Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: One Night Part 9

It's that time again! Wednesday Briefs, woo hoo! Now, I'm flying today to go visit family but I made sure I could have these updates ready for you in my absence. This week we had these prompts: "In what universe did you think..." or use: kumquat, canary and vitamin or "He had to chuckle when he saw..." or use: backwards, light, brandy or "The lady is a tramp..." or any other Cher reference.

I chose the prompt: In what universe did you think..." Enjoy!

One Night Part 9

Bear jerked awake. “Wha--

Kameron was sliding out of bed, holding the phone to his ear. “Hold on,” he said. “Go get dressed Bear.” There was an unspoken urgency in him voice that had me getting up immediately, even though Bear had no idea what was going on. When he grabbed his gun, even before he grabbed pants, Bear ran into his room and scooped up clothes from his suitcase and took them back into his room. He didn’t have any underwear but pulled on his jeans without them anyway.

“We’re coming.”

Bear yanked a t-shirt on inside out, too rushed to worry about it, barely holding in a yelp as he moved his shoulder too far and pain stabbed through the joint.

“Yeah. Meet us in the parking garage.”

Where were they going to go? Who was meeting them? Kameron dropped his phone on the bed next to his gun and then pulled on a shirt. He turned back to the dresser, grabbed his badge, and his holster. Bear’s heart raced as he stared at him, cradling his arm. “Put your sling on, Bear.”

He awkwardly fit the strap around his neck. It felt better with the weight taken off his shoulder. Kameron came around and smoothed the strap around Bear’s neck. He stood close, looking down at him and cupping the back of his neck. “Bear.”

Bear looked up at him, biting at his lip. “What?” He didn’t want to know, but Bear knew he was about to find out what would make Kameron call out like that. His eyes were shiny and his hand was shaking a little on Bear’s neck.

“Bear, he was shot.” Kameron closed his eyes and a tear slipped out. “Jimmy was shot.”

His heart stopped. Bear swore it felt like every atom in his body froze in that moment. He expected to hear that the safe house had been discovered, not that his brother had been shot.

“He’s okay, right?”

Kameron’s face was pale when he shook his head. “John said it was bad.”
Bear swayed and Kameron brought him into his body. Bear’s face rested against his chest; he could hear Kameron’s heart pounding a mile a minute. Bear’s was going now pounding so hard he thought it would explode.

Everything was a little dark around the edges of his vision so he closed his eyes. “He’s all I have left,” Bear whispered. “He can’t … he can’t ….” He couldn’t say he was dead; it just wouldn’t come out. “He can’t leave me.”

Kameron enveloped him in his arms, holding him close. “He won’t if he has a
choice, Bear, you know he won’t. We need to get to the hospital.”

The hospital. Again. He was starting to hate that place. “Is it safe?” Jimmy would kick his ass if Bear left the safe house and put himself in danger.

“No, but I thought that you should go anyway. You need to see him, no matter what happens. We’ll go to another safe house when we’re done. I’ll have someone come get our stuff, okay? For now, let’s just go.”

Bear nodded but didn’t move. “I don’t know if I can,” he said in a shaky voice. “If I move, if we go there, they might say that he’s dead.” Bear broke down and sobbed, fisting his hands in Kameron’s shirt. His body was going to shake apart and the only thing holding him together were those two strong arms wrapped around him. “Don’t let me go.”

He couldn’t have said if he wanted Kameron to stop the hug so they could go to the hospital, or if he meant something else. All Bear knew, right in that moment, was that his world was disintegrating.

“I’m not going to let you go, Bear. Jimmy isn’t the only one that cares about you. I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be with you as long as you need.” Bear nodded against Kameron’s chest, trying to stop sobbing. He had to get it together. Jimmy would either need him to tell him to behave and do what the doctors told him to so he could get better or … Bear would want to say good-bye, if he could.

He leaned back and wiped at his face. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. Jimmy has always known the risks. He told me when we went after the Zbrane that he knew exactly how dangerous this was. He was glad that I was with you, to keep you safe. He just wanted to make sure you didn’t have to worry about them.”

Kameron was trying to help, he knew he was, but all what his comments really did was make Bear feel guilty. He nodded. “Okay, let’s go.”


Watching Bear bite his nails all the way to the hospital made Kameron crazy. He tried to comfort the smaller man, but there was no getting through to him. Kameron sucked at that shit anyway. He’d only been on the force for a few years, and giving bad news never got any easier. He always felt like he bungled it up.

He parked at the hospital and followed Bear inside. He kept a hand on Bear’s back, trying to let him know he was there. There were a ton of cops in the waiting room; Loren was standing next to John, his face bone white. Most of the cops knew John and Kameron were gay, and it wasn’t easy, but they hadn’t faced the nastiness he’d heard from other precincts. Even if he did, he wouldn’t hide how he felt for Bear or stop giving him the support he needed.

“Bear!” Loren rushed over and grabbed Bear into a tight hug.

“Do you know anything?” Bear asked in a strangled voice.

“He’s in surgery. They said he coded at least once on the way over. He's touch and go,” John said from behind them.

“We have to stay positive.” Loren squeezed Bear. “He’s strong. He’ll make it.”


Now don't forget to check out the other great updates by the other briefer's flashing this week!

MC Houle     
Cia Nordwell     

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: One Night Part 8

Well it's Wednesday again! That means another update for One Night. Yay! So, this week we had various photo prompts and line prompts, and I chose to use, "But you said..." Okay, on to the story!

One Night Part 8

“But you said you cared about me and that was a lie.” Bear crossed his arm over his chest, cradling the one in the sling. Valentine’s Day had come and gone without any fanfare. Kameron tried to get him to come out for dinner but Bear decided a granola bar he’d stashed in his room was good enough.   He had enough work to do anyway with that pain in the ass client’s site upgrade to keep him busy.
But he was all caught up now. After taking his shower and getting dressed in his favorite jeans that Jimmy had at least remembered to bring, Bear had snuck out to the kitchen. He wanted to get some food to appease his growling stomach and a cup of coffee before he settled in with a good eBook. It’d been a long time since he’d had enough downtime to kick back and read for fun.

Too bad Kameron had been standing in front of the fridge. He had on sweats and a tank top that showed off his nice arms and shoulders. Bear felt his heart begin to pound a little and he was glad his pants were tight enough to hide the way his cock began to plump up. Holding the food hostage, Kameron had finally gotten Bear to listen to him for the first time in three days.
“I do so care. I didn’t at first, but I didn’t know you. I would never have lied to you about my feelings.”

Bear raised an eyebrow. “No, just the whole reason for us to meet and go out in the first place.” 

Kameron’s hands clenched into fists. “I said I’m sorry about that, and I won’t say it again. These guys are bad business, Bear. Jimmy was trying to protect you; neither of us meant to hurt you.”

If Bear was honest, he knew that. He’d always known it. But they did hurt him. Worse was his embarrassment over the fact that Kameron had been made to go out with him. “Would you have asked me out, if Jimmy hadn’t made you?”

Kameron ran a hand through his hair. “No,” he held up a hand when Bear went rigid, “but not because of who you are, or what you look like, or anything like that. I never would’ve been in Capstone if Jimmy hadn’t sent me there. It’s not my kind of place.”

“A gay bar?”

“A bar at all,” Kameron snapped. “I’m not some young twenty one year old high on the novelty of getting drunk and hooking up with random guys. I got sick of the bar scene a long time ago. I want—I wanted—a real relationship like the one I thought I could have with you after I got to know you. I wanted to tell you the truth after the very first date but Jimmy and Loren said you wouldn’t let us protect you if you knew we had found out about Vilem.”

Bear’s shoulders dropped and he sank into the kitchen chair. “I probably wouldn’t have.”

Kameron sank down to his knees in front of Bear. “I care about you,” he said softly. “Please give me a chance to prove it.”

The sincerity in Kameron’s expression was impossible to deny. Bear reached out with a finger and traced the fading bruise under one eye. “You’ve had to deal with a lot because of me.” Kameron trapped his hand against his cheek.

“Completely worth it.” He leaned forward and kissed Bear gently. The kiss grew deeper as Bear parted his lips and Kameron slipped his tongue inside before coaxing Bear into his mouth. Bear groaned. Kameron’s mouth was bitter, like he’d been drinking orange juice from the carton, and under that was the taste of the man. Bear wanted to devour him.

His stomach chose that moment to snarl angrily.

Kameron broke their kiss, his eyes huge. “What was that?”

Bear felt his cheeks heat. “I did come out here looking for breakfast.”

“Well, maybe next time you’ll eat the dinner I make for you.” Kameron grinned. “I can scramble some eggs, if you like? I’m not a great cook but I can make those.”

“Yeah, that’d be good. I like eggs.”

Kameron stood up and went back to the fridge, pulling out the carton of eggs and some milk. “Maybe while I’m doing this you can call Jimmy. I know he’s been stressed out over how mad you are at him.”

“I … yeah, I should do that.” Bear went into the other room and made the call.

Jimmy hadn’t broken down or anything, but when Bear apologized for calling him all those nasty names, he’d made his own apology. He’d even quietly returned Bear’s I love you just before they hung up. The rest of that day Bear enjoyed spending with Kameron. Now that there wasn’t anything hidden between them a certain tension that had existed in the tall man was noticeably absent. They’d begun on opposite ends of the couch but by the time they were watching a movie after dinner Bear was snuggled up against his side.

Bedtime brought a new routine. Kameron checked all the doors and windows like he did the previous nights but this time he went into Bear’s room. He set his gun and his cell phone down on the nightstand, and then crawled into bed in just his underwear.

Bear came in from brushing his teeth. “Just sleeping, right?”

Kameron smiled and held up the covers, showing off his pajama choice. “Just sleeping. I don’t want to risk hurting you, and my ribs are a bit sore. We have all the time in the world, Bear, but I would like to hold you.”

“Okay,” Bear said simply. He got into bed and they snuggled together and drifted off to sleep.
“Hello?” Kameron answered his phone in the dark, his eyes searching for the clock. His eyes widened. “No!”


Okay, if you're interested in joining the Briefer's group and sharing your own weekly flash fiction between 500-1,000 words, let me know. I can steer you toward the proper lady to speak with. For my strictly reader type blog visitors, you can move along to the rest of the Briefers below and enjoy their contributions this week!

Other Briefers:
Lily Sawyer     
MA Church     
MC Houle         

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Vampire Blog Hop!

Welcome to the Vampire Blog Hop! For my contribution I am sharing a brand new short story with my own personal spin on vampires. Please be aware this is a male/male story with some erotic content. Thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoy the hop!

Heated Blood

The world was a cold place. Ancient legends, handed down in my family for generations, were born again and now walked the Earth. The other survivors were men ruthless enough to keep themselves and their families alive. Danger stalked the heels of the helpless folk outside that protection … and I was the most helpless among them.
My pants were too tight to hide any weapons, even if I had them. I was far from physically intimidating, though I was at least quick when I ran. The man I was running from was a blue giant with long blond hair, and two long white fangs like daggers. I’d seen him a split second before he saw me. I knew his eyes would be locked on me, the inhuman stare shining as he chased me, but I wasn’t looking back at him as I panted for air; the ice made it hard enough to keep my footing.
I wove through the crowd, wishing for once that I wasn’t so appealing.
If the damn blue vamps weren’t so attracted to me then the giant might go for one of the others on the street. Not that I wished death on anyone but they always followed me.
And if they caught me ….
Darting into an alley, I pounded on a thick door set in a shadowed recess. “Let me in!”
The door swung open. “One’s coming,” I gasped. I was shoved aside, slamming into the rough brick corner. Pain exploded through my ribs.
“Move, bait.”
I shrank into the corner as the Order’s soldiers boiled out of the building. The giant roared when they came between us, his light eyes boring into me.
They always claimed me.
Everyone did, but not for me. No, everyone wanted to use me for my heat, my blood.
“Get inside.”
I jumped, smacking my head against the wall. “Ow. Fuck!”
The slap split my lip and sent my face back into the wall with bruising force. I fell to my knees, cradling my face with one hand as tears stung my eyes from the pain that exploded in my cheek. I was jerked to my feet by my hair. Steven, the leader of the Order, stood in the door. His thick body bundled into giant coat covered in a hard outer armor. He held an axe edged in silver in one hand and slung me out of his way with the other.
“Go to your room bait!”
He shoved past me to join the fight and I hurried inside. Sweat was soaking my thin t-shirt. I peeled it off, grimacing at the pain in my ribs as I prodded the already darkening bruise. My shirt was the only thing in the room I could use to wipe the blood off my face. I’d have to wash it in the shower.
The heat made my room feel like a furnace. The water in my shower was lukewarm and I cursed. They couldn’t even let me have my cold showers, keeping the water cistern warmed. I scrubbed my clothes and then my body. Drops of water dripped on the carpet as I wrung out the sodden fabric of my outfit and hung them over the shower rod. The light flickered and went out.
Naked, I padded through the darkness into my room. My face and ribs throbbed when I crawled onto my thin pallet.
Why me was a constant refrain through my mind as I waited in the dark to fall asleep. What made me special? I snorted, then winced. Special … right!
I was born when the world went to shit. Literally, the exact second. This flash of light lit up the globe apparently preceded a blast of frozen air that turned the seasons into one eternal winter. Millions froze instantly and died but some didn’t stay dead. The stories I’d learned from my grandfather named them Draugr, vampires from legends old before he was a boy my age. He warned me with graphic stories of their strength and their lust for heat and blood. The stories he told haunted my dreams.
No one knew what they really were, though. The Draugr he spoke of were vampires from the old country. His grandfather had told him the legends as he grew up in a remote village in Norway where the belief had never completely disappeared. Most of the world just called them monsters now. Grandpa said that naming something lessened the fear it had over you but, named or not, I had nightmares about them as a child even though I’d never seen one.
He’d raised me for many years after my mother and father froze trying to get to the car. Without him I would have died with them. From him I learned the old myths weren’t so mythical. Maybe the whole thing was a coincidence that they were so similar to the legends he told, but these men came back hulking blue giants driven by a need for heat. They rampaged among the populace seeking warmth from those still living, gorging on their flesh and blood. They were like zombies, unspeaking, unreasoning monsters that were almost impossible to track or stop by ordinary men.
My grandfather had tried to keep me hidden when my body temperature rose even higher during puberty, burrowing deep underground to make a room for me where it was always frozen. He thought he could hide my heat, but it hadn’t been enough. A giant had come for me through the earth itself, the stones set in the soil to create the smooth walls of my room were no hindrance as it waded through them like water. I’d screamed and Grandpa had come running with a knife—part of a silver set my grandmother had owned.
He told me to run. I didn’t want to, but he shouted at me as he slashed his knife at the snarling giant with glowing eyes that was even worse than my dreams. I ran and lived, but my grandfather died in that house. I was so afraid, I ran to the Order to get the hunters to save him. They killed the Draugr. But that day but they also learned my secret that my grandpa had worked so hard to conceal.  
I was an irresistible lure that drove the Draugr crazy.
In a frozen wasteland of a world where the sun’s warmth no longer reached us, I alone seemed immune to the arctic temperatures. It got worse as I fully matured. I felt like my blood boiled inside my veins when I was forced to be in a room with the normal people, the heat blasting to keep them warm. Outside felt good to me, the arctic temperature temporarily cooling me but every time I went out the Draugr found me.
The Order had kept me safe even as they used me, but to them, I didn’t even have a name. I was given a room; I was protected and fed, but only as long as I was of use to them. In this world there was no mercy for the weak without someone who cared for them. With the death of my grandpa anyone who might have cared about me for more than what they could use me for was gone. I was bait, used as a means of making their job of cleansing cities of the Draugr easier so the people of the cities we cleansed would continue to pay them.
The giant blue vampires hunted me every time Steven forced me out. I knew the Order wouldn’t shed a tear if I was caught by one someday.  Fingering the bruise on my face, soothing the abraded skin, I wondered why I hadn’t died with my mother and father. What had happened to me in that flash of light during my first seconds of life that had doomed me to this fate?
Why me?
My clothes were nearly too small and the fabric over my knees had grown threadbare. I hadn’t grown any taller since the Order had taken me in, so they fit all right for length but the damn things were like second skin on me.  I never wore them in my rooms, trying to preserve them as long as possible.
“Get up, it’s time for you to do your job.” The harsh voice through the door made me flinch and scramble into my clothes. I tugged on my hair, pushing it behind my ears, wishing the pattern of my nights were different.
I opened my door. “I thought we’d cleansed this city.” They’d been packing, leaving the screwed on metal coating of my room for last as usual. They’d sent me out the night after the last Draugr attack but nothing showed up.
Rand, Steven’s errand boy, stood outside my room. The wave of heat from the corridor made sweat break out on my forehead. He shoved a sandwich at me. “Apparently not.”
I grimaced at the smell of the peanut butter sandwich. Still, I knew I’d need the energy. Rand spun on his heel and I followed him. Some soldiers were strapping on armor over coats; others were testing the edges of their weapons and polishing the silver coating that allowed them to remove the heads of the Draugr.
All the guards were getting ready to go out instead of packing up. Usually I combed whatever city hired us, either going to where the worst attacks were or I’d wander, tempting the Draugr come out so they could be ambushed by the following patrol. Last week I’d thought I was safe. The soldiers shadowing me had decided to stop for a little morning drink and tumble and I’d been ordered back to our temporary headquarters. I’d thought that none of the monsters would show up after an entire night spent wandering the city until the sun was nearly ready to rise. For it to have sensed me, I must have walked right over where the Draugr had buried itself in preparation to wait out the day. Alone, without the soldiers of my patrol, I’d been forced to lead it to the headquarters. 
Steven had not been happy. I’d been restricted to water and a peanut butter sandwich a day and left in my room in the dark when he wasn’t sending me out.
 I swallowed thickly, desperately wishing for a cold glass of milk. Grandpa had gotten some once and it had been the best thing I ever tasted. “What’s going on?”
“An apartment building on the outskirts of the city was ravaged. Four families, all drained and partially eaten.”
My mouth dropped open. “Four?” That meant—
Steven stepped through the open doorway and I immediately focused on him. I never wanted to be in a room and not know where he was. Rand was rude but he kept his hands to himself most of the time. Steven seemed to enjoy watching me cower and struck me unexpectedly quite often. “Listen up men!” The guards snapped to attention when their leader’s voice boomed through the room.
“We thought this city was clean,” he shot me a glare, “but apparently there is a nest that our bait failed to root out. This attack wasn’t witnessed but an entire building was slaughtered. There’s no doubt; this was the work of a group of those blue bastards.”
I wrapped my arms around my body to try and still my shaking. I’d run into a group once before. I guessed that maybe they’d died together, or they’d been a family of some sort. I hadn’t slept for days afterward. I’d almost been bitten; one of them had grabbed my arm hard enough to crack my wrist so badly before a soldier took off his head that I was unable to use it for weeks. The final two Draugr had been smaller than most but they fought just as viciously to reach me. Staring into the blackness of my room, I’d wondered what made them stay together. What if they weren’t as mindless as we thought? If they could stay together, they obviously had a strong connection.
But was it a connection that had been forged in their before-the-flash of light life or in their vicious after-the-flash of light life? I wasn’t sure which would be worse.
A blow to my cheek made me stumble sideways. “Pay attention.” Steven stood before me. My nose and cheek burned and I could feel a thin trickle of warm hit my lip. I wiped it away. I’d been so lost in my memories of that attacked I’d missed the details for this one. I risked another blow by revealing that but I had to ask.
“I’m sorry.” I kept my head bowed, not looking away from Steven’s hands. “I … What am I supposed to do?”
He made a derisive noise and I tensed. “One of these days you are going to prove yourself so worthless I’ll throw you out. You’re the bait, the same as always. You’ll check out the area around the apartment building. It used to be some sort of manor house or something so there’s a garden in the back and some big lawns. You will find their resting places and lead them to us.”
Gasoline was at a premium; all types of fuel were, but the Order rarely went in need for much of anything. I sat wedged in the back of a vehicle on the floor behind the seats. The sky was already darkening to the east as the eternal clouds lit up in a brilliant red display to the west, colored by the passing of the hidden sun. Grandpa said he’d never seen such vivid colors before the light flashed; it was the lone beautiful thing the end of the world had brought.
“Fucking neverending winter,” one of the soldiers griped. “It should be hot right now.” He leaned his head back against his seat and sighed. “I remember going to the beach to surf after dinner on hot summer evenings, the sun never seeming to stay just above the horizon for hours. Now it’s always dark early and cold as fuck.”  
I knew it would be close to night when we stopped; none of the stars would be visible that Grandpa used to tell me about. Only the weakest pale light from the moon would filter down. I’d only seen the craggy white surface in books. As scared as I was of what I was expected to do, I longed to be out of the metal box of the vehicle with its loud noise and blowing heater.
Another guard snapped, “Stop bitching, Garler. Your California surfing days are over. Some stupid fuckers decided to blow up the sun or something and now it’s cold as fuck and we got monsters crawling out of the ground.”
“Both of you shut up,” Steven ordered. “No one blew up the sun. It’s still there behind the clouds.”
No one knew who’d done it either. A lot of governments blamed each other, leading to hostilities between once allied countries. Once it sank it the clouds weren’t going away after a few years countries started worrying less about who did it and more about how to survive it. I’d never seen the TV shows Grandpa told me about that used to come from satellites high above the Earth. Telephones, computers and a lot of other fancy electronic devices were useless. Food, fresh food—especially any greens—were next to impossible for a normal person to get.
Steven enjoyed his salad every night though.
Finally we left the city. It was only minutes later that the cars slowed and we came to a stop. I waited in the back, but it never took them long to get me out. No one wanted a Draugr to attack when they were still in the vehicle.
“Go draw them out, bait.”
I enjoyed the cool breeze cooling the sweat on the back of my neck. Even with the fuel shortage, there were some light on there. Here it was dark. I could only see a few feet in front of me. The Draugr could be out of their hiding places in the ground this late, or they could be down there, lying in wait of a warm body to stroll by.
“Could I get a light?” I dared to ask.
A battered old flashlight was slapped in my hand. I checked the bulb, which only let out a weak light, and then shut it off. Hopefully it would last. The leader pointed to a set of steel sheets the soldiers were quickly setting up. Several fastened to the vehicles that made reinforced walls and then slotted together to protect them from underground attacks.
“Bring those blue motherfuckers here, you understand?” I wanted to ask if he thought I was stupid, but I didn’t need my vision impaired by the slap I’d get, so I nodded and kept my mouth shut. Steven zipped up his jacket with his armor over it, shivering. “And don’t take all fucking night this time. I’m cold.”
“Yes sir.”
He turned away and I flicked on the light, running it over the big lawns toward the garden. The Draugr could be anywhere. My hand trembled and the light shook. I hated this but it was the only thing I was good for and the only reason why the Order kept me alive. I was Steven’s secret weapon to gaining all the luxuries he wanted.
“What the fuck are you waiting for?” I stumbled forward when he turned around and shoved me when I didn’t begin walking away immediately. Pain radiated from the blow in the middle of my back. So much for keeping my vision clear. I blinked the tears away, refusing to let them fall where the soldiers could see me crying.
No weakness. Weakness would get me killed.
I walked up and down the lawn. I regulated my breathing, counting silently to five each time I breathed in, refusing to lose control. I’d need air to run if I found the Draugr.  
Nothing happened. It was time to move to the overgrown garden at the back of the building. I was thankful I didn’t have to go inside. I didn’t want to see the rooms where the families had died. Even with the Draugr consuming the blood there was always some spilled, plus other effluvia that accompanied a body’s last moments seemed to linger.
Only twenty, I’d seen more than my fair share of death. Even in this world where survival was more tentative than at any time in recorded history, I was witness to so many gruesome scenes. There was something inherently wrong about the way the Draugr could be punched, shot, and cut as they went after their target but refused to go down until their heads were removed by a silver blade or their bodies were completely destroyed by fire.
I wished I had a sword as I made my way into the wild growth. I could see dark earth in the distance where the families had grown what crops could survive the low light and cold frost. Would the Draugr like the soft soil? Did it matter to them? We mostly caught them in the cities where there were more people to prey on so I had no idea.
My flashlight dimmed, flickered and then went out. “Not now, shit. Not now!”  I smacked it against my palm frantically as my head swiveled. Sometimes when they rose I could hear the ground falling from their bodies.
“Come on.”
My heart was racing. I started backing up slowly. Maybe I could get another flashlight. Steven couldn’t expect me to find the Draugr in the pitch blackness.
“Turn on, come on!” I smacked the end of the flashlight hard with my palm and the light turned back on.
And lit up a wall of blue skin not ten feet in front of me.
I gasped and spun around to run.
There was another one blocking my path. I would have backed right into him. His eyes glowed as he stared at me.
“Shit,” I whimpered.
One chance. I had seen a back door gaping wide open ten feet to my left. If I could go through it and lead them through the building, I might be able to make the front lawn. I was more agile than they were with their lumbering strides.
I ran. Snarls broke out behind me. Maybe they would fight and take each other out.
Like I would be that lucky. I stumbled into the house, gagging in the fetid air. My light bounced crazily as I tore for the front door, making my way through the maze of furniture and junk littering the floor.
The door was just in front of me, hanging off its top hinge. I could see the bright lights from the trap in the small gap. I could hear the Draugr behind me. I was almost there.
A human shape blocked the light. I wobbled, my arms wind milling and I tried not to crash into it.
I failed.
We went down in a heap.
Momentarily shocked, I stared down at the man under me. He was dressed in black, a long soft coat buttoned down his chest with bright silver buttons. My light had fallen when I hit the ground and it shone right on his face, lighting up his pale skin and shiny emerald green eyes. I gaped for a precious second.
“We have to go!” Was he a survivor? One of the neighbors? “The monsters are coming!”
“They will not enter in here.” His voice was a slow drawl like he was from the South.
I had no idea why I was still on top of him. I tried to shove backward off him and get to my feet. I had to run. I didn’t care what he said, I knew nothing would stop the Draugr from seeking out my heat. I had to get out the front door and lead them to the trap before they caught me.
“I have help outside; the Order will help you. Come with me.” I stood up, my chest heaving. I offered a hand to the man on the ground. He took it and I started to pull him up. He rose much easier than I expected for a man of his bulk.
“Oh no. I think you’re coming with me.” The man tugged me close into his body and I caught what I’d missed before.
Twin fangs peeked from his barely open mouth. But he wasn’t blue.
“What are—” His other hand encircled my throat and began to squeeze. I struggled as he pulled me into his body, putting my back to his chest. I could see two sets of glowing eyes in the door but they didn’t come closer. Instead, they faded away. Nothing I did made any difference to the vampires hold on me but I couldn’t stop struggling. My flashlight went out and all I could see were those eyes, the symbols of my death.
I’d always known one of them would get me.
Waking up naked in a soft bed covered by a silky sheet was not what I expected to happen.
I hadn’t expected to wake up at all.
What had happened? Was I dreaming? Was I dead and this was my reward for a life of misery?
I tried to sit up. My head swam and the room spun around me. I leaned forward into my hands, groaning. I swallowed several times, trying to keep the contents of my stomach inside. Peanut butter sandwich doesn’t taste any better coming out.
This could not be any sort of afterlife I would want.
But …
“I apologize if you are feeling ill. I did not wish to harm you but I knew you would not come with me unless I took away your choice in the matter.”
The voice was unexpected, but not unfamiliar. I’d heard it only once before, but that was enough. I scrambled away, falling off the bed and crab-walking backward until I was pressed against the wall.
He sat in a chair on the other side of the bed. His eyes were the same bright green, his skin the same milky white. I could see he had brown hair with streaks like the old mahogany table my grandfather had when I was growing up.
The man—vampire—smiled, exposing his two sharp fangs.
There wasn’t a drop of blue on him. I’d yet to hear the one word they always uttered, mine, and he didn’t seem like he was ready to attack. He was leaning back, one leg crossed over the other, his hands resting on the arms of the black leather chair, studying me. His jeans and brown sweater were almost out of place on him.
My hands shook as I pressed them against the wall, pulling myself to my feet slowly to avoid setting him off. My voice wasn’t any steadier when I spoke.
“What … what are you?”
He tilted his head to one side. “You truly don’t know? After your comments back at that ghastly house, I was sure you were quite in the know. Do you not even wish to venture a guess?” He didn’t even attempt to hide his fangs when he spoke.
“Vampire.” I knew it. But a vampire that could talk? Actual hold a conversation? “But not like the blue ones, the Draugr.”
“Indeed. Not like the blue one, those you have deemed the Draugr.” He inclined his head in my direction. “I am nothing like those you seem to have encountered before. I had wondered if any would remember those old legends. Strange that you do.”
Maybe if I kept him talking he wouldn’t attack me. “Why?” I asked cautiously. “Why me?”
“Just the dichotomy of a new legend coming to life, and knowing about, the old legends. It is a curious thing.”
I was a legend? “What legend am I?”
He shook his head. “Ah, but to explain that would take more time than I have now. There are other things I must do.” He rose from his chair and I took several steps along the wall toward the tall cupboard thing in the corner, my heart beginning to pound in my chest again. Was this the time I would die?
The frown on his face and the way his eyes darkened sent my heart racing even faster. It hurt and I could hardly breathe.
“If you do not calm yourself, you will pass out again, this time through no action of mine.” He stepped around the edge of the bed and I made a high-pitched sound in my throat, a rising whine.
“You really need to calm down. I will not hurt you.”
I shook my head. “Lie,” I managed to gasp out.
He drew back, his expression affronted. “I beg your pardon; I do not lie.”
The glare I tried to direct at him must have been laughable but as scared as I was, and as tired of my life as I had grown, I did not want to die.
He sighed. “I only wished to get you something to put on. From the marks on your body I can venture that your assumption that I will hurt you, even though I have said I will not, is from past experience.”
He saw the marks on my back. I flushed, my hands clenching at my sides. I looked down and realized the reason he wanted to get me clothes was that I was still naked.
“Shit.” I covered my soft cock with my hands. I was too used to going about naked, but I never did it in front of anyone else. The distraction of my nudity eased the lock on my chest and, while mortified, I didn’t feel like I was about to keel over again either.
My head whipped up when the vampire took a step forward. “Stop!”
Sighing, he stepped back. “As you wish. I do not know if you can remain on your feet without the bracing of the wall, but if you can you will find a robe on the inside of the door of the armoire to your left.”
I had to hang onto the door, but I got it open and found the robe he mentioned hanging on a hook. It was dark blue silk. I’d never felt anything as expensive.
I hesitated to put it on.
“Go ahead,” he urged me. “I think being clothed might help you relax.”
“Why do you want me to relax so much?” I asked as I struggled to put it on. I didn’t want to take something from the vampire but I wanted to be naked around him even less. The collar of the robe covered most of my neck and my shoulders relaxed downward from my instinctive hunch as I belted the garment tightly around my narrow waist.
“Should any host not want his guest to be relaxed and comfortable in his home?”
“You brought me back to your lair?” I asked, aghast.
He laughed. “Lair? Truly? You think all this is what, some dank cavern or hidden hole underground prettied up by stolen furniture?”
I shrugged one shoulder. “How should I know? You said I was a guest but you knocked me out and brought me back here unconscious. I could be anywhere in the world and I wouldn’t know any better. You took me from the Order.”
Inclining his head he said, “Very true.” He sat down again. “Would you please sit? I think I should explain a few things about myself and where you are.”
I wouldn’t go sit in the other chair. I edged over to the bed and sat on the upper edge, ready to jump up if I needed to.
The entire situation was so surreal.  
“Where am I, as your … guest?”
My jaw dropped. “How is that possible? How did you keep me out? We must have traveled for hours!”  
He shrugged one shoulder. “I think you were tired.” He might have been right about that. I hadn’t slept well in a long, long time. I wasn’t going to admit it.
“Of course it had nothing to do with the fact that you choked me until I was unconscious, then did who knows what to me to make sure I stayed that way.”
He shook his head. “Nothing was done to you. I placed you in the backseat of my car, nothing more.”
I remained stubbornly silent. I had no reason to trust a vampire, even one as strange as this guy. He sighed.
“I can see things are not going to be as easy as I’d hoped.”
“You don’t like it when dinner has free will and doesn’t care to get drank to death? Poor you.”
The vampire pinched the bridge of his nose with two long fingers. “I do not want to drink you to death.”
“Bullshit! All vampires ever do is chase me down and try to claim me for their next meal.” I gripped the edge of the bed, tensing my legs to jump and run when the vampire stood up. He stood there for long seconds, staring at me with those crystal green eyes as if he could see inside me to my soul.
“You have had several shocks today,” he said finally. “And I presume your life has been a difficult one. However, you are quite young and there are more things in this world than you can possibly know. It is terribly sad that you view the world through such a jaded perspective that you cannot see past your own negative experiences to see things as they truly are.”
“Whatever.” Kidnappers were good guys. Right.
He moved to the end and I slid off the bed, putting my back to the wall.  I crossed my arms over my chest.
“Oh for fucks sake!” he snapped. I flinched, my eyes shutting reflexively when he growled.
There. Finally, a sign of anger. I was strangely relieved for the familiar emotion; at least I knew what to expect. I waited for the blow. When I looked back up his lips were nearly white they were pinched together so hard.
“I’m leaving now. I will have food brought for you, and you can rest. There are some books on the mantle if you are bored,” he paused, “if you can read, that is.”
“Of course I can!” I clenched my hands into fists. “I’m not ignorant.”
“Good, then you will not be too bored. There is an en-suite through the door there,” he pointed to a white door just barely ajar, “where you will find towels and other items you might need to refresh yourself.”
He didn’t wait for me to respond. Turning, he marched to a door. His odd coat’s tails fluttered a little, he moved so quickly as he left. There was a click of a lock turning from outside. I waited a minute and then went to test the doorknob, just in case. It was really locked.
A shower sounded really good to me, though I didn’t want to be naked when whoever he sent came in. I decided to shower but keep it really short. I was very surprised by the lock on the bathroom door, but realized it was probably no barrier to a vampire’s strength. I locked it anyway.
The water got cold, which was nice, but as I stood under the fancy showerhead inside the glassed enclosed shower, I realized something I’d failed to realize until that moment.
I wasn’t as hot as I usually was. I actually felt better than I had in years.
Being indoors was enough to make me break into a sweat. Any clothes I wore were generally damp with it, but I hadn’t been hot at all. But vampires had to stay warm, that’s why they were always after humans, seeking their heat. I should be sweltering.
Lost in thought, I lathered up my hands with a spicy smelling soap and began to wash. I barely noticed my bruises, I was so used to them, but the soap burned at my neck. My fingers slid over the area again and then I felt them.
Jumping out of the shower, I leaned close to the biggest mirror I’d ever seen, covering one side of the wall. Low on my neck, barely visible inside a dark round mark, were two tiny holes.
Bite marks.
“That mother fucking son a diseased whore!” I exclaimed.
“Hello?” a voice said. There was a knock at the door and the handle jiggled.
I jerked back and kept going until I was all the way back in the shower. “Go away!”
“Are you okay? I brought food.”
The cold water washed off the last of the soap. My stomach growled. “Leave it. I’m not going to come out until you’re gone.”
“But Tobias wanted me to talk to you and if you stay in there your eggs will get cold and rubbery.”
Eggs. My mouth watered at the thought of the rare luxury. “Who is Tobias? And why should I want to talk to you?” I got out and dried off, enjoying the soft plush towel. I drew on the robe as I listened.
“Tobias is the head of the … well, the vampires, here. They track down and get rid of those scary blue guys. He asked me to bring you some food. Oh, and Tobias thought you might like to talk to me because I’m like you. I’m not a vampire so you don’t have to be afraid.”
So Tobias was the name of the kidnapping bloodsucker that had chewed on my neck. I stood there for a minute with my hand on the door handle trying to figure out if it was trap.
“Hello? Are you going to come out? Talking through the door like this sucks. I’m not going to hurt you.”
I had to take the chance. Besides, if this guy was human like me, maybe he would help me escape or we could escape together. I unlocked the door and swung it open.
This guy was not what I expected at all. I thought he’d be small and weedy like me but he was pretty big and muscular, like the pictures of those wrestling guys I’d seen in an old magazine once. He had bright red hair, green eyes, and a big smile showing off his white teeth. His eyes weren’t as bright as Tobias’ though.
“I’m Paddy. It’s so nice to meet you; we haven’t had a new person in ages, and Tobias has never brought anyone home. Wow, you’re skinny! That robe is huge on you.”  I felt my face heat up as he babbled. He must have noticed. “Whoops, sorry, Cass is always telling me I talk too much. But, you’re probably hungry, right? I put your food over there.” He’d set it on the small table next to the chair where Tobias had been sitting.
“Thanks,” I mumbled. I didn’t move until he stepped back and I skirted the bed. I pulled the tray onto my lap in the chair and started eating quickly. I barely held in a moan at the buttery goodness of the eggs, decimating the pile as fast as I could shovel bites in.
“Whoa man, slow down. No one’s going to take it away.” I ignored him and kept eating. “Okay, so I guess I’ll talk. Wait, do you have a name?”
“Ba—” I started to say bait but that wasn’t my name, not really. I set the fork down on the edge of the plate. “My name is Jakob.”
“Nice to meet you Jakob,” Paddy said. “So, I bet you’re really confused. I know I was when Cass found me. I was a lot younger than you though.”
I took big bites of the toast, my eyes widening at the sweet taste of the spread on it. “How old are you? Wait, how do you know how old I am?” I sprayed some crumbs out of my mouth when I spoke and Paddy laughed.
“Well I’m twenty, like you.” He raised one blond eyebrow. “You have no idea what I’m talking about when I said I was like you, do you? We share a birthday, right down to the same second.”
“I know you’re human and not a bloodsucking parasite.”
“They’re not like that, you know.”
“The bite mark on my neck says otherwise,” I said. “Not to mention all the damn Draugr that chased me every time they got near me. The vampires want only one thing and apparently we’re no better than snacks.”
Paddy shook his head. “Tobias was trying to help you. When I say that I’m like you, I mean that I have a much higher body temperature than most humans. I was born at the exact moment the light flashed too. I was in a bad way when Cass found me in New York. When puberty hit my temperature rose so quickly that she said I was like a beacon. My family was attacked that night but Cass drove away the blue guys. I was really sick because of the heat in my blood, but when Cass drank from me my temperature went down. She takes care of me and I take care of her.”
I coughed and choked on my toast. Paddy handed me a glass of milk. I gulped it, forcing the lump of bread down painfully. I wanted to savor it, so I forced myself to only drink half. “You let a vampire feed off you?” I asked in a strangled voice when I stopped gasping for air. “So she’ll take care of you?”
The fact that he seemed to know something about why I was so hot all the time hadn’t escaped my notice but that information was too big. Way too big. Paddy letting a female vamp chomp down on his flesh was a much safer topic. Definitely.
A blush tainted his cheeks. Paddy shrugged with a crooked grin. “It feels good, you know? You know how nasty you feel when you get overheated, all dizzy and nauseated? Their feeding makes that go away. She never needs much; I’m so warm that she needs just a few mouthfuls a feeding.” He turned in the chair, resting his chin in his palm. “They’re not like those blue things that attack mindlessly. They’re real vampires. Cass says they’ve been around for a really long time, living beside humans.”
“How could they not have noticed vampires before the flash? They had satellites and all this technology, my grandpa told me about them!”
“Well, they didn’t go around attacking people like the blue guys do. Some of the vampires are even trying to get rid of them, like Tobias. He’s in charge of it, actually. They are trying to protect the regular humans that are left and survive themselves.”
His voice lowered. “They’re not all good though. There’s some that want vampires to control everything. Kinda like you said, about how we’d all just be snacks for them.” He gestured to the window. “They did that.”
I glanced out, the dim light barely shining on a small pond surrounded by a manicured garden. “What?”
“The sky,” he whispered.
No way.
“What?” I shouted.
“Shh!” Paddy whipped his head around and stared at the door. His whole body went limp when it stayed closed. He rested his head against the back of his chair and let out a big sigh. “Whew. Damn man, are you trying to bring Tobias down on my ass?”
I stood up, pacing in front of the empty fireplace. “Oh, so he doesn’t want me to knowing that the end of the world was his fault?”
Paddy exclaimed, “I didn’t say that!”
“The hell you didn’t!”
He shook his head. “I said he’s hunting down the blue zombie vampire things. He didn’t bring them back from the obscurity of their legends, or create the clouds. Vampires did, yes, but not him. He’s a good guy, Jakob.”
Before I could mention the biting without permission thing he went on. “He’s trying to help you but he’s not used to dealing with humans much. Just the ones that have always known about the vampires usually get fed on. But when the world started going to shit before we were born the vampires were struggling to survive. Humans were destroying the planet. Cass said she could barely go outside because of all the damage to the stuff up in the sky blocking out the bad rays from the sun. They wanted to live, just as much as I’m sure you want to in their place. They used these bombs filled with this stuff to try and fix the human’s mistakes. It wasn’t supposed to be liked this but—”
“The bombs were only supposed to lace the sky with a chemical compound made from sulfur dioxide and water that would block some of the sun’s UV rays, just enough to make it safe for us to go outside again. The aerosol would disperse high enough not to cause any acid rain or damage the environment, but it would make the planet safe for us since the humans had been depleting the ozone layer for decades,” Tobias said in a calm voice. He stood silently in the doorway, leaning against the jamb.
Paddy scrambled to his feet. “Uh. Hi Tobias. I was just trying to explain to Jakob about, um, I mean we were talking about ….”
“You were talking how my species plunged this world into an eternal winter through a terrible mix of science and magic that should never have been combined,” he said coolly.
The other man hung his head, staring at his shoes. “I was trying to explain how you were a good guy; not like those others.”
“While I appreciate your attempt to cast a more cordial impression of my nature for,” he glanced at me, “Jakob is it?” He didn’t wait for my acknowledgement. “I don’t believe that our new guest is willing to entertain the idea that everything in the world is not quite what he believed it to be.”
How could I believe vampires as good guys that didn’t rip out your throat but could apparently also be bad guys who just so happened to have essentially stopped human progress and set us back technologically nearly eighty years according to everything I heard. I narrowed my eyes at Tobias. I’d just been thinking that nothing was as I expected and the world seemed to have been turned on its head. I’d also been wondering just how much I could believe. Was that a lucky guess on his part? Or …
“Vampire magic; yes, that part of the legends you have heard are true. I bit you. You were dangerously hot and your body was already beginning to shut down. I have no idea how you managed to survive so long without a vampire helping you. So, yes, I can glimpse into your mind and sense your thoughts.”
That was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as my grandpa would have said. Oddly enough, that strange image from his little turn of phrase flashed in my mind right before everything went dark.
I rolled my head on a cloud. This was not my little pallet in my dark room.
“You know, I hope when we feed you up a bit you’ll stop passing out.”
I was back in the bed in the vampire’s room. I blinked and rubbed my eyes, trying to wake up. “I seem to recall you choked me out the first time.” I stared up at the ceiling, trying to keep my mind blank so he couldn’t read my thoughts. “Why are you here anyway? Resting after having another snack?”
He chuckled. “No. As hard as it is to resist, I would not do that again. You were dangerously hot; I felt I had no choice. I assure you I took no more than absolutely necessary to cool your system. If I had thought you would have been able to wait I would not have drank from you until you woke and could consent.”
“And you didn’t enjoy it at all, I’m sure.”
“Quite the opposite.” Tobias’ warm, rich voice deepened. I rolled over, unable to stop from looking at him. His eyes gleamed as he stared at me. “You tasted unlike anything I’ve ever had. Better than anything I’ve ever had.”
 A shudder went down my spine. I was unsure if it came from the creepy thought he’d taken my blood and wanted more of it, or if it was a reaction to his sensual tone, smoldering eyes and blatant posture. His pants were really tight and he had his legs splayed wide open.
He chuckled and the sound was like smooth velvet; my breath caught in my throat. I wouldn’t have been able to move if he’d come over to the bed; I would have let him do anything. My breath was heavy in the silence of the room when I tore my gaze from his.
“What was that?” My voice was harsh. I couldn’t be attracted to him. It wasn’t normal. It would be suicidal. He had to have done something to me.
“Vampire wiles? You wouldn’t believe anything else, would you?”
I frowned. “Stop reading my mind!”
He looked down at his clasped hands. “It’s not entirely deliberate, you understand. I apologize if it makes you uncomfortable; that is not my intention. This is a lot harder than I anticipated. I’ve never found one of you living among the humans. I don’t know how to interact with you without you feeling threatened but I will not hurt you.”
The mound of pillows made a good backrest when I sat up. My life had been a series of confusing events, starting with my birth. The people thought the soldiers of the Order were cleansing the Draugr from the cities because they were led to help their fellow man and protect them. I’d seen the truth of their methods, the way they fleeced each city for everything they could. Sometimes what a person expects to see is not what is actually there.
Besides, where would I go? My safe room was gone and I had no way to get back to the Order. I didn’t even know where Steven had been planning to move next. After all I’d been through
I smoothed the silky sheet over my thighs. “You say you want to help me. How?”
Tobias sighed and sat up in the chair. “The why in your mind is much louder, you know. First, you are safe here. The blue ones you call the Draugr will not come near my kind. They sense our cold nature, and our magic, and flee from us. We use that to herd them together, to make them easier to kill.”
“That’s why those ones were all together and attacked the apartments in a group like that.” It was their fault. As soon as the words passed my lips I knew it was unfair. They would have attacked someone for their warmth, no matter where they’d been.
He nodded. “That was very unfortunate. We did not know those humans were living there so far from the safety of the city.”
“Did you kill them? The Draugr?”
“My associates drove them to those men you call the Order. That is the second reason you are safer here than out there. I saw how those men treated you; I was inside the house when you arrived. I would wager those marks on your body are from the large man that yelled at you, are they not?”
I looked away, then glanced back at him, shrugging. “The world is not a safe place when you’re smaller than most men.”
His surged out of chair. “Abusing you because they are physically more powerful was shameful on their part. There is never an excuse to abuse someone; they should have never put their hands on you!”
He was beautiful in a wholly terrifying way as he raged. I sat frozen on the bed watching him, my heart thudding in my chest and my fingers gripping tight handfuls of the sheets and I struggled not to move and set him off again. I expected him to be breathing hard, his chest heaving, but it wasn’t moving. He’d stopped moving, perfectly still in a way a human never could be.
Did he mean what he said? Did he believe it? Was he truly offering his protection from the dangers of the world and what would it cost me to stay with him? Would I be his new bait to help him kill the Draugr? Would he demand my blood or my … body?
Tobias’ made a small sound in his throat, as if he were choking. He was suddenly well, alive again, was the best way to describe it. His eyes were nearly glowing as he stared at me. “Anything you give me, I wish for you to give freely. There is much we should still discuss, however, I thought you might like to dress. I can give you a tour of the house.”
“I don’t have to stay in this room?”
He frowned. “Of course not.”
One of the soldiers had taunted me for being agoraphobic when the Order had first claimed me as their bait. I’d been more afraid of leaving the small space of my room than anything else. Not even the Draugr had seemed as scary as the lack of walls around me and the wide open night sky above me. I overcame it pretty quickly and grew to enjoy my hours in the city, at least when I wasn’t being chased. It only took a few close calls for me to realize what I should be truly afraid of.
“You were kept a prisoner?” he asked, incredulous.
“It was for my protection. The Draugr could sense my heat through dirt, wood, concrete … I had to stay in a room lined with metal.”
Tobias snorted. “Well here you do not have to do that. You are quite safe. You are free to go anywhere in the house, except for the other’s rooms. This will be your new home; I will also endeavor to replace any belongings you might have left behind.”
I shook my head. “You don’t have to do that.” Telling him that he didn’t need to replace anything because I didn’t have anything probably wouldn’t go over well. He didn’t seem to take news of my treatment by the Order very well.
“I wish to,” he insisted. “At least your wardrobe.” He moved over to the wardrobe and then opened it. “I had your outfit laundered and put on a shelf here.  If these fit you, I can get you more to wear in the same sizes.”
He moved away from the armoire and I slid to the edge of the bed, making sure the robe was closed before I stood up. “They’re a bit small, actually.”
“I’ll let Sarea know. I shall return in a few minutes.” Tobias left and the room was strangely empty just from the lack of his presence. I got my clothes and then went into the bathroom, shutting and locking the door. He might not knock when he came back in.
I squeezed into my clothes, then looked at myself in the mirror.  I sighed as I wiggled my toes against the super soft mat on the floor; I couldn’t do anything about my lack of shoes but I could fix the wild tangle of my hair. I didn’t see a comb so I ran my fingers under the faucet and then through my fine blond strands. As presentable as I could be, I went out into the room. Tobias wasn’t back yet so I walked around trying to clean up. I pulled up the sheets on the bed and straightened the blankets at the foot. I got curious when I went to the armoire. I opened another drawer. There were other clothes in it, though the drawer that had held my clothes were empty. I opened the long cupboard side and there was a black jacket just like the one Tobias had been wearing.
Had he put me in his room?
The door opened. I glanced over my shoulder. “Did you put me in your room?” I asked Tobias. He paused in the door.
I closed the armoire doors quietly. “Why?”
He had lost his black jacket. His shirt underneath was the same emerald green as his eyes. The light caught on the fine weave of the cloth when he shrugged one shoulder. “My home is a large place and there are many vampires here. I wanted to keep an eye on you and ensure that you knew you were safe when you awoke.”
I looked down and picked at a loose thread at the hem of my shirt. “Am I … I mean, are we going to stay here … um, together?”
A cool hand on my chin made me jerk backward, flinching away as I brought up one hand to shield my face. “Don’t!”
Tobias’ stepped back deliberately, his lips tightly pressed together. When he spoke his voice was calm though. “I will not hurt you, Jakob.”
It took a minute for me to get my breathing back under control and relax my shoulders out of the hunched posture I’d fallen into instinctively. “Okay.”
He snorted. “Do not feel the need to placate me. I know you do not believe me, and that’s fine Jakob. You will learn to trust me in time. We will become friends and you will see.”
I studied his face. He really seemed to believe that.  It had been so long since I had been able to believe that someone cared enough about me to look out for me without expecting something in return. Not since my grandpa died. Was it any wonder I expecting nothing less from Tobias?
“You put me in your room. Why?” I mastered enough of my nervousness to speak firmly. If he wasn’t going to kill me, and it didn’t look like that was going to happen, I could figure out everything else. I just had to calm down and stop being such a weakling.
“I told you, to keep you safe. However, now that you’re awake and able to move about, you are welcome to your own room … if you wish. I would like for you to stay here in my suite, though.”
“This is a suite?”
Tobias nodded. “Yes. The other door is here, hidden by this hanging.” He walked behind a cloth picture hanging on the wall and opened a door. “No one has stayed in this bedroom in a while but it’s still clean, if a tad dusty.”
Blue. The room was done in all different shades of blue, my favorite color. I felt a smile creeping over my face. I trailed my fingers along the door and the small dresser beside it. A full bed lay under yet another window that looked outside. I sat on the bed. It was just as soft as his.
“I can stay here? I won’t be locked in?”
“Yes. I only locked my door earlier to keep you safe until you understood better.” Tobias shut the door and showed me the knob. “There’s even a lock on the door to my room on this side. Your bathroom is over here; I’ll have it stocked with the personal care items you might wish to have, and this door goes out to the hall. I’d like for this to remain locked, with both locks mind you, anytime you are in here alone.”
He must have seen the look on my face. “Just as a precaution, Jakob. I promised I would keep you safe; I don’t want someone else breaking that promise for me. You will keep the door locked?”
“Yes,” I said. We went out to the hall and I saw the door did not lock from the outside. That meant that I really had the control on coming and going. Just like Tobias had promised.
That morning was the first time I’d been able to move around freely. I wasn’t exactly comfortable, as most of the people Tobias introduced were clearly vampires who also, quite clearly, looked at me as more than just a guest. The hands they offered lingered, touching my skin. There were four men Tobias called his lieutenants; one of them, Mikkel, was holding hands with a human woman who smiled at me. I’d met Paddy, so the concept of a human letting a vampire feed off them willingly wasn’t a complete unknown but this was the first time I’d seen a so called pairing for myself. He wasn’t biting her, but I could see a livid red mark on her neck and his eyes were glittering while a faint flush warmed his pale face.
“Hello,” she said. “I’m Tiffany. I am so excited to meet you. Dear Tobias has been alone for so long, it was such a shock when he found another one of us.”
“Another one of … us?”
“Yeah, flashers.” Oh dear lords, I hoped she wasn’t about to flip up her shirt and expose herself to me. I’d heard of flashers running around nude in public before the cold hit and people could lose limbs by being outside exposed. Tobias choked next to me, then started coughing. He turned away from us. Tiffany continued, blithely unaware of my horrified thoughts. “You know, we were all born when the flash of light hit? So I call us flashers.”
“Oh.” Thank fucking gods. “Um, yes. I was born when the flash hit. Tobias didn’t really find me though.” It wasn’t like I was his or anything. I wasn’t some stray animal he found in an alley. “I had a job and everything. He encountered me on my last mission.”
“Whatever.” She flapped a hand to wave that away. “You’re here now. We’ll have to get to know each other. You know, in my life I’ve only met like twenty other flashers. We have to stick together and all that.” She smiled. “Right?”
“Well, you’re the second I’ve met. I didn’t know that other people like me existed before this morning. But sure, we can get to know each other. It seems I’ll be here for a while.”
She darted forward and gave me a hug. I stiffened in her arms but Tiffany was gone a second later, dragging Mikkel away and waving over her shoulder. “Okay, well, bye!”
I watched her with my head tilted sideways. I straightened up and shook my head a little. “She’s strange,” I muttered to Tobias.
“Yes.” He chuckled. “So, you’ve met some of my team and seen most of the house. Sarae is in the kitchen; she was planning on making soup and homemade bread for dinner for all of you.”
He said you, so … “Is Sarae a human?”
“Yes. She’s not a flasher, as Tiffany would say, though. She’s a regular human. Her family members have worked for me for a long while. I’ve known her since she was a young girl.”
We continued down the wide hallway, past a living room dominated by a large TV. I could see a few people in there I hadn’t met. “You don’t need to be introduced to everyone today,” Tobias said when I asked. “It was important my lieutenants knew you on sight, but the rest will become known to you in time.”
I shrugged one shoulder. “Okay.” We went through a double doorway with partially open doors that slid into the wall into a bright room. I’d never seen anything so gleaming clean and fresh. Metal appliances shined in the sun from large windows. The wood shone a rich cherry and the counters were black. A woman in a bright red skirt stood with her back to us in front of two ovens that looked stacked on top of each other. She pulled out a loaf of bread with a golden crust puffed high above the pan.
My mouth watered at the rich yeasty smell.
She turned and put the bread down and caught sight of us, yelping. She put her hand on her chest and leaned her hip against the counter. “Don’t do that to me!” she snapped. “Make some noise when you move, damn it, Tobias. I don’t know how many times I’ve told you that.”
I’d thought her hair was so pale blond that it looked white, but it was actually white. Her pale face was lined with wrinkles at her eyes that crinkled up when she smiled at me but she still had smooth pink cheeks that looked super soft. She had a cream sweater with an apron on top.
She looked just like a grandmother should. It made me miss my grandpa.
“You must be Jakob. Did you enjoy your breakfast?” she asked.
“Yes, ma’am, I did,” I said politely. “Thank you for making me eggs and giving me milk. I haven’t tasted either in years. It was wonderful, better than I remembered.”
She waved a hand. “Hunger always makes food taste better. You look like you could use feeding up anyway.” She reached up and patted my cheek. “Well, turn around and let me look at you. I need to get you some clothes it seems, and obviously those are too small so we’ll need new sizes.”
I flushed a little in embarrassment but she was too sweet to be afraid of. Besides, she was even smaller than me. I did as she asked, then leaned down and gave her the hug she wanted before we left the kitchen. She’d made me take an apple before I left since I’d slept through the midday meal.
They had apples! “How did you get these?”
Tobias said, “We have a conservatory greenhouse which has simulated sunlight. Much of the produce you eat will come from that. I’ll show you sometime, if you like. We put in paths and benches and a few herb flower gardens that are nice. Right now, I thought you’d like to see something else.”
I bit into the crispy apple, the sweet juice filling my mouth. I moaned, closing my eyes and coming to a standstill. “Oh, so good.” I chewed and took another big bite, torn between eating it as fast as I could and savoring the bite.
“Jakob.” The strained quality of Tobias’ voice made me open my eyes.
“Yes?” I said through a mouthful.
He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I was going to show you something.”
And I’d stopped walking. “Oh. Sorry.”
Eggs, milk, and apple … and a library filled with so many books I wouldn’t run out of reading material in my lifetime. Even more amazing, Tobias said I could read anything in the room, anytime I wanted. I could even take books back to my room, as long as I put them back in the right places when I was done.
I spent the next few weeks exploring and meeting everyone. I was shocked how many vampires came and went, almost all of them to meet Tobias.
Gradually my temperature began to rise again. I went to the conservatory a few times just to look at all the plants but it soon grew too warm in there for me. I took to sleeping with my window open at night and wandering around in shorts and a t-shirt during the day. Staying in my room was a habit that was hard to break but Sarae insisted I join the rest of the human guests during meal times. I tried to hide how uncomfortably warm it was making me.
Often the vampires were there too, including one that was a little too persistent in trying to become my friend for my comfort. Mary seemed nice … at first. Then she started invading my personal space and trying to touch me. She’d even come to my room and tried to get in when I told her that I didn’t want to go for a walk with her. I was glad Tobias had insisted on the locks. It got worse the warmer I got until I was too nervous to leave my room by myself. I didn’t tell Tobias; what would I say? I couldn’t hold my own against one little vampire?
My pride kept me from saying something. They never did anything, but I could see their craving in the way their shining eyes followed me.         
They were no different than the Draugr in that respect. They still craved the heat of my blood. They had more restraint but I knew without Tobias’ influence I would not have been as safe.
I no longer feared the handsome man. Vampire. Whatever I called him, he’d become simply Tobias to me. He brought me small things from time to time from the outside world and sat and discussed what I was reading. I’d yet to find a book he hadn’t read in the library. He made no move I wasn’t comfortable with though. We became friends. When he wasn’t around I was often with Paddy or Tiffany. She was still just as weird but it grew on me.
Paddy was the best friend my own age I’d never had. He was always asking me what it was like to live away from the vampire’s protection. He seemed appalled by my stories of the Order but he also thought I was really brave to draw out the Draugr for them to kill. He didn’t quite the necessity of it, instead focusing on what how scared he would be if he was in that position.
Telling him being too afraid to go out meant I got a beating, my already meager meals taken away, and then forced to do it anyway wouldn’t serve anything so I kept my mouth shut. A few of the other flashers, like Tiffany, had been with the vampires since they were little. They were very sheltered. Most of the ones I met were more Paddy. Their stories were varied but they had all experienced some of the horror of the new world we’d been born into too.
Every single flasher was claimed by a vampire that they fed. They all seemed to enjoy it and insisted without it they quickly got sick from overheating. Some acted like a couple, like Tiffany and Mikkel, but others were more like friends like Cass and Paddy. I worried for a while that meant Tobias and I were already paired together.
Paddy told me, in a hushed conversation in my room, that it would take another feeding to bond Tobias and me together. Twice, and that would be it for him, he would crave my blood only. The bond seemed to be pretty much one-sided though, and dangerous for them to boot. The vampire was virtually addicted to the blood of their flasher. It made me wonder what kind of bond Tobias and I would have, if he fed from me. Why would he even want it though, obviously he’d been feeding his whole life before he met me.
“It’s just us,” he confided. “They can feed from any human any number of times and be fine. But our blood is special.”
“They have an ancient magic. It’s part of them. Somehow the vampires that set the bombs off before they were supposed to explode included a wave of their personal power. That’s what hit us, and what makes our blood so hot and taste so good. They were trying to change the humans to make our blood more effective to feed them. I heard they planned to take a group of humans for each vampire and use them for feeding stock and then get rid of the rest of humanity so they’d no longer have to hide. The only humans left alive would be enslaved to them.”
I shuddered at the thought of being kept like a cow or pig in a pen for vampires to drain whenever they felt like it.
“They got it wrong though, and the explosion changed some of us, but not that many. Instead, the chemicals in the bombs and the sulfur stuff inside mixed with the magic in unexpected ways. The magic changed us humans to create flashers and the blue guys, plus created the weather changes. The magic turned the world into a damn deep freeze instantly as it blocked out the sun. Then the blue guys appeared. Cass said it took them years to find the first of us so they didn’t even know that part had worked. Ever since them the vampires have been trying to fix their mistakes and help the human. At least the good ones.”
Sitting next to the open window in my room, I closed my eyes as a cold breeze swept over my cheeks. “That’s messed up,” I finally said. It was hard to understand why people would act that way, even vampires. Why did some people need power over others?
“Tobias isn’t like the bad vampires though.” I was sure of that much. He rarely told anyone what they had to do. I’d seen him discuss new areas to search for Draugr, or plans of attack once they found them with his lieutenants. It was always a joint decision. They’d even asked for my input since I got there, since I’d witnessed so many attacks and knew the Draugr’s habits around humans.
That made me feel like I was contributing something, like he considered me more than some brainless weakling he had to protect. I didn’t do much on a day to day basis. Reading, helping Sarae when she’d let me, talking with the other flashers made up most of my day. Tobias said that was all he expected from me, at least until they could cleanse the Draugr from the Earth and take care of the rival faction. After I told him my story of being taken in by the Order, the vampires were searching their ranks for more flashers too.
“Do you think that the other vampires know we’re here?” I asked Paddy.
“The ones that wanted to make humans into livestock?” He shuddered. “I hope not.”
Tobias and the others didn’t seem to know where they were hiding, though they were trying to find them too. Hopefully that meant the other vampires had no idea where we were either. “What if they found their own flashers?”
Paddy curled up in the chair, resting his chin on his knees. He looked sad. “They probably have. I’ve thought about it before. They probably live horrible lives, but at least they’re alive you know? A lot of us probably get eaten by Draugr too.”
We sat in silence for a while before it was time for dinner. I wasn’t feeling very hungry but Sarae would kill me if I didn’t eat. I was reluctant to go to the dining room but I steeled myself for the reaction of the vampires. Tobias had been gone for a few days but when I entered the dining room he was standing by the table.
He was dressed in black slacks and a scarlet shirt that hugged his body. His hair was pulled back from his face. His body was all hard muscles and sharp angles. My mouth went dry when he straightened, turned, and focused on me.
A drop of sweat slid down my temple.
Tobias stalked over to me, only stopping when a scant inch separated us. He was taking deep breaths in and his hands were clenched at his sides. “Jakob.”
I shivered at the growl in his voice. I’d felt attracted to Tobias from the first time we met face to face in his room. If some of the other flashers weren’t so clearly not in love with their vampires, I might fear some magic on his part making me feel that way. But it wasn’t. It was all me.
I wanted him.
It was against society dictates; humans were once again focused on procreation. But my grandpa had told me to accept people for who they are. As I got older and realized I was attracted to the bodies of the men of the Order, if not their personalities, I struggled with that forbidden desire. I gradually came to the decision that nothing I felt was wrong. Seeing a few couples living here that were same gender made sense. It wasn’t like vampires had to worry about procreating.
So when Tobias stroked a hand down my face, following the path of that bead of sweat, I pressed into the cool feel of his hand. A vampire started into the room and passed a little too close to me, running a hand over my lower back. Tobias’ eyes began to shine and he lifted his lip, snarling and flashing his fangs at them.
Mary scuttled around us in a wide circle.
“Are you hungry?” Tobias asked me. I shook my head silently. “Come with me.”
We went upstairs and straight to his bedroom. I hadn’t been in there since the first day I had come to live there. Tobias turned when I shut the door and then froze. He was carefully not touching me but his eyes were staring deep into mine.
“You are hot again. You need to be cooled down.”
I tried to speak but couldn’t. I’d seen how this worked with the others and understood now. I nodded.
“You do not wish to allow one of the others to help you?” His mouth was slightly parted, the tips of his fangs glistening.
“No,” I whispered. I tried to clear my throat but my voice stayed hoarse. “I don’t want them.” Was I really going to do this?
“Do you know what will happen if I feed from you again?”
I nodded.
Tobias hadn’t looked away from my eyes yet. He stared at me, as if he could see inside my soul. “You’re sure? Because there is no changing your mind or going back from this. I will need to feed from you, just you, after this. My life will depend on it.”
“I know.” A sudden thought shook me out of the aroused fog. It took some of the tension out of me and I slumped against the door. “Unless you don’t want to. I, um, I could find someone else.”
“No!” He crowded forward, both hands beside my head on the door, our bodies finally touching as our chest pressed together. “I want no other to taste your sweet blood.”
I shivered and he slid one of his hands down to just above my shoulder. His thumb began caressing my neck. “If we do this, I want everything. Not just your blood and your body. I have held in such desire for you during our talks as you showed me more of yourself. My need is so strong that I was forced to leave as you began to warm again. I didn’t know if you would allow me the pleasure of your trust.”
I struggled to speak after he said that. “No one has ever wanted me for more than what I could do for them. I know you would still a friend to me if I said no.” I stopped and stared up at Tobias’ face. I slid my thumb over his soft lips, feeling the bumps of his fangs. “But I don’t want to. I want to talk books with you, and help you find more flashers, but I also want this. I want to share my blood and my body with no one else. I want to experience it all with you.”
Tobias began to bend down and my hand curled around his neck. I pulled him the last inches until our mouth connected. I pressed hungrily to him, opening my mouth. His tongue slid between my lips to dip inside my mouth. I tried to caress it back with my tongue and lips. He made a sound in his throat and I would have smiled if I could. Following his tongue as it retreated, I tried to mimic his slow rolling dip. The edge of my tongue scraped one fang and I could taste the iron tang of my blood.
With a moan, Tobias’ hands held me still when I would have retreated to apologize. He began sucking on my tongue in rhythmic pulls. I shuddered and would have fallen but his hand on my back pinned me to his body. My cock was rock hard in my thin shorts and I could feel his bulge against my stomach.
“Bed,” he whispered when he released my tongue.
No words were spoken as we stripped each other. My hands shook and I couldn’t get Tobias’ belt open. He gently brushed my hands aside and did it for me, opening his slacks and pushing them, and his underwear, down in one motion. It was much easier for him to push my shorts down and yank my t-shirt over my head. My heart was racing. I was alone, with an aroused man who also happened to be a vampire.
He was going to bite me and take my blood.  I knew that, but I didn’t know what else he would do. I began to get more nervous as his eyes devoured me.
Tobias caressed the pulse at my neck. “Relax Jakob. We won’t go all the way today. I want to save that for a time when I will not be intoxicated on your blood and you will not be lost in the pleasure of my bite.”
“Okay.” I was unsure of what to do still, but a lot of the pressure was gone. This was the first time I would be feeding a vampire, while I was aware at least. I was nervous and my hands were shaking as they hung at my sides.
“Lay down.” Sitting down on the edge of his big bed, I slid backward and then lowered my head to rest against the pillows. Tobias followed me. He lay down facing me, leaning down to kiss me again. One hand slid over my chest, touching and tickling. A soft plucking at my nipples made me gasp and arch into the touches.
“Please Tobias,” I whispered against his lips.
I was going to lose it before we did anything. A soft chuckle against my throat where he was nuzzling me made me shiver. “I forget what it is like to be so young. You are so sleek, so smooth. I want to lick every inch of you.”
The thought of his tongue stroking my skin almost made me come. “I’m gonna …” I gasped.
“Not yet.” His cool hand circled the base of my cock and squeezed. I writhed under him but the beginnings of my climax began to fade as I gained control.
“Okay,” I said. Tobias let go with a teasing stroke toward the head. He rolled on top of me, holding himself up to hover over me, and I spread my legs wider so I could wrap them around his hips.
His cock was rubbing against mine as his hips rolled. I grabbed his wide shoulders and stared up at him, trying to find rhythm to match. It was awkward for a moment and then we synced. “Gods!” Fluids dripped between us and smoothed the rubbing into a slick glide. Pleasure blinded me until all I could see were his brilliant green eyes shining down at me.
“So good.” I squeezed his shoulders and then closed my eyes. Tilting my head back, I bared my throat. He growled above me.
He lowered more of his body on top of me. Small biting kisses started at my ear as he worked his way down. I flexed my hips and my legs, thrusting against him. Tobias paused and I whimpered as the moment stretched out.
The strike was so fast I barely felt a sting as his fangs sank into my neck. I cried out and my back arched when he began sucking. The hard, drawing pulls at my vein sent an ache from my neck straight to my balls. They drew up and the most intense orgasm of my life rolled over me.
“Tobias!” It went on and on, each surge timed to my vampire’s pull on my vein. The heat began to fade as he drank my overheated blood down. He pulled away with a harsh growl. He rutted hard against me, once, twice more and then stiffened.
“Jakob!” He shuddered over me and then went limp.
Tobias rolled to one side, pulling me with him. We curled together until our breathing calmed. I could feel the drying mess on my stomach but didn’t feel like getting up to shower. I never wanted this moment to end. It had been too good and I wanted to hold onto the high I was feeling for as long as I could, wishing it could never end.
“This isn’t the end of something wonderful,” Tobias said. “It’s a start.”
“I know.” I stroked the skin of his chest, enjoying the way our temperatures were more similar now. It really felt good compared to how hot and miserable I’d felt before dinner. Thinking of dinner made me think of food and my appetite was apparently back too. My stomach rumbled.
Tobias laughed. “I guess that means you’re ready to get up?” I flicked his nipple. “Hey!”
He reached for me but I rolled to my side of the bed and slipped off. I laughed at his affronted expression as he rubbed his chest. “Shower, then food.”
“Maybe I’ll just stay here. I’m feeling pretty good and I’m not hungry at all.”
I felt a little disappointed but hid it pretty well, I thought. “Suit yourself.” I started toward his big shower. I was bending over to turn on the water when he grabbed me from behind and the temperature slid to freezing cold as the water rained down on us. He yelped and I burst out laughing. He let me go and I turned it back to warm.
“Hmm, that’s a good sound,” Tobias said. “You sound happy.”
I’d never been really happy before. The fear had always been too strong. But I wasn’t afraid anymore. I had a chance at a new life where I could be relatively normal. I had friends and now a lover. Two months before I would never have dreamed of where we’d end up when I woke up in Tobias’ bed. My life was completely different. I knew so much more of the world and things were very different from what I’d thought I knew.
As my vampire held me from behind and kissed my neck I came to the decision that was a very good thing.

The End
I hope you enjoyed my story! For my fans who read this, a little aside. I'd love to eBook this for everyone (for free) but it needs editing help! My betas are pretty busy right now so I wrote this one alone. If you see any mistakes, errors, or have thoughts on how to improve the story please feel free to let me know!
Now, on to more of the blog hop! Check out the links below for other great posts, stories, articles and more about vampires!