Monday, December 25, 2017

HIDDEN GIVER



ONE

“Three hundred cycles ago, when humans had their first contact with extraterrestrials, there were riots and mass suicides, unfathomable chaos because it was very hard for them to digest, not only that they weren’t alone, but that there was nothing special about humans in the grand scheme of the Universe,” Nir dictated to his scribe.

The canine looked at Nir as if it wondered where he was going with that information.

“Turmoil, Moire,” Nir said. “The turmoil that the unknown brings to your existence.”

The canine nodded and typed, adding the words to Nir’s log entry.

There were times when Nir would have been fine if the canines of Thereon were more like those of Terra. Sure those pets weren’t as smart or capable of all the things theirs easily achieved, but the cuddly factor was important sometimes. Thereon’s canines could not function as pets; they were too aloof, too smart, too impersonal (just like the actual people of Thereon) to provide any warmth or emotional support. They weren’t even cute, according to the human crew of the Qizil Tacir. It had been mentioned that Moire looked like the ugliest mutt one could imagine or have a nightmare about.
Nevertheless, Moire was something from his planet. Nir looked around his cabin. The purple flowers which grew freely in Thereon's valleys hanged from vines covering the walls, and yet Nir still missed something he couldn’t quite name.

Moire stared at Nir expectantly.

Before Nir could open his mouth to continue with his log, the cabin door chimed and the computer blurted, “It’s Captain Wang!”

“Grant access,” Nir sighed. He moved to his feet to receive his boss as the door whooshed open.

“Chief Kah,” the massive captain entered the cabin, “I have your options for Hidden Giver here.” He pushed a compad into Nir’s face, and with a click, a multicolored hologram wheel floated over it. “If you were so kind as to spin that to find out your receiver.”

Nir took a step back, so he didn’t have the edge of the device on his nose and spun the floating wheel with his index finger. The seconds it took to stop seemed interminable. It stopped in a blue section, and the color dissolved, allowing a name to surface.

“That should prove interesting,” commented Captain Wang after turning the hologram wheel to himself and reading the name. He punched a key and the hologram dissolved.

“Whatever do you mean, captain?” Nir swallowed hard.

“Well,” the captain eyed Nir, “you made a funny face when you saw the name. I think you were expecting to get one of your fellow Thereons as receiver.”

“What would be the fun in that, captain?”

“That’s the spirit!” Captain Wang smacked Nir on the shoulder and about-faced. “Alright, I’ll leave you to your logging and please keep your scribe in your quarters. I’m not going to name names but some people have been like ‘aww captain that thing is scary,’” the captain affected a whiny voice, “and that, dear chief, gets on my nerves.” He looked over his shoulder. “One would think after all the standard months you have been on this ship, those...” he cleared his throat, “people would have gotten used to your assistant aboard.”

“I’ll keep an eye on that situation, captain,” Nir promised before the captain stepped out and the cabin door closed behind him with a definite whoosh.

If canines were able to roll their eyes, Nir was sure Moire should be doing as much when he turned to sit facing his scribe again. Nevertheless, his scribe seemed oblivious to the reaction its appearance caused in some crew members. Canines didn’t care what they looked like, just how efficient they were.

Moot point.

“Yes, turmoil...” Nir returned to his dictation. “Once the majority of humanity assimilated the knowledge of a wide and multi-populated Universe, they let go of many notions regarding the existence of deities and their role in their lives. Nonetheless, as creatures of habit, many traditions subsisted losing their esoteric origins but remaining widely popular around the planet. That’s how I ended up participating in an end-of-the-cycle tradition called Hidden Giver.

“Humans traditionally exchanged gifts with relatives and friends, but if the exchange was in a working environment, for some unfathomable reason, it seemed more exciting if the person you were to gift didn’t know who you were until the end-of-the-cycle company party.” Nir shook his head. “In some places, like the captain wants us here on the Qizil Tacir, you were supposed to also give several small, simple gifts before the actual event.”

Moire finished typing, but Nir didn’t say another word as his eyes watched his fingers trailing the dark material of his chair.

The Qizil Tacir had two hundred crew members, unevenly divided among six species. Since it was a Terran merchant ship, almost sixty percent of the crew was human. Nir’s department controlled the ship’s computers; therefore, he interacted with everyone. Even if the people of Thereon were distant by nature, he felt he had a fairly decent grasp of normal interpersonal interaction, and his last review proved it with a ninety-three percent score on the subject.

Still, this Hidden Giver game (or tradition) would make him dive into something he wasn’t sure how to approach. Yes, there was gift-exchange in Thereon, but their gifts were practical things. With humans, gifts were often impractical trinkets more related to sentiment than to actual usefulness.
Nevertheless, his challenge wasn’t that; several of his subordinates were human, and he could easily ask for their advice. No. His challenge was the man the Universe had decided to put in his path for this “assignment.” Sure, Nir was obviously the receiver of some other crew member, but Nir’s man...

That thought made Nir shudder.

The human had caught Nir’s eye since the first time they crossed each other in the mess hall. He couldn’t say if it had been the spring in the man’s step— some kind of unmitigated cheerfulness paired with an imposing figure. Perhaps it had been the light blue chunks of hair over the man’s forehead after escaping the rest of his black hair, neatly fastened into a ponytail.

A pale shade of blue uncannily similar to Nir’s own eye color.

Nir could not declare the reason this human stirred things inside him. The man just did, and Nir had never forced an encounter or a word. Everything between them had been work-related and casual, but even the man’s voice disrupted Nir’s essence to the point where Nir had to actively avoid any interaction— a not so easy feat since the man headed the Distribution Department, and there was always something wrong with their computers.

Now, Nir had to give his...

(What was the word he’d heard the girls use?)

Yes, his crush. Nir had to give his crush gifts.

Several silly things and a really nice one, but none the thing Nir would truly like to share with Bebu Neda. 

***

TWO

“Oops!” The Orelian girl giggled. “You weren’t supposed to see me leaving this!” Her cheeks turned purple and her antennae waved anxiously.

Bebu smirked. “Are you my Hidden Giver?” He put a hand on his chest. “I promise I’ll act surprised during the end-of-the-cycle party.”

“Oh, no, Chief Neda! I am not!” She smiled shyly and even her serrated teeth looked cute.

Bebu narrowed his eyes. Since his eyes were slanted by nature, people usually said he was downright frightening when he did that. He cocked his head. “You are not lying to an officer, right?”

“No, sir. I wouldn’t dare!”

“Very well, you might go now.” Bebu made a move along gesture with his left hand, and she scurried away. He noticed the lack of noise around him. He circled around, finding all the men staring at him. “What?” he asked to no one in particular.

Everyone sprang back to work.

Shaking his head, Bebu sat and pushed closer to the console where the girl had left a small whimsically wrapped bundle.

Tito’s bulk threw a shadow over Bebu and a heavy hand landed on his shoulder. “Hidden Giver?”

“Apparently,” Bebu looked up toward his burly assistant. “Are you my Hidden Giver?”

Tito snorted, squeezing Bebu’s shoulder with more force than needed. “Seriously? Do you see me giving you such a cutesy whatever that is?”

“It might be a ploy to throw me off the scent?”

Unceremoniously, Tito picked up the bundle and opened it. “Nah, not my style.”

Since Bebu was seated and Tito was an eight-foot-tall beast, he couldn’t see what was in the assistant’s giant paw. “Hey! Give me that!”

“Do you honestly think I would get you candy?” Tito had a small pale blue ball between his ridiculously big forefinger and thumb. He sighed. “How long have we worked together?”

“Oh, shut up!” Bebu moved to his feet and snatched his gift. “I swear to ‘Verse if you are my Hidden Given I will punch you in the face in front of everybody.”

Tito rolled one of his three eyes. “You just want to get me all hot and bothered. Not fair.”

“Go do some stevedoring,” Bebu growled. “Shoo!” he added, plopping back into his chair.

The snort-snarl Tito released as he departed was a clear signal of his annoying amusement. He “playfully” punched another Gorgon on the shoulder to move him out of the way, and the other big guy went crashing straight into a crate; the contents spilled in a mess that would set the workers back for at least an hour.

“Not setting an example there!” Bebu didn’t know why he wasted his time shouting at Tito. Warehousemen were a rowdy bunch, and Tito’s amicably brutish demeanor was a great tool.

Swiveling to face his console, Bebu took one of the powder blue candy balls and popped it into his mouth. He liked this kind of hard candy. Whoever his giver was— knew him or had taken the time to investigate. The latter option really intrigued him.

Chief Kah, Bebu’s receiver, was also an intriguing option. Clearly the odds of the Thereon being Bebu’s giver were so slim he wasn’t even logically considering them; nevertheless, some childlike hope still lurked. No. That minuscule hope wasn’t lurking; it was more like waiting in shy expectation, almost holding its breath a little.

The candy ball rolled in Bebu’s tongue, slowly releasing its sugary goodness. He counted how many were left. Eleven. He caressed the hard balls with his forefinger, moving them around in random patterns. Their color was very close to the blue in his own hair.

It was also very similar to Chief Kah’s eyes.

But Bebu wasn’t exactly thinking of the Thereon’s eyes.

As one ball rolled in his mouth and the others around his finger, Bebu’s mind was slowly drifting to another, darker shade of blue— that of Chief Nir Kah’s lips.

***

THREE

Exuberant and eclectic Zimski Station was bound to have the perfect gift for Chief Neda. The Qizil Tacir had docked there the previous standard day, and, after all the legalities had been concluded, the crew was free to roam it until their departure.

Nir had several ideas to work with thanks to the large and inconspicuous mechanism he had unleashed to learn things about the Distribution Chief. It wasn’t hard to admit a certain amount of excitement tinging the covert maneuvers he had designed to keep the man from learning his intention.

According to general gossip, with less than ten standard days left before the end-of-the-year party, almost everybody already knew the identity of their giver. Still, Nir had been so focused on keeping such a low profile to avoid any leaks, he had not even thought about finding out his. The only important thing was to truly surprise his receiver.

Out on the big promenade of the space station’s Shopping Quarter, people from merchant, pleasure, and military starships moved in a cacophony of languages and grunts meant to be overwhelming for some and fascinating for others while competing with the mostly cheerful vocal-less music emanating from the area’s sound system. End-of-the-cycle traditions from around the galaxy mingled easily in store windows and flashy holograms: Terran snowflakes, Centaurian spears, Ophiuchian bubbles.  

The colors of outfits and headdresses, the not-always-enticing smells of the multiple restaurants and street vendors were nothing for Nir; he only had one mission, and all his concentration was aimed at that purpose. Chief Bebu Neda was big on two things: sugar and leather. Nir had utterly eaten the sugar road; thus, the perfect gift would be the man’s other passion.

As if conjured by the brazen witches of Veran, the perfect store to find the right present appeared magically in front of him. From the smallest accessory (strips of leather braided to form a bracelet) to full skirt dresses and muscle-hugging bodysuits, every imaginable thing was on display. Color didn’t seem a complication either: bright, pastel, muted, rich or subtle— all were there too. The store was packed. He straightened his shoulders and prepared himself to push, elbow, and threaten if anyone was already pawing Chief Neda’s perfect gift.

A while later, Nir was tracing his index finger over the shoulder of a knee-length, dark green overcoat when the voice that thundered in the restless moments of his nights spoke in his ear. “That is not your color.” He didn’t jump because Thereons weren’t easily startled but something inside him did somersault. He turned around and found Chief Neda grinning at him.

His brown leather jacket made his shoulders look wider than usual, and the artificial light of the store reflecting on it gave his face a sun-kissed glow. “I feel like I should apologize for whispering in your ear like that.” Chief Neda stroked his chin with a hand as if considering it.

It had been rather intimate.

Chief Neda’s eyes sparkled. Nir tilted his head and, perhaps encouraged by the glinting mischief in the silver eyes or the extremely informal introduction to their encounter, spoke, “Never mind an apology. I’m more interested in knowing ‘my color.’”

The grin returned wider. “I rather show than tell.” His voice had come out low. One could say “husky,” as if he was still whispering in Nir’s ear and not speaking face-to-face.

Nir nodded wordlessly. One part of him wanted to flee before he did something stupid; the other wanted to stay close and take advantage of the moment. Too many expectations had been centered on the end-of-the-year party, leaving him certainly ill-fitted for this random occurrence.

“Although, I need a promise from you first,” Chief Neda added.

“Let’s see if I can handle it.”

“Promise you’re not going to find a way to simply vanish.” Chief Neda smiled, but his words had a hint of defeat in them.

“I don’t understand what you’re implying.” Nir shook his head. “What do you mean with ‘vanish’?”

Chief Neda chucked ruefully. “Sometimes I think you dislike me. I know you don’t have to like someone to be able to work with them, but I feel like you avoid me,” he looked at the store floor for a heartbeat, “as if my presence is a nuisance to you.”

“I assure you that is not the case,” Nir said firmly.

“And yet you’re giving me a non-answer.”

Defeat hadn’t been an undercurrent this time; it stung Nir.

Fortune favors the bold.

The old Terran proverb came to Nir’s mind, and resolution seized him. “I want you to walk out the store, find a place where we can have lunch, and call me.” He tapped on his earpiece. “Three seven four six is my direct line.”

“You’re not gonna vanish?”

“I promise I will come to you.”

“Why can’t you come with me now?”

Yes, why not?

It was all too sudden. Nir was not going to run, but he needed a few moments alone to put the mental giggles and the goosebumps and the trembling under control to be around Chief Neda without being a complete wreck. He found a decent justification. “I wanted to buy something for myself here and since I will probably spend the rest of the day with you, I rather do it first.”

Chief Neda narrowed his eyes, which made him look not only skeptical but menacing. He took a deep breath, and those mysterious eyes widen slightly. “I should be more respectful. After all, you just made a promise, and that ought to be enough to settle my nerves.” He seemed startled for a heartbeat as if the last part had come out aloud without his permission.

Knowing now that he also did something to Chief Neda’s composure, Nir said softly, “You’re right, and you can take a Thereon promise to the bank.” Amid his own nerves, he found a little smile and offered it to the human.

“Someone’s been reading old Terran books.” The Distribution Chief smiled back. He put his hand on Nir’s arm and gave it a tentative squeeze. “I’m going to find the best place for us.” He nodded and turned to zigzag between the customers in the crowded store.

Nir followed the chief’s bobbing ponytail until it was out of sight, mentally open-mouthed and with his heart beating faster than the Drums of Delia. He shook himself out of his stupor. Gift hunting had become a time-constricted mission.

****

FOUR

“I admire you, Chief Kah,” Bebu said, staring at the Thereon’s mesmerizing eyes.

Chief Kah tilted his head a little, a half smile enhancing his square features. “And why is that?”

They had spoken of neutral themes while eating. Now dessert had come; maybe it was the sugar already taking control, but Bebu felt ready to get more personal with this man, who intrigued him so much. “You chose to embark on a Terran merchant ship, with only a handful of other Thereons on board. That’s kind of unusual.”

The Well-Well restaurant had a quiet atmosphere, and they sat beside a manicured garden. With its regal decoration, the rich fabrics and ornaments of the place seemed to complement Nir Kah’s otherworldly allure. He nodded. “True. Thereons rarely embark with other species, but I wanted to challenge myself. The Universe is too big to be stuck in only one place.”

“And nothing like a merchant vessel to move about the stars,” Bebu agreed wholeheartedly, keeping his eyes on the Thereon’s face. It had been seriously hard to concentrate on a decent conversation after feeling the strong muscles under the caramel-colored, long-sleeved top.

“Exactly.” Chief Kah stared a Bebu for a couple of beats. “I bet you wanted to be a pirate when you were a kid,” he declared with a wink.

The comment (plus the wink) surprised Bebu, not just because it was uncannily accurate but because it was extremely out of character for Thereons in general and for unpretentious Chief Kah in particular. He snicker-snorted loudly. “I didn’t know your species were mind-readers!”

“We are not,” Chief Kah said softly. “You have a very swashbuckling swagger about yourself, and it’s really not that hard to reach such a conclusion.”

Bebu cackled this time, making some of the other tables hush them. “You’re talking about ancient Terran pirates, Chief Kah. There’s nothing swashbuckler-ish about space pirates.” It was Bebu’s turn to wink. “Perhaps the freedom and sense of adventure.” He noticed a flash of darkening on the Thereon’s cheeks. It had been so quick; he wouldn’t have seen it if he hadn’t been so invested in learning and memorizing each detail of the other’s face. He covered one bluish hand with his. “Tell me what you wanted to be when you grew up.”

Chief Kah looked at Bebu’s hand. Bebu feared he had crossed a line this time by touching him in such a familiar way without consent, but the Thereon didn’t yank or remove his hand. Glowing eyes moved slowly toward Bebu’s face. They gazed at each other, locked in a deeply consequential moment.

“Can I offer you more wine?”

Wrenched from that beautifully sacred place they had created in an instant, both turned toward the waiter, then in slow-motion toward the empty glasses.

“Yes,” Chief Kah reacted first, “we need more wine.” He quietly removed his hand from under Bebu’s as the waiter turned about in search of more spirits.

“I shouldn’t have,” Bebu offered hesitantly.

Chief Kah shook his head. “I’ll tell you someday, not today.” He sighed.

“Am I pushing you?” Bebu had been sure his gamble would pay off. Now he was afraid he had fucked it up.

“I don’t think it’s pushing if I am welcoming it.” There was that flash of darkness on his cheeks again.

“Tell me what to do. I want to know you. Share things with you.” Very few times in his life Bebu had been so enraptured by another, especially by someone who seemed (until today) unable to give him the time of day.

“I want the same.” The four words had surged in a mere whisper. Chief Kah wasn’t looking at Bebu but at the empty plate of Tura Mousse. After a moment, his eyes sought Bebu’s. “Have you ever been so zeroed in on doing something at a very specific moment that if the opportunity comes early you are out of sorts?”

Bebu considered the question, trying to not be distracted by Chief Kah’s trembling lips. No. He wasn’t reckless, but it wasn’t in his nature to plan things in a restrictive way. A negative response would probably show an inability to empathize since he hadn’t experienced the same. He answered with noncommittal honesty. “I have been unprepared.”

This seemed enough for Chief Kah to continue, “I had my heart set on approaching you during the end-of-the-cycle party.” He twisted his mouth. “All the scenarios I ran in my head were within that schema. You finding me at the leather store and so casually engaging caught me off guard.”

“You seemed normal to me,” Bebu blurted before he could censor his wayward mouth.

Chief Kah chuckled a bit dejectedly. “Thereons’ inherently cold demeanor may easily conceal internal turmoil.”

“I never meant to upset you.”

“You didn’t. It’s all in my head. I just need a little bit of time to process you are not indifferent to me.”

Bebu always thought it was the other way around, but he didn’t say it. It was time to simply assimilate the revelations. He smiled. “Let’s do something. We’ll meet again at the end-of-the-cycle get-together. Just know that I’m interested— very interested in you.” He moved to his feet and took the Thereon’s hand. “I’ll pay the check on my way out, Chief Kah.”

Before Bebu could turn to leave, Chief Kah said, “Please call me Nir, Chief Neda.”

“Then you should call me Bebu,” he proposed.

“Goodbye, Bebu,” Chief Kah said with a curt nod. A small grin surfaced briefly.

“It was a pleasure, Nir.”

Bebu left the restaurant, rolling Nir’s name on his tongue and in his mind.

Nothing had ever tasted sweeter.

***

FIVE

“Thank you so much for helping me with this, Chief Kah!” Commander Sera sounded excited. The young Futhark hadn’t been in that position for long, and Captain Wang had probably dumped the organization of the end-of-the-cycle party on her just to size her up.

Nir could have entrusted any of his subordinates with this part of the project, but it was also an important event for him. “You’re very welcome, commander. Happy to be of assistance.”

One click from Nir’s end.

Commander Sera squealed in his ear, “It’s perfect!”

“I’ll see the result tonight. I’m sure everyone will have a great time.”

“I hope so. Thanks again, chief!”

“You’re welcome, commander. Goodbye.” The communication ended, and Nir wondered if he should have said “Until later” instead of a cold “Goodbye.” He shrugged (sinking into his chair a little), the commander had apparently been extremely happy to notice.

Nir felt growing excitement too. A slight sense of apprehension wanted to push its way into the surface, but he decided not to force it away. For the moment, he needed to confirm that everything was in place to keep the systems running smoothly as the majority of the crew enjoyed the celebration.

They would receive the 2418 cycle as they reached the Ascella System in ten standard days. Hopefully (if he didn’t botch his “date” tonight), by that time Nir and Bebu would be able to hold hands surrounded by the Sagittarius constellation while off-duty.

Una, his assistant, approached him, a schematics hologram floating from her compad. “We’re done with the last verification, chief. Nordar should have a nice shift without complications.”

“Are we going to send his giver up here when the exchange begins? What about his receiver?” Nir asked.

“Oh, that,” she shrugged as if the situation wasn’t important, “he contacted but parties as soon as he learned he was in charge of that shift.”

“Is that a normal thing to do? This is my first Hidden Giver after all.”

“Well, there's no regulation against it, especially for those who need to remain at their post during the event,” she offered matter-of-factly.

“It makes sense,” he agreed. Although in his mind, the whole point of the endeavor was the possibility of spending time with Bebu. Was he supposed to spend time with his giver too? He never asked about that. He focused back on the woman beside him. “Very well, I will see you tonight at the party.” He stood up and (with a nod to those around him) walked out of the Computers Department control room.

By the time Nir arrived at the end-of-the-cycle party, the celebration was in full swing. Captain Wang had commented last year’s theme had been a Rubian Forest. Tonight, Commander Sera had transformed the mess hall into a Terran Winter land; everything was white and silver. At least fifty giant crystal sculptures commanded the area, and myriad little lights titillated all over the place (their patterns and sequences thanks to Nir’s department). The crew had been advised to dress in white, and they were— enhancing the gleaming magic of the moment.

People danced and laughed. Nir moved amid them feeling the cheerful energy and searching for that special human who had captured more than his imagination. He found the man surrounded by a group, enraptured as they listened to Bebu.

A couple of meters before reaching the group, all erupted in laughter, and in that moment Bebu lifted his eyes and saw Nir. He stopped laughing, but he smiled wide and his eyes beamed. Those around him noticed the action and turned to find out what was making the human look so happy. When they saw Nir, they opened a path, allowing Bebu to approach him.

Bebu’s hair wasn’t tied tonight; it rested long and wavy over his wide shoulders. His sleeveless white top shimmered faintly, showcasing the flat abdomen and broad chest. His pants were made of crisscrossing stripes that hugged narrow hips and bulking thighs. Face-to-face, Bebu grinned and said, “You leave me speechless.”

“I am dumbstruck, but I’ll try my best to be coherent,” Nir offered after swallowing hard.

A low growly laugh came out of Bebu. “Seems like we are not going to be conversing much.”

Nir cocked his head. “We can dance.”

“True,” agreed Bebu.

In that moment the music changed from rhythmic and enthusiastic to a languid cadence. Couples started to move toward the center of the hall. Bebu offered his hand. Nir took it.

The embrace was tentative, yet solid. Nir trembled a little, but before he could feel embarrassed he realized Bebu had trembled in his arms too. “I’m your hidden giver,” he whispered, his eyes locked with Bebu’s.

Bebu nodded solemnly, then moved to speak in Nir’s ear, “I’m yours.”

“How can you— oh. You mean I am your receiver.” Yes, this human certainly made Nir lose his head. For a moment there, he thought the words had been a love confession.

“That too,” said Bebu, and softly touched his lips to Nir’s.

This time Nir didn’t tremble; he closed his eyes, sought Bebu’s lips, and, as they kissed, he felt surprisingly grounded.

Bebu’s hair caressed Nir’s cheek; they slowly broke the kiss. Dancing to the soft melody, they simply smiled, lost in each other’s eyes, secured in the other’s certain embrace.

When the music transformed into an upbeat number, they walked toward the table with all the presents, holding hands. Nir wanted to call sacrilegious the fact that he had to release Bebu’s hand to be able to grab the box with his present.

“Open mine first,” Bebu said, presenting the perfectly square box to Nir. He held it with both hands as if it were an offering to a deity.

Nir set the elongated box he held back on the table and accepted Bebu’s. He opened it. A brilliant sphere surged out of the box and hovered between them. It was bright but the numbers moving over its surface were perfectly legible.

The set of numbers was a date, but it wasn’t that night’s date or that of the day they met so casually in Zimski Station. It wasn’t Nir’s first day aboard the Qizil Tacir either, but it was somewhat close to that date. They stared at each other for a moment wordlessly.

“I know this has a meaning, and I promise you I’ll figure it out.” Nir hugged Bebu and gave him a quick kiss on the lips.

Bebu kept his arms around Nir’s waist and back, squeezing— not hard but firmly. “It’s the day I first lay eyes on you,” Bebu whispered. “Right here in the mess hall.”

Nir pushed their chests apart and gazed at Bebu’s silver eyes, mentally agape and with faulty legs. The bright gift cast a golden glow over them, making Nir think of old Terran legends about guiding stars and miracles. He rested his head back on Bebu’s hard chest. “My gift would be so mundane now,” he sighed.

“Nah,” Bebu kissed the top of Nir’s head, “you bought it for me, so it means a lot. No matter what.” He gave Nir one last quick squeeze before releasing him. “Can I open it now?”

Nir nodded, picking up the box and offering it to Bebu.

Bebu opened it with child-like enthusiasm. His eyes widened as he surveyed the contents. His face slowly turned toward Nir, a cheeky grin flourishing. “How did you know?”

Nir felt heat on his cheeks. “It was a hunch.” And it seemed to have been a right one.

Bebu brought the gift out, leaving the box on the table. He inspected it, turning it this way and the other with both hands. The midnight blue leather harness with silver trimmings seemed a complicated contraption, but Bebu easily downed. It expanded nicely over his chest, framing his pectorals to perfection.

Nir imagined how it would look over Bebu’s naked skin, and many things stirred in his body.
Bebu grabbed Nir in a bear hug, swirling their entwined bodies and exclaiming, “I love it! I love it!”
They laughed riotously, not caring about all the crew members around. When they finally stop spinning, Bebu covered Nir’s face with kisses.

“I want to tell you something,” Nir said quietly.

Bebu held Nir’s face with both hands, his eyes roaming all over as if unable to have enough. “Anything.”

“You asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.”

“Yes, I did.”

The husky whisper fathered goosebumps, but Nir found his voice. “I wanted to be special.”

Bebu closed his eyes and put their brows together. “Oh, sweet Nir Kah of Thereon, you are. You are.”

Sunday, November 26, 2017

LOVE IN THE TIME OF SOCIAL MEDIA


You might have probably heard of Gabriel García Márquez “Love in the Time of Cholera,” but what you probably not know is that in Spanish “Cólera” (the original word in the title) also means anger. The book follows the characters within the context of the cholera epidemic at the time and the anger destroying their lives.

Now, I am glad I don’t usually write contemporary romance (and when I said “contemporary” I’m not talking about after WWII, I’m talking about from 2010 forward) because humans have become an angry species, and Social Media is the petri dish where all the festering things wrong with us today incubate.

How am I supposed to write about two (usually young) people who must certainly live glued to their gadgets and are offended by the silliest things while there are hunger, poverty, human trafficking and a thousand other ugly things really happening but are none of their concern? You’ll rarely see an instance of homophobia in my books; lots of people write about that and use it as the conflict for their stories. So, I don’t see a reason to add to that; there are other situations (especially internal situations) available to keep any story interesting. Bad things exist, homophobia, racism, bigotry, but instead of being victims of those things, we need to move forward, beyond them because there is a moment when those things turn into the only prism you use to analyze reality and you sink into that mess really fast and bitterly.

We have turned into fragile, selfish creatures, obsessed with image and immediate fame. We ask the other person’s role in bed even before knowing their full name or birthdate. We judge people based on what they let us see on Social Media. We condemn people for being human and making mistakes. We allow those in power to distract us with bullshit while they use all their cunning to rob us blind, selling their lies as benefits (but for whom, them or us?).

Fiction needs to be anchored in reality; today’s reality is a sad one, an angry one, a petty one. This is why I write about the past (we made mistakes but it’s done so we cannot fuck it more) and the future (hoping somehow it becomes something better than today) because many real people of today (of all sexual persuasions) are very, very hard to love, and don’t want to be loved either: they want to be admired.

Of course, there are exceptions, but that’s exactly my point “cases that do not conform to a rule or generalization.” Isn’t it sad that the angry, easily offended people aren’t the actual exceptions?
I’m not going to blame technology. Social Media has not turned us into monsters; we did, using anonymity, hiding behind a keyboard, to spew all the nasty things we did not have the balls to say face-to-face to other human beings. To spread our insecurity, our lack of hope in a comment section as if it could cure us instead of trying to dig inside for our reasons to be so fucking angry all the time. 

Every so often you’ll see a comment section of anything (a song, a sad story, a joke, a movie trailer, a suicide note, a news report) without some dismissal, hatred, or mockery. When the only thing you could share with the world is negativity, the world is not the problem, you are. It’s perfectly normal to go through a bad time, a bad season, a bad year, but if you rather drown in the bad than trying to kick up to the surface, seeking positivity = you are the problem.

So, yeah, I don’t expect; I hope.

And I honestly hope there is something better ahead; that those born in this century get tired of the angriness of their fathers and work to unite the human race, guiding it to a brighter future.


Monday, October 23, 2017

BAD GUYS


There’s no good story without conflict. There’s no conflict without antagonists. The Truman twins are the crazy baddies of ARZANALE. Ghyls owns Lugal Industries, a powerful conglomerate with tentacles all around the world. His brother has embraced the soul within him and now uses the name Kadan Merone, the reincarnation of a High Priest of the Assyrian god Ashur.

Hell-bent on complete a sacred ceremony interrupted by a war before the Great Pyramids were built, they would do all in their power to thwart our heroes Hugo, Kovak, Snyder in their mission to acquire (or destroy, mind you) the key to unleash unfathomable power and dominate humanity.

From Pennsylvania to Venice, from the Black Sea to Iraq’s desert— this is a race against time and destiny.







#comingsoon #fiction #mmromance #gay #men #gayromance #threesome #triad #gayfiction #ebook #paranormal #ancienthistory #contemporary #weapons #humanity #twins #mercenaries #authorsofinstagram #menofgabbo #villains #antagonists #baddies #gabbodelaparra

Sunday, October 15, 2017

CLOCKWORK VENDETTA - PROLOGUE



Fall 1870
Minerva Academy
Chapel Town, Province of Maryland.

The floor to ceiling windows were open, and the tired whirring of the upper fans could not compete with the incessant drone of Red Cloud Hesper, second son of the Marquis of Sheshewa. It didn’t matter that his hair was dark and glossy, his eyes exotic and cat-like. He and his twin sister, White Feather, had gone to London for the summer and upon their return were more insufferable than ever.

“And, thus, the similar technology of the local peoples deterred the invasion agenda of the original settlers.” Red Cloud finally shut his pretty mouth.

Bosco pulled his cravat. History was the most boring subject ever, and what could have been a two minutes exposition turned into a twenty minutes pre-battle discourse in Red Cloud’s hands.

“Thank you, lord Hesper.” Mrs. Wellington’s tone was one of unnecessary praise. “Who wants to continue?” Her chubby cheeks moved upward as she smiled at Bosco’s twenty-four classmates.

Several hands shot up, waving for Mrs. Wellington’s attention. Bosco didn’t even try; their teacher usually dotted on the pupils belonging to the peerage. Bosco’s family was probably wealthier than many with a title, and he was a prince among his people, but his status wasn’t matter of public knowledge along with his kind promoting clandestine endeavors throughout the land.

On second thought, History wasn’t that boring, it was their teacher’s preference for some students what made it a drag; she wouldn’t have allowed any commoner such a lengthy expansion of a simple topic.

“Lady Seer, please pick up where Lord Hesper left.”

Helena stood up. Bosco liked her; she wasn’t stuffy like some of the others, and the pretty blond ringlets around her face made her look like a beautiful porcelain doll. She started reading her homework. “For a hundred years there was peace between the European settlers and the locals, but what technology kept in check was pushed forward by religion. Many of the settlers had come to this area of the New World to be able to worship their god in their own way, but, in time, they forgot they had been prosecuted and turned against those who didn’t worship their solitary deity.” Helena made a pause as if this part of New Englalonde’s history affected her the most. “The Massachusetts Witch Trials (1692-93) triggered The Sacred Conflict, a seven-year war. The English Crown, even if Polytheist itself, decided to leave the resolution of the conflict in its New World dominions to the residents because they didn’t want to deal with another Monotheist uprising, which was what prompted the original immigration wave. Luckily for New Englalonde, the Polytheists won.”

Bosco knew luck didn’t have anything to do with that outcome. His own family’s mills and factories had greatly helped to ensure the Polytheists’ success. Religious prosecution would have jeopardize the existence of his people in the New World; therefore, his family and all others of his kind had helped with resources (and in many cases their own powers) to guarantee a favorable outcome for the followers of the ancient ways.

“Excellent, Lady Seer,” Mrs. Wellington chirped. Bosco was expecting another round of shooting hands when their teacher unexpectedly said, “Mr. Rogers.”

Startled, Bosco thought she was calling him out because she saw his index finger on its way to his right nostril. His whole body shot upward like the pesky hands of those eager to ingratiate themselves with their teacher. He entwined his fingers behind his back, unconsciously putting away the almost offending digit. “Yes, Mrs. Wellington?”

“Would you care to tell us what happened after The Sacred Conflict?”

A lock of white hair had fallen over Bosco’s eye. This white section of his abundant hair had always been a source of amusement and intrigue among his fellow classmates. After all, Bosco was only fourteen years old. In his still startled state, he blew it instead of fix it with his hand. Giggles wafted around him. “Well, the Polytheists won,” he said, trying to gather his thoughts and forgetting his homework was right before him on his desk.

“That detail has been established already.”

“Um, there was no persecution of the Monotheists at the end of the war. Pretty sure that wouldn’t have been the case if they had won,” Bosco said, voicing a though frequently observed by his grandfather. The giggles became riotous laughter.

“Please focus, Mr. Rogers.” Her disapproval was clear after he had altered the rhythm of her class with his commoner’s views of a long-ended war.

“Well, many Monotheists started to sell their properties, and an almost twenty-five year exodus toward the Catholic-centered Spain dominions ensued.” Bosco scrunched his nose, trying to remember more of his homework. “Oh, and as those left, two northern chunks of New Spain seceded and joined New Englalonde. That’s how we got the Duchy of Texas in 1730 and the Principality of California in 1735!”

Bosco stood there stoically as the classroom crumbled around him. The guys were doubled forward, holding their bellies and cackling, while the girls— keeping a little more restrain, laughed loudly behind their unfolded fans.

“Such a crude summarization of fifty-year expanse of history.” Mrs. Wellington’s face had acquired a very unbecoming shade of purple. “Please, bring your homework forward, Mr. Rogers.”

Bosco hadn’t read from his homework. Nevertheless, he knew she was going to destroy him because he saw the red ink coming out of the upper drawer of her desk.

Bosco Rogers Senior, Alpha of the Central Pride and Ruler of the Prides Syndicate, usually started reprimands with “Your ancestors didn’t come from Italy and changed the illustrious Rogeri surname to Rogers to fit in a new world just to have their descendants fail their education!”

Oh boy.


You may get your copy of CLOCKWORK VENDETTA here:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/751085

Saturday, September 30, 2017

CLOCKWORK VENDETTA IS AVAILABLE NOW



Heir to the Central Alpha (current Ruler of the New Englalonde Prides Syndicate), Bosco Rogers is destined to forfeit his legacy as Alpha to keep the peace among the lion shifters because he must let his intended, Sean Bracco from the East Pride, become the next Ruler.

But Sean dies in an accident, and an ancient law is unearthed. The heirs of the other Prides must compete for Bosco’s hand, and the choice is his. The thing is— one is Duncan, brother of his dead fiancé; and the other Heer Pyfus, the man who holds Duncan’s heart.

So, whoever wins (whether Duncan or Heer) still loses because he will not end up with the man he truly loves. Bosco doesn’t know this from the get-go, and when he discovers it, things turn messier than they were before. Nevertheless, political marriages have nothing to do with love.

Bosco will only marry one but is meant to break two hearts with his decision.

The arrival of a new Alpha from the other end of the world seems like a solution to their ordeal, but perhaps it is the exact opposite.

This story is more “steamfun” than steampunk, but it still contains airships, automatons, a guide to undressing nineteenth century gentlemen, naughty jewelry— also California Royals, a cheeky Seer, crazy BFFs, Argentinian mercenaries, no-fly zones in Uruguay, and way more claws and fangs than a battle between vampires and werewolves, but the only shifters you will see here are lion shifters— very hunky lion shifters. You just need to look at the cover. All characters portrayed in this book are age 18 or older. For adults only


*Get your copy here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/751085

#mmromance #steampunk #threesome #triads #alternativehistory #bothhemispheres #BFFs #airships

Sunday, September 17, 2017

AN OLD PLACE FROM A NEW LIGHT

Ancient Evil waiting to be summoned: check
Power Hungry Secret Society: check
Undercover Mercenaries: check
Three Men trying to figure out what to do with their love: check
Big Ass Weapons (worldly and otherworldly): check
Naughty Gay BAR: check
Escort Spies: check
Handing Bad Guys their asses: check
Explosions and Shenanigans: check





#fiction #mmromance #threesome #triad #gay #menofgabbo #weapons #mercenaries #paranormal #contemporary #europe #authorsofinstagram #venice #bookstagrammers #ebooks #2017 #yearofthetriads #iamwriting #gabbodelaparra

Saturday, August 26, 2017

THE LOVE THAT WASN'T SUPPOSED TO BE

Snyder was not supposed to become part of Hugo's life; nonetheless, he did.



“Uh-huh. Nobody climbs the rope higher, aims better, or finishes a set faster. Our only problem with him seems to be, he can’t do a single one of those things quietly.”

Hugo chuckled.

“It’s not funny. Besides, there’s an ongoing wager to see who’s gonna pop his mercenary cherry.”

“What?”

“Well, you know. After forty-five days with us, someone should have claimed that fine body already. Even the Amazons are on the wager— as much as everybody is aware of his preferences. Such a tasty, unclaimed morsel is driving my soldiers nuts.”

“He’s no virgin.”

“That’s not the point.  I’ve broken fights of guys vying for his attention. The last one was over who’d pay for his beer. It was such a monumental brawl—none of my men will be able to set foot on that fucking bar for at least a century.”

“He needs to forget a man. Would you do me a favor?”

“Whatever you ask, baby.”

Snyder’s adoration was starting to suffocated Hugo. He also needed to forget a man. It was always easier to give advice than to actually follow it, and not all the rage in the world would have been enough to make him let go completely. That dull ache still reverberated in those nights when the moon was a sliver. His time to move to new pastures had come. “Tell your men you did it, so they back the Hell off.”

“You want me to have sex with Angel?”

“That would be his decision, not mine. Right now, he needs to be angry ‘til his love fades away. I’ll tell him to go along with it so your boys can pursue other ways of entertainment.”

The big blond moved from his sideways position on the tangled sheets to loom over Hugo. “Is this a goodbye?”

“I thought we had a tacit understanding we were just fuck buddies, not lovers.”

“You’re right.” Snyder plopped on his back to take his face away from Hugo’s sight. “My mistake.” The voice wasn’t completely Snyder's.

“Just don’t force Angel.”

“I’ll never… I’ll lie to my men, but I have no intention of claiming the boy.”

“Thank you.”

“I’m not doing this for you. He’s a good asset. I hope he stays with us.”

“He probably will.”

And Hugo would lose his charge, his little brother, his almost son. He scooted until he was seated at the end of the bed, elbows on his knees and palms over his face. In two days, Snyder and a group that included Angel would set up camp in the Cantabrian Mountains, preparing the destruction of the gate located at Picos de Europa National Park.

Softly, Hugo padded to the open window. The night breeze blew the curtains, and he stood there naked, watching the half-mast crescent moon. He sensed Snyder moving behind him, most assuredly to escape the room without awkward farewells.

A thick finger traced a line from the back of his neck to his coccyx. Warm breath tickled his ear. “One last time,” Snyder sighed, “for the road?”

Why the fuck not?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

NOR SUB NOR DOM


Deleted Scene. 

*Between Part One and Part Two, Bruno and Fabian, had an impromptu raunchy moment in a back alley. 



They had an hour to kill.

Not enough to catch a movie.

Food was out of the question because the kid would certainly want to eat something after his class.

“Let’s just walk for a bit,” Bruno said. “Maybe we’ll find an out of the way curio shop to pass the time.”

“I think there’s a bookstore ’round here somewhere.”

Bruno chuckled. “I don’t see you surrounded by books for only 30 minutes.”

His lover was right. Fabian would end up buying any book he started to read or carrying six to read them at home. At least they had ditched the bodyguards— as much as they could, since even when not visible, he knew they were close. Not having them breathing on his neck was good enough for now. They walked on a deserted street, so he pushed Bruno into an alley. It smelled reasonably right, just a musty reminder of home cooking lingered.

“What are you doing?” The flailing was in Bruno’s voice yet not in his actions. Fabian had never been able to understand how Bruno managed to do that.

“I’m taking us out of public view.”

“Whatever for?”

“We never have alone-time anymore. I adore the kid, but I miss my man.”

“Chief Acre, are you trying to ravish me in a dark alley as if I were a cheap trick?” Bruno did the expected token resistance, but the twinkle in his eyes was clear proof of his absolute approval.

“Why, commissioner, of course.” Fabian found a dimly lit corner where he could still inspect his lover with more than just his hands. “I haven’t spanked you in months, and I need my kinky fix.”

“You’re incorrigible.” Bruno’s sigh and the unzipping noise ran together as one.

Fabian covered Bruno’s mouth with his. From the corner of his eye, he saw a familiar bulk obstructing the entrance of the alley. Those mammoth shoulders and cock-shaped head belonged to Smith, Bruno’s head of security. Good boy. The man blocked the way but was respectfully looking toward the street, giving them privacy.

Bodyguards were a necessary evil; nevertheless, sometimes that evil was useful in its own way— they would not be interrupted now.

Fabian snorted softly, thinking what kind of reward Smith would tacitly request.

Bruno bit Fabian’s tongue. “Are you here, or planning the invasion of some distant planet?”

That swift pain went right to his cock, and Fabian moaned. “Oh, fuck. I’m here handsome. I am here.”

“Well, start acting accordingly and get on your knees.” Hands pushed Fabian’s shoulders down, tossing his thoughts of removing Bruno’s T-shirt into a not so distant garbage can.

Fabian squatted, not a hundred percent sure of the state of the alley floor; it was common knowledge that proper endeavors rarely left stains on your knees, so he decided not to risk it.

Bruno’s cock sprouted from its concealment, hard and proud, and Fabian inhaled, his nose glued to the shaft, forgetting all the mundane situations awaiting them outside this alley.

“Damn, I love when you do that,” Bruno sighed as he caressed Fabian’s close-cropped hair.

The answer was a healthy gulp, taking as much cock as he could in a single maneuver. Bruno hissed over him, the sound curling around Fabian’s entire body like a thick, long tentacle, squeezing and igniting every cell.

Fabian let the granite beast inch its way toward his willing throat, drinking in Bruno’s enraptured expression: eyes shut and mouth ajar. The scarce light of their little haven did wonderful things to the manly planes of that handsome face. Sweet Goddess, he was full of cock and full of love, and he didn’t know which fullness was better.

I swear it’s a total tie right now. 

The massive piece made love to Fabian’s uvula for a couple of minutes, accompanied by moans emanating from him and grunts and thrusts cascading from Bruno. Nevertheless, he needed one more thing to complete his fix.

Reluctantly, Fabian’s lips dragged over the expanse of the pole leaving his trap as he released it. He turned Bruno around. He pulled down the denim covering the furry hills with one hand and used the other to uncover the silky skin of Bruno’s lower back.

Fabian smacked the exposed cheeks until the silhouette of his hand glowed from both and Bruno’s moans had filled the alley. Satisfied by his handiwork, he burrowed his face between rocky globes, latching on his lover’s gauche ring.

Bruno squirmed and undulated, giving Fabian pure heaven.

A hand grabbed the back of Fabian’s head, pulling him deeper to attack his prey using nose, lips, and teeth. He assailed Bruno on both ends, taking care of the hidden gate ready to be breached and the (hot to the touch and dripping like a broken faucet) hardon.

“I’m so fucking close, babe,” Bruno grunted.

Fabian withdrew his face from his task enough to growl encouragingly, “C’mon, love, paint that wall.”

And with a shudder that rocked his entire body, Bruno complied.

Fabian’s hand got smeared as the sweet cock he held jettisoned rope after rope of thick cum. He went to his feet, turning Bruno around and slamming him against the wall. He opened his zipper with his clean hand and used the one covered in semen to finger his lover’s hole.

All sounds coming out of Bruno were swallowed by Fabian’s mouth as they devoured each other; his hands pistons in opposite directions, until he brought himself to completion with a cry that Bruno’s lips helpfully muffled. That particle of Fabian always in control gave him enough focus to aim for the alley and avoid messing his partner’s clothes.

“I needed that,” Fabian murmured, panting and letting his forehead rest on Bruno’s shoulder.

“Fuck yeah. Me too,” Bruno agreed. His chest heaved, undecided between a chuckle and a deep breath.

“Ahem.” Smith was almost in their personal space. He offered them two handkerchiefs.  “You can throw those away after you’re done.” His voice was grave and measured, but Fabian recognized a hint of amusement.

They looked anywhere but at Smith as they took the handkerchiefs. The one in Fabian’s hand had Smith’s initials monogrammed.

Embarrassing cannot begin to describe this moment.

Still, it was a good thing to have bodyguards after all.


#mmromance #daddies #piercings #fiction #nearfuture #maturemales 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

SCHADENFREUDE

A bit of reading material for your weekend: brownie points, teasing, and blowjobs among enemies... 
(there's also a werewolf)




CHAPTER SIX
Irrevocably

Orfeo

“If you think you earned some kind of brownie points for how you tricked the Supras into protecting us, you are pathetically mistaken.” Orfeo huffed. Droser Sundew wasn’t his favorite person at the moment.

“I just did what I thought was best for us.”

“There is no us.”

Droser flinched at his tone.

Good.

Before Droser could open his mouth again, Orfeo asked something that had been driving him crazy all night, “Star called you ‘the Maker.’ What did she mean by that?”

“Let me show you.” Droser pulled an ampoule from his jacket. The orange liquid glowed in the semi-darkness of their suite’s lounge.

“Are you a Deus dealer?”

“No. I created it. The dealers, well just Prussia now, get it from me.”

“You motherfucker.”

“Hey.” Droser put his hands up in surrender. “I’m not going to say that I created it to save the world and it went wrong. I was experimenting with the mucus of some Drosera plants. You know how scientists use their mucilage to elaborate tissue-connecting glue and other medical stuff. Well, I discovered that in certain combinations they become psychedelic stimulants to release endorphins in the highest levels known to mankind.”

“Save me the autobiography nonsense. The outcome’s a drug that keeps people like slaves.”

“That is not my fault.” Droser narrowed his eyes. “Each idiot knows why they go to it.” Then he flinched. “I didn’t mean Star…”

“I know what you meant.” Orfeo shook his head. Technically, it wasn’t Droser’s fault that Star was a drug addict. It was Orfeo’s fault for not doing anything to help her quit them. “You are just a frigging facilitator of commodities.”

“I’m a businessman.”

“You are a murderer,” Orfeo hissed. Did he really have the right to be calling Droser a murderer when he killed Supras for a living?

Supras were people too, had mothers and fathers and children that mourned them. Still, The Red Vanes only eliminated convicted Supras that escaped the justice system, so that had to count for something.

“It’s a bit hypocritical coming from you, isn’t it?” Droser smirked.

Orfeo’s body reacted to the smirk. Goose bumps sprouted, but he was able to suppress the shiver that would have followed in their wake. Even his traitorous nipples hardened. Never had his body reacted to a man in such a desperate way. He didn’t know if he wanted to shoot and quarter Droser or fuck him blind right there. “We can say we are no angels and call it even.” His voice sounded almost natural.

Droser cocked his head and studied him. The smirk turned into a saucy grin.

Shit. Bionic eyes.

“You’re watching my aura, aren’t you?”

“My enhancements assess more than auras,” Droser offered, shrugging.

His wayward body might be wanting to screw the living daylights out of Droser (and silently but inexorably convincing his mind), but the Supra’s involvement in their situation had given it a one-eighty turn straight to Crap Town, Alaska.

“Mister Lathan,” the suite’s computer pronounced officiously, “Mike Hardy is here to see you.”

Droser chuckled. “That dog is not going to stop until he has his nose buried in your ass.”

The Supras’ suite was two doors down from theirs, and Antha and Ashley had provided it with spells and enchantments to avoid unwelcome visitors. Mike had offered a more hands-on protection approach… A Machiavellian thought occurred to Orfeo. “Perhaps I’ll let him do more than sniff my hole.” Orfeo twisted his mouth as if he were actually considering it.

The change in Droser’s face was brutal and instantaneous. Before Orfeo could move out of the way, Droser had gripped his arms, shaking him. “You won’t!”

With a swift maneuver, Orfeo broke the hold and punched Droser in the face. “What? You still think that if we survive this trip to Mega-Vegas, we are on? That hovercraft crashed hours ago, asswipe.” He shook his hand, releasing some of the pain after its meeting with Droser’s mug.

Sprawled on the plush carpet, Droser touched his broken lip and looked at the blood left on his finger. “I didn’t know who my target was until after I met you.”

The sad part was that Orfeo believed him. Nobody was that good of an actor. He could not deny the things he saw in Droser’s eyes that afternoon in Prussia’s stairs— when they vid’d. “It doesn’t matter. Whatever this is— was,” he moved his hand to encompass them, “isn’t an option anymore.”

“There is always an option,” Droser said softly, sadly.

Orfeo closed his eyes and sighed.

“Mister Lathan, your visitor awaits,” the suite’s computer insisted softly.

“Let him in.”

“My, my,” said the Werewolf as he entered the lounge. He had showered and looked particularly dapper in a nice fitting red shirt and dark pants that accentuated every sexy bulge. He uttered (almost with relish), “Seems like enemies invading your quarters are unnecessary to start the punching party. I’m here to kiss those wounds better,” Mike offered, opening his arms grandly.

Orfeo chuckled. “You couldn’t be cheesier, even if you were stuffed with cheese.”

“Or hornier if he were covered in horns,” said Droser, who had produced a handkerchief and dabbed it on his lip.

“Now, puppies, you were fighting a moment ago. Don’t gang up on me… Well, I don’t mind—”

“Don’t say it,” Orfeo stopped him, raising his palm up. “Do you need something?”

“Are you offering?” Mike grinned. His eyes flashed with lecherous mirth.

“I asked if you needed, not if you wanted something. There’s a difference.” Orfeo offered a half smile to remove some harshness from his statement. He wasn’t keen on Supras, but Mike was entertaining in a corny way.

Maybe we can stuff him with corn.

“Just came to check on you, boys.” Mike browsed around. “Where’s Star?”

“She’s watching a movie.” Droser went to his feet.

Orfeo grabbed Mike by the arms and turned him toward the door. “All right, you checked. We are good. You can go now.” He spanked Mike once.

Mike jumped and guffawed. “I can get used to that.”

“Not in this lifetime, Mike!” yelled Droser behind them.

“A submissive Werewolf— that’s new,” Orfeo whispered in Mike’s ear.

“Liking pain is not necessarily about submission.” Mike looked at Orfeo sideways, his guttural voice making the statement sound like a threat.

“Still not going to happen, Wolf. See you later.” The door opened, and Orfeo pinched Mike’s ass. “For the road.”

“Tease,” Mike growled fondly.

Orfeo winked, and the door closed.

“Not happy about all that flirting,” Droser hissed, as Orfeo approached him.

“Your happiness’s the least of my concerns, Sundew.” Orfeo made a “give me that” motion. “Are you going to charge me for the Deus, mister businessman?”

Droser’s face crumbled for a second, just a blink. “I should.”

“And it’s your right. Although I must stress the fact that it is your fault that Star doesn’t have today’s dose, and because of that, we need to resort to this exchange.”

Wrong words.

“What are we exchanging?” Droser’s face brightened and Orfeo felt that obnoxious pang of desire surge— uninvited.

“I’m letting you live.”

“Oh.” Droser drew the ampoule from his pocket and put it in Orfeo’s hand. His fingers lingered longer than necessary.

What’s a blowjob between enemies?

No. What the fuck did this man do to him? Orfeo couldn’t seriously be contemplating that possibility amid this fucked-up situation, let alone with Star just a door away.

“Consider it a business expense.” Orfeo’s harsh tone wasn’t fooling Droser, who could frigging read his aura. Orfeo moved forward and kissed Droser, just a whisper of lips. He shook his head. “Perhaps, we were not meant to happen.” He turned around. “See you at sundown.”

He didn’t look back.

****

You can download the e-book for free here:
http://www.mmromancegroup.com/schadenfreude-by-gabbo-de-la-parra/