You are so responsive. I can’t wait to make love to you, show you all the things… You’ll lose your mind, trust me, at what I want to do.”
I licked my lips. “Like… like what?”
Lander pinched my nipples harder. “Mmm, I think I’d like to clamp these pretty nips with clothespins, first off. Something nice and easy that won’t freak you out too much.”
I arched against Lander. “Clothespin? There? And that won’t freak me out?”
Lander’s hand drifted down to the bulge in my pants, the heel of his hand rubbing hard against my cock. Then that naughty hand pinched the inside of my thigh near my dick. “Not as much as having the pins down here.” A desperate moan echoed through the apartment. Was that me moaning like that?
“Holy… fuck.” I rubbed my ass harder against his dick. Shit, that sounded like it hurt, and I fucking couldn’t wait. I was hard enough to pound nails. “Do… do that again.”
“Huh, seems like we might have the making of a pain slut here.” Lander’s fingers caressed the top of my stomach, making the muscles jump under his fingers. I grunted when he pinched the skin right above the waistband of my pants.
“Oh, my sweet, yes. Whatever you want, I’ll give you.”
Lander undid the button on my pants. I never knew pants being unzipped could sound so sexy. Suddenly, I couldn’t wait. I jerked away from the shelter of his arms and sat on the bed. Off came my boots.
“I want… I want… Fuck, Lander. I want to feel you busting my ass open.” I undid all the buckles and snaps on my pants and wiggled out of them.
Lander launched himself at me and we fell across the bed. Between his hands and mine, we managed to strip him too. We rolled around on that huge bed, the fur bedspread tickling my legs, clothes thrown everywhere. My hands were all over him, touching and teasing. His body was like mine, long and lean, with very little hair… only cooler, much cooler.
Lander flipped us and I ended up on top of him, my knees by his hips, his body pressed to mine. “You are so beautiful, Blade. I can’t wait to make you mine.”
“Jesus, I’ve never… never… fuck, you’re a Derkelyng. What the fuck am I doing?”
Lander buried his hands in my hair and pulled me down closer to him. “I’m more than that, Blade. I’m also your mate. Yes, we are different, but…I’ve scented you. There’s no way I can let you go now. I need you, Blade.”
Shit, I wasn’t sure I could let him go now, either. And didn’t that just fuck the whole deal up? “I-I… fuck.”
Lander grinned at me. “Fuck sounds like a grand idea. Then maybe the rest will seem less threatening.”
“Yeah, screw it.”
Lander smoothed my hair out of the way. “Favorite position?”
“For me or you?”
Lander snorted. “How do youlike to be fucked?”
I nipped the tip of his nose. “Hands and knees. But you should know I’m not always going to be catching.”
“Huh.” Lander flipped us again.
Good thing I didn’t get motion sickness. I found myself on my hands and knees, just like I said, with my ass in the air.
“I have never bottomed, but I could with you, Blade.”
“You, you never have?” It has hard to think when there were slim, cool fingers exploring my ass. “Ah, you got something to—” Lube squirted in me and I nearly climbed off the bed.
“Christ, Lander, that’s cold, dammit.” I glanced back at him, hoping he’d see the promise in my eyes. “I’ll remember that.”
Lander patted one ass check. “I am sorry. You’re so warm and we’re so not. I didn’t think to warm it up. I will next time.”
Next time. Oh God, next time. As in doing this again, living together, being a couple, him changing me. Me being like him. That’s bad enough, but being mate to a House Lord? Someone as powerful as he is?
Lander’s fingers entered me, lubed up, and searching. This was going to be quick, I could see that. He stretched me open, and I enjoyed the burn. He also took the time to find my hot spot and, once he did, God, he ruthlessly played with that bundle of nerves until I was nearly begging for release. Again, I never knew what I was missing. Sex had never been like this for me. How was I going to give this up?
All thoughts fled my mind as he entered me. Yes, he was cooler than I was used to, but he took his time, listening to my body signals and giving me time to adjust. Jesus, he was big. That’s what I got for not checking out what was going up my ass. I’d been too desperate. And now… well. Now it didn’t matter.
“Fuck me, dammit.”
Lander grasped my hips and did what I asked. Holy shit, he knew how to use what he had. Every third thrust pegged my hot spot. He was using me so hard, we were moving across the bed. I was close to coming.
“Fuck, I’m close. You promised no biting, remember?”
Lander gripped me harder. “Right, now come!”
“Fuck!” I yelled as he filled me up with his come. It went on forever, his seed flooding me.
Lander slumped against me and I hit the bed, unable to support us both. My pants were right by my head, thrown there purposely by me. I reached out, gently opening one of the cargo pockets. There, in a pouch, was my trusty knife.
Gripping the hand, I groaned loudly. “Man, you’re suffocating me. Got to breathe, you know.”
Lander snorted but rolled over to his back. Quick as a snake, I straddled him, the knife in my hand. He hadto truly die. I knew that. He was one of the most powerful Derkelyng around and a child of Rider’s. If Lander was destroyed, this whole coven would be thrown into chaos. Maybe humans could get a toehold in this area. Maybe Rider would move on.
I raked the knife over Lander’s throat.
This was what I did. I was indeed a killer. Lander needed to cease to exist. And I certainly knew how to kill. The funny thing was I had ended up in the city by accident. But having Lander appear and claim I was his mate was a bonus I hadn’t expected. Neither was my reaction to him.
I looked into those glowing red eyes then down to the pitifully small scratch on Lander’s throat and knew I’d purposely not cut him hard enough. Hell, he was barely bleeding. The damn wound was healing before my eyes. The knife was sharp enough to take his head and I… I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t kill him. A low growl drifted up and Lander knocked the knife out of my hand.
Shit, I’m dead.
“I knew you were a killer. Actually, the name Blade is becoming known among our kind. I’m impressed.” Lander snarled as he flipped them once again. Blade was on his back, his eyes peeled wide-open. There was fear there… and acceptance.
Lander grabbed those slim legs and jerked them to his shoulders. “To try to kill me, while having sex… You are damn brave, Blade.”
Tears rose in Blade’s eyes. “I-I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t kill you. God help me, I couldn’t take your head.”
Lander slammed back into Blade, grateful Blade was still loose and wet. He thrust hard, but he made sure he was nailing that special bundle of nerves. Lander raised Blade’s legs higher, nearly bending him in half. Lander growled and thrust harder. Blade was moaning, trying to thrust back.
“I… do not—” Lander snarled as he reamed Blade’s ass “—have… that… problem. Come, damn you!”
Lander bellowed as Blade tightened around his cock, pulling his orgasm from him. Then, he struck, his fangs sinking into Blade’s neck.
“Ahhh, fuck!” Blade screamed as he came too.
Lander injected his venom, taking time to fill Blade up with every drop of both come and venom. Then he jerked back to stare at Blade, his red eyes glowing. “You are going to be a worthy mate.”
Blade’s mouth fell open. “Wh-h-at? Mate? But… but… you said no biting. I-I… Why would you do that? I thought you’d kill me after what I…”
“I have.” Lander tapped Blade’s lips. “Killed you, that is. I’ve fucked you, came in you twice, bit you. There’s no getting away now. You aredying.”
Blade shivered. Blood smeared Lander’s chin. “But… I assumed the bite was how humans are converted.”
Lander thrust against Blade, their cocks moving together through the precome Blade was leaking again. Lander ran his finger tips over Blade’s lips. He grinned when he noticed Blade tried to reach up and couldn’t. The venom was working.
“Such lovely skin, my sweet.” Landers voice then changed. “I’m surprised at you, Blade. You should neverassume anything. I would have thought a killer like you would be well aware of that lesson.”
Blade froze. “Are you telling me the rumors about sex changing a human are true?”
“Yes. You have my seed in you now and it’s changing you. All that is left is for me to give you my blood. It’s all about blood and come.” Lander bit into his wrist.
Blade tried to turn his head and couldn’t. “But, but… I don’t know
Lander held his dripping wrist over Blade’s mouth. “Open, Blade.”
Blade narrowed his eyes but did what he was told.
Lander sighed in pleasure from the frantic sucking at his wrist. “Ah my sweet, before you took the knife to me, I would’ve given you time. Now, we do it how I want, and I want you as my mate as soon as possible. You’re going to be one of the most deadly Derkelyng ever, my very own knife. I’m so proud.”
Six months later
Lander arrived at Lafayette Square. He waited by the bronze statue of Henry Clay as he’d been asked by his mate. The night was nice, the moon shining brightly. There was a slight fluttering in the air, and then Blade stood in front of Lander.
One day we will soar over the city because you have asked. Blade grinned. “Isn’t that what you told me back then?”
Lander reached for his mate. “Indeed, I did say that.”
Suddenly, Blade wrapped his arms around Lander and lifted them off their feet. He kept going until they were soaring above the buildings… just as Lander had said.
“Um, surprise,” Blade said as they floated.
“Surprise? Oh my sweet, for one as young as you to have this kind of power is unbelievable. I am so, so proud of you.”
Blade blushed. “I wanted to show you on our six month anniversary. I just hope I can get us back home.”
Lander hugged Blade tighter. “Don’t worry if you can’t, I’ll take the flying over. I’ll… ah…catch… If you know what I mean.”
Blade red eyes blazed. “Damn, wait until I get you home. I want you on your hands and knees… after I’ve cut your clothes off.”
Lander chuckled as they drew closer to home. “You and that damn knife.”
Blade winked. “Right, wasn’t it youwho suggested blood play, my mate? So don’t tell me you’re afraid of my little knife.”
Lander growled as his feet hit the ground. Blade had gotten them back to the apartment building. “Never, my sweet. You couldn’t hurt me then, and you can’t now. You are a fierce Derkelyng, and you are mine.”
“Got that fucking right.” Blade pulled his knife and sliced open Lander’s shirt. “Now get to stepping before I strip you out here. Bedroom, now.”
Lander’s laugh echoed on the night air.