The clean up crew swooped in with a fluid, well trained efficiency. Flame, paint, body bags; these were just some of the accessories necessary to clean a site thoroughly.

The clean-up van was a Septic System van that had been converted on the inside. It was amazing. The rest of the world had no clue what was going on. There were agents injured. There were doppelgangers dead. And yet, the world at large was going on with their business.

Crimson was not the police, and so they had to ensure that if/when the police showed up…there would be no evidence. Not just evidence concerning Crimson either, evidence that would lead anyone: reporter, detective, internet blogger, you name it – to believe that there was…something else out there…something else going on.

The two men were manhandled, processed, cleaned, the whole thing was done, again, with that sterile, fluid proficiency. Johnny’s discomfort with the situation was obvious. Dev hadn’t warned him, this whole thing was so routine he had forgotten how odd it must have been for a newcomer.

“Just…roll with it,” Devon said as he slipped into his clothes. They were asked medical questions and the answers rolled off Dev’s tongue like it was old hat.

Johnny had thought getting through the adventure in and of itself was bad. By the time the clean-up crew got in there his opinion changed. They wanted everything and they wanted it right then. Johnny and Devon were tossed into a van where they had to change, were somehow cleaned without anyone ever even touching them and given new clothing. His was a bit on the baggy side – they had overestimated his height. Devon, of course, looked perfect.

The Alpha grinned at Johnny’s outfit. “They’ll get it right the next time John boy. It could be worse, Nicosia, in Demonology, was once given a wrestler’s singlet for his post mission gear. He’s fat. It wasn’t pretty.”

“So, I can’t help but get the funny side-kick gig in this, can I?” he asked the big lycan.

“Sidekick?” Dev said, scoffing. “The way ya handled yourself in the field, son… Raudine would be crazy ta think of ya as anything less than partner. You ain’t like Robin to our Superman and Batman. You’re more like – the Flash.”  If anything, Devon was pretty sure the kid knew his comic book references. For Devon, it was the only pop-culture anything in this world he’d come to enjoy with his sons.

Johnny reached down to grab his mini computer and the guy from the cleaning unit started to jerk it away from him. The geek-a-tude came out quickly enough. “MINE. You go create your own!”

Dev chuckled and  held up his hand. “Hey…he’s fine…he’s the new IT agent, your support…stuff doesn’t get taken from him.”

“I’m…I’m sorry sir…I…I didn’t know.” The Crimson Agent acted like he had just made the biggest of mistakes and he looked to Johnny.

“No problem.” Johnny placed it in his cargo pants thigh pocket and zipped it shut before walking off with Devon as if nothing were happening.

“See? Even they treat you with proper respect. Enjoy it. Save it up. Next time you have a meeting with Skinner, take it out and use it as a shield.” Devon chuckled.

“Oh, yeah… good point.” Then he got a vibration and took the thing right back out.  It was a video text. He opened it and saw a beautiful woman with brown eyes with those lycan-golden flecks in them.  He smiled and then looked to Devon, “I think she may want to talk to you.” He handed the small pad to … Superman. Yeah. Professor Raudine was obviously Batman in this bunch. 

Taking the thing from Johnny, Devon looked at the screen and gave a slow grin, “Hello my beautiful. How’d things go?” He never missed a step as he followed Johnny along the way while talking to his mate.

“They got here in time, stinking and covered in blood and who knows what else, but they delivered the witness needed to force blood tests. The renegade doppels are in custody and the Lady Vanishte has agreed to what needs to happen to move her people’s rights forward in this world.” Eva looked him over from where she was. “You okay?”

“Good to know it wasn’t all for nothin’. I’m alright, Eva, and I’ll be home in just a little while. I’m gonna help John boy make sure that everything gets cleaned up proper. Ya got a package waitin’ at the cabins for ya. She needs special care.” Eva would understand what he meant even though he wasn’t giving her much to work with. They had ears all around them and he couldn’t get into depth over it.

“I’ll be on my way, then. Derek is handling the schedules for guardianship at the Council Chamber this round.” Eva smiled. “I love you. I’ll see you when you get home, my mate. Don’t make it too long a wait?”  She made a kissing with her lips and then cut the feed.

After Devon said his goodbyes, he handed the blank tablet back to Johnny to put away again. His mate was one of a kind and he knew that he was very blessed to have her. “Now ya were sayin’?”

“So, this…all this – it’s been going on for how long? I know at least centuries, right?”

“It’s been going on for a long, long time. Rumors range from the tenth century, to the Spanish Inquisition. What I do know is that it gets bigger and bigger. It’s not a mom and pop store anymore. It all began with the war between witches and hunters here in North America. Personally I think it started in Europe and Asia much longer before that. But that’s just the stuff that I know and hear.”

“But I mean, in the modern era, have there been many close calls?”

Several faces of lost ones flashed before Dev’s eyes. “Close calls?”

“Where people almost died? You know, the good guys?” Johnny asked.  

“Yeah…” He exhaled big. “I wish it was just close calls, but it’s worse. There are lots of people lost because, despite how powerful Crimson, or the tech that they develop is, the supernaturals have something that Crimson don’t. Power and motivation to try and be on top again. Not all of us, to be sure. A lot of us want what that doppelganger lady said they wanted – to just live and be left alone ta do so. It’s the bad apples that make things rough.  And truth be told, they can pop up on both sides, John-Boy.”  The two of them rounded the corner, coming out of an alley. “That’s why Taskers and Agents try to get Supernaturals to join Crimson. They have the power Crimson needs to stop the onslaught so they recruit a lot because they have to fill the roles that are left by…days we wish were just close calls.”

“It’s all so top secret. How? I mean, even I as amazing as I am couldn’t possibly end all feeds say – over in Europe? England is wired a lot tighter than the U.S. Cameras and digital media everywhere. How does Crimson  stay secret?”

It was a good question, but it was the one question that Dev hated the most, because his imagination ran wild with the possibilities. Those possibilities weren’t always good or even ethical. Hence the need for Taskers.

“Truthfully…I don’t know. I know, for a fact, that there are times when their work takes them beyond the big bad monsters and into the homes and lives of those that support the big bad monsters. People disappear, people end up washed up on the beach, houses burn down, traffic lights malfunction. Honestly, I don’t know how they aren’t found out, even with all that. All I can come up with is the fact that there are a ton of things going on that you and I will never know.”


They had left the Chamber and the Council Complex after all of the proceedings were done and over with. Raudine was Gabriel’s Tasker, so it didn’t seem unusual at all for them to leave together, especially tonight. The only thing bad was the fact that Gabriel had picked up his personal car, his Bentley, and Jean was covered in blood.  At least it looked… dried…  

“You seem like you could use a going over by the doctor. Are you sure…”

“My Sanctuary, sil vous plait,” he spoke softly, for his mind was awhirl with thought about laws and rules and promises… made… that stood against this; about what Skinner had said. Skinner knew and how long before the bastard found out more? How far would the man dig? Thankfully, his Sanctuary was not open to any magical intrusion or physical intrusion.   He listened to Gabriel move smoothly through the gears and out of the gravel lot onto the road.

Keeping his eyes on the road Gabriel got tired of the awkward silence and so attempted to start conversation, “So.. first I really need to ask is all of that blood dried? It seems like it is but I want to make sure. I know you’re sitting on a towel but, I just want to be sure I shouldn’t take the car to be cleaned afterward.” The seats were leather and he didn’t need to have nightmares about blood stains in it. He took the next corner and listened to the purr of the engine.

“Yes, it’s dried. Seems like I brought out the OCD in you, eh?” the Tasker chuckled. “Take the next right. Go into the circle using the right fork after. It’s the fourth drive to the right.”  

“Well, yes. That, and you’ve brought out the curiosity in me. Humor me. It’s a long drive.” He tried to keep his eyes on the road as he followed the directions to the Sanctuary. “It’s not your blood, is it?”

“Not much of it, no. It’s vampire blood. Next question.”

“Next question is why did yours and Evansworth’s blood look like Joseph’s when it was tested in the Chamber? He’s a magi but mostly human at that.”

“Because though I am sporting a ruggedly handsome human body, some of my magic – dragon magic – flows through to it in order to keep it alive. So the more magic mixes with blood of this kind, the more it resembles that of a magi. Sebastian had to drink some of my blood back there at Pandora’s Box. He got shot. The blood on me is mostly Angela’s blood and his blood. But, as you could see by the way he was so hyper back there, the blood did him good.”

“Oh..” The last part stuck, but it was the part about Sebastian feeding that seemed to repeat in his head. Gabriel kept his eyes on the road and tried not to imagine Sebastian at Senias’ neck. He couldn’t help it. They had a past. He shook his head just slightly. Why it should bother him, he had no clue. It wasn’t like he had any hold on the dragon and history was history. “Guess it’s a good thing you were there then.”

Senias felt nervous.  He hated feeling nervous. When he did, he tended to try and take charge of whatever was happening. They were moving toward the fork and circle when he asked, “Have any more questions off the top of your head, Gabriel?”

There was a low chuckle, “I have hundreds of questions Jean-Michel. You’re extremely fascinating whether you believe it or not.”  Flipping off his blinker Gabriel slowed down to turn, “For instance what’s your favorite place to visit?”

“Ireland. When the fields are full green and colorful with flowers.” He let his eyes move over to Gabriel and he asked in turn, “What  is your favorite place to visit?”

“I don’t have one. I travel for business so…I haven’t really had a reason to site see in any of them.” Gabriel cleared his throat as he focused on driving again. The outing to the bar was the first excursion he’d allowed himself that wasn’t business related. And it had been brought on by extreme stress.

“Since we’re alone, I would prefer you call me Senias. It’s my true name, as you may recall.” It was an offering that he hadn’t allowed himself to make in a very long time.  Not even his best friend called him by his true name anymore because they had become accustomed to pretending. Why was he still going to do this? He had every reason not to cause more trouble.  He could so very easily go to the Inferno and sweep Mira into bed and be satisfied and even sore and tired by morning – no commitment, no entitlement, no tangling. What… the…fuck… was he letting himself do?   

“Thank you, Senias. I remember.” Gabriel kept the smile on his face as he pulled up in front of the beautiful old home. “Here we are safe and sound. See, I’m not completely dependent on others. There are a few things I do without assistance.” He winked when he looked at the man in his passenger seat.   

“I’m sure there are,” the Tasker sighed as he unlatched his seatbelt.

Gabriel turned sideways in his seat so that he could face the dragon. “Are you good from here?” His fingers touched the top of Senias’ hand as he had placed it on the console to help steady himself to get out.  

Reluctantly, Sen looked into Gabriel’s eyes. “Do you realize the risk?” Senias asked rather than getting out of the car. “What risk you put yourself in if you… and I…?” The dragon was obviously considering the fact that a Tasker was not allowed to be personally involved in their Councilor’s lives in such a way. But on top of that – he was a dragon, a wanted creature on the list of those worthy of death. If it were found out that Gabriel knew he was a dragon, little on that they might cross this line – his human Councilor could lose everything.

There was a momentary expression of surprise then Gabriel looked to the front of the vehicle and the house they were parked in front of for a moment. They had been in this moment before. He had been tipsy before, but nonetheless…he had made that decision then and it hadn’t changed.  

Rather quickly, he turned back to Senias and gave an honest answer, “My entire life has revolved around rules of being a Councilor and regulations of the Chamber along with the strategies of business.. so yes I realize.”

“And you’re willing to throw caution to the wind anyway?” Senias was just trying to be sure of the situation. Why would Gabriel want to be with him when he had the pick as one of the most eligible bachelors in the business world?  

“Someone once told me that the world wasn’t worth saving if one couldn’t enjoy it.”  Gabriel sighed. “You make me enjoy it. You make me want to enjoy it… more and more.”

Senias turned and using his hand, pulled Gabriel to meet him so that he could taste the Councilor. Their lips met and he enjoyed something he’d been denied the night after the pub; something he’d denied himself for over two centuries.   

Leaning across the middle console of the car Gabriel was drawn into the kiss and was thankful he’d put the car in park. As the kiss ended Gabriel was breathless, his heart was racing and he couldn’t stop himself from licking his lips.

“This is insane,” Senias whispered. He took a deep breath and shook his head.  Licking his lips he added, “If you’re staying pull the car under the carport. If you’re going, leave as soon as I get out.” Senias opened his door and stepped out, closing it behind him. He held his breath.

Seeing Gabriel pull forward beneath the canopy, the draconic man exhaled. Senias could feel his body yearning for this enjoyment only found with a male. He had not been with another in a very long time. Gabriel had intrigued him for years, but he’d only found out the mutual nature of the interest recently. There was also the aspect of this situation that Gabriel was possibly not considering – that Senias was owned by the Kennedy Family.  He was already bound to the man. What would crossing this line do? They were playing with fire. It seemed that, like him,  Gabriel didn’t mind the heat.

Gabriel followed the instructions and pulled his Bentley into the car port where he parked it and turned the engine off. What they were doing was dangerous, of that there was no doubt. But he’d kept his real relationships secret for years and there was no reason they could not do the same this time. At least with “Jean-Michel” being his Tasker there was every reason for them to have meetings. Crimson business was a great cover. Business had been a cover previously. That was one thing Gabriel had learned on his own through the years. His lovers had always had a reason to be in his presence in public and in private. There was never anything to question where any were concerned.

Senias walked to the side gate. His hand upon it, he concentrated to be sure that the magical wards did as he desired. He wanted Gabriel to be able to move in without anyone being able to see into the field.

Climbing out of the car Gabriel walked around it and waited for Senias to lead the way inside. He knew the dragon had the place heavily warded and he didn’t want to accidentally step into any of them. “Never broken these particular rules before have you?” Gabriel relaxed a little even though the tension between them was still very much there.


“I’ve never known you to be a stickler for rules Senias. As a matter of fact I can think of several times I’ve had to call you about rule breaking.”

Opening the gate, he motioned for Gabriel to follow him on in. His smirk was one that told his conspirator that he was considering the questions.  “I don’t give a fuck about the rules, unless the rules catch up to me.  And in this case, I don’t want that to happen, because there would be dire consequences on both sides.” He opened the back door and held it open for Gabriel. “Crimson can be a jealous creature, Gabriel. And Magic? Sometimes more so.” Once the Councilor had passed, he closed and locked the door, replacing the spellwork easily.  

As soon as the man turned after entering the threshold, Senias pulled Gabriel by the front of his perfectly pressed shirt to him so that he could really get a deep and delicious kiss. His hands moved over the material of Gabriel’s shirt to feel the muscles below and he groaned.

Thankful that he’d left his jacket in the car, Gabriel was quickly overtaken by the heat that Senias gave off as he was pushed back and kissed. He shuffled backwards several steps while Sen’s lips moved over his, seeming to steal his very breath away. There was the hard press of a wall against his back that helped support against the ferocity of the draconic male that was determined to taste as much of him as possible right then. Gabriel’s fingers were curling in the Tasker’s bloody shirt, tugging it free of pants. Long, masculine fingers crept beneath to smooth over the solid flesh that tensed at his touch.  For once, he wasn’t even thinking about the dirt. He just wanted to touch this man and not be interrupted this time.

Unlike Gabriel or his previous lovers, Jean-Michel – no – Senias was a man who didn’t bother with keeping his body primped and perfect. Beneath the shirt was coarse hair that led a trail down to his hard cock. He had a few scars that could be felt as well. On his back beneath Sen’s right shoulder blade was the partial brand of the Kennedy Clan back when they were known as the Ceannéidigh Clan; back when they had taken dragons as indentured servants.  

As his fingers moved through the wiry hair Gabriel found he rather enjoyed the sensation. It seemed they were indeed opposites in many ways. Where he was smooth, Sen was rough and where Sen had scars that rippled over the flesh, Gabriel’s skin was unblemished. Gabriel was shocked to hear himself groan low at the way he was sandwiched between Senias and the wall. The feel of the man pressing full against him made his whole body tingle with excitement and pleasure. He’d been hard since the first kiss in the car and this only made him uncomfortably harder – he had no idea this was even possible.

The kiss ended and Senias moved his mouth from bruised lips to Gabriel’s scruffy chin and then to his neck. All the while, his hands moved downward.

There was a sharp intake of breath as he listened to the buttons bounce and click, click, click against the tile floor and he felt the air rush over his heated skin.

It was the sound of the gasp that had Senias slowing; pausing to ask, “Have you ever been with one of us? – with a supernatural?”

“Once.. several years ago..” Gabriel was breathing hard with his heart racing with that little rush of excitement that was mixed with the nervous feeling that was spreading through him. “Wasn’t a bad experience, but could have been better..” Gabriel’s hands moved along the dragons waistband to enjoy the feel of him.

“Sorry to hear it was disappointing,” Sen finished removing the shirt and then backed up and slowed down a pace.  

Kissing the side of Sen’s neck Gabriel then looked him in the eyes, “Are you different than other men in some way?” Gabriel slid one hand down the front of the dragons pants to grasp the hardened length there as if inspecting to make sure.

Sen’s palm rested on the side wall to steady himself as Gabriel touched him. Chuckling, he replied, “No, I have a human body. However, I can be sensitive in certain places that relate to my natural body. And right now,” Gabriel stroking him was something he was enjoying so very much. That strong hand… “I’m trying to keep myself under control, though. We supernaturals can often be a bit more wild and untamed than humans are accustomed to. Remember the night after the pub? I picked you up and dumped you in the bed…” He chuckled at the memory. Gabriel had been surprised, but that hadn’t stopped either of them that night. The only thing stopping them had been two nosy lycan.  

The sound of that husky chuckle made Gabriel grin. He used his one hand to work Senias’ pants open while still stroking him with the other hand.

“The last thing I want in a lover is control…” He kissed the side of Sen’s neck and then bit the skin lightly to tease him further. The dragon had always been the wild unmanageable Tasker that Gabriel had to reign in. Now, he was being controlled when Gabriel wanted anything but? No. That ruined the fantasy. That had to stop. 


It was after at least an hour or more of intense pleasure that the two finally collapsed on the huge couch they had used. Blissfully numb and yet with every nerve in his body firing off, Gabriel laid there on top of Senias staring at the ceiling for several long minutes as he fought to catch his breath. Covered in sweat as he was, it was easy enough to shift and slide against the dragon just enough to separate their bodies. Gathering up enough strength and energy, Gabriel rolled so that they were chest to chest and he was partially on Senias and partially on the huge couch. That was all that he could accomplish. His legs felt like jelly. His cheek laid on the hairy chest and he closed his eyes a moment, just listening to the heartbeat of the other man. Normally he would get up, shower, dress, and go home at this point. That was one rule that had stood with every lover he’d ever had; until now.

Right then, all that Gabriel wanted to do was close his eyes, let his guard down, and just sleep.

For his part, Senias hadn’t been with a lover he actually would rest with in literally hundreds of years. Feeling Gabriel’s weight on him was actually comforting and he let himself doze as his body recovered.

For almost twenty minutes Gabriel allowed himself to enjoy the blissful moment. Then he lifted his head and looked at Senias. “Well.. definitely a first for me.” His body ached and felt sore but there were absolutely no complaints.

“What is a first for you?” Now it was the dragon’s turn to be curious.

There was a rough chuckle from Gabriel as he admitted, “Turning over control to another.. And I rarely bottom.”

“You… did a good job?” Senias chuckled as he gave the compliment, the questioning was there because he was wondering if that was what Gabriel had wanted to know.

“Should I go, Sen?” Gabriel asked not so much because he wanted to, but because he wasn’t sure what Sen’s arrangements were with his lovers and it would be rude to assume he was welcome to stay.

“Only if that’s what you desire, Gabriel.” Sen found himself stroking the backs of his fingers against Gabriel’s skin as he spoke. “If you stay, I warn you that it’s been awhile since I shared space with someone,” he gave the man a wicked, lopsided grin.  He looked nearly shitfaced. “I don’t know if I kick or snuggle at this point, or which you’d find worse. And I’ve not shared a bed with someone in so long, I have no idea if I snore – so there’s that.” He wasn’t going to kick Gabriel out, but he wasn’t going to let the man think he was perfect, either.  Perfect was a fairytale. “I think I cuddled the other night. I don’t know if I snored… you were sound asleep.”

There was a subtle shifting of Gabriel’s hips as he adjusted better for both himself and Sen. The last thing they needed was a misplaced knee. Besides it eased the ache to his backside. “I did wake to you spooning me and that’s not a complaint.”

“Good to know…” Sen, noting the movement, whispered, “If you’re not comfortable here, once we can stand… my bedroom suite is at the top of the stairs.”

“Here is fine. I can’t really stay all night even if I wanted to. Wouldn’t look right me leaving here in the morning. We don’t want to push things too far, do we? We get a few hours at most.” Senias had been the one to caution him that they were playing a dangerous game here. So what they had would have to stay as private as possible. A research meeting between Councilor and Tasker could be explained away easily enough lasting late into the night, but all night long?

“Better than nothing,” the draconic man whispered, his green-grey hazel eyes softened into an expression of acceptance.

Laying his head back down on Sen’s chest, Gabriel took a deep breath and confessed, “ I’ve never shared my bed with a lover. So.. not sure if I kick or snuggle or what either. I do know I don’t snore though.” The feel of the warm solid body beneath him was actually pretty soothing for some reason. Gabriel knew better though. It was a mistake to get attached. Lovers never lasted long and Senias had a history that said he didn’t like attachments.

“In some ways, it’s a wise decision, that.” the dragon could still feel the pain of loss – both from having lovers be killed, having them die, and in two cases – having to separate himself from them.

“You mean, not sharing my bed with a lover?”

“Yeah. That.” Senias followed that with something else, though.  “But there’s nothing in this world so mortalizing and precious as those few seconds of your life, when you are blessed with love and attachment. So, I’d say don’t wait until it’s too late to try such a thing on.”  His fingers moved absently over Gabriel’s skin as he realized he was prattling on like an idiot.  Clearing his throat and whispered, “Sorry. I’ve been reading too much Keats.”

“Keats was a romantic, careful there or I’ll start thinking you are too.” Gabriel was in that lull between awake and asleep which meant he probably wouldn’t make much sense. It also meant he trusted Sen enough to let his guard down. “I like Keats though.. There isn’t much from that era of authors that I don’t like, to be honest. Guess I’m a lush for the older things. Explains why I spend so much time in the Chamber.” Senias had spoken as if Gabriel was the family type of man when they both knew he was the exact opposite. He was a businessman. He lived and breathed it. Had his whole life it seemed.

“You’re the bearer of an old soul, Gabriel.” Senias moved his head to cuddle into the soft pillowed arm of the couch and Gabriel could feel the man’s muscles relax. His eyes closed. Doing so in another’s presence was not something common. Not even the succubus got that.  ~ I saw it in you long ago. ~ Sen spoke using his mental voice because he too was drifting on the bliss and afterglow.

~ Byron, Keats, Shelley, Eyre…. ~ there was a bit of a chuckle as he added, ~ the more fun romantic – Wilde… there is plenty in the library that was written in similar style. I’m sure. ~  

What should have felt like an intrusion was actually quite soothing as Gabriel listened to Senias’ voice in his head. He gave over to sleep before he could answer. It was the most relaxed he’d ever been with another and especially a lover. Such intimacy wasn’t necessary for sex, after all. He soon became a warm weighted blanket for the dragon and between them there was no kicking or struggling against one another.

Four hours later Gabriel woke still laying half on Sen. It amazed him that they’d been so comfortable as to not need to change positions. Looking at his watch he sighed as he eased up from the couch and Senias.

Sen groaned and couldn’t help going into a stretch when the movement woke his body. However, he didn’t go into his normal defensive stance or anything like that. The smells and the movement told him it was Gabriel and he was comfortable with that.

His whole body ached and certain parts of him were definitely protesting the movement. Gabriel begrudgingly slid his clothes back on. “I need to get home for a shower and change. I’m expected at the office in four hours and besides I don’t think you want Eva on your doorstep again.” Gabriel didn’t even try to close his ruined shirt as he just tugged it on and tucked it inside his slacks. It gaped at the top showing a good V portion of his chest. Leaning down he kissed Senias lightly on the lips.

With a wicked grin, Sen reached out to move fingers along that V to touch the perfect skin beneath. “If you must. I have this thing called keeping up appearances to do as well. But it only takes me a few minutes to get from here to there.” He turned onto his side to face his new lover.

“Call me later.. We’ll make plans for lunch.” They could at least enjoy a meal together without suspicion. Gabriel couldn’t resist one more kiss. Only this one he made a nice long, thorough one so that the dragon wouldn’t soon forget him.



The rising of the sun brought many things into light, one thing being Angela Garrett. Unlike full vampires she was able to move around in daylight without any problems or any dangers. The night before had found her treated for the aftermath of the injection, watched, and then she had been fed properly.

Now, she took full advantage of being able to day-walk. She sat beside her well secured window enjoying breakfast while waiting on the arrival of the Crimson Director. She’d been notified upon waking that he’d be joining her for the meal. Apparently, he wanted to discuss the doppelganger matter further. She knew it was more than that, and she would happily use it to her advantage.

There was a knock at the door, and the man Angela had been waiting on was there, looking at her. He was of average height and build for a human of thirty, but his face and hair seemed older. He had long hair that came to his shoulders when he let it go, steel grey and silver with some salt and pepper here and there. He had it pulled tight to the back of his head right now. His beard was properly trimmed and his pale eyes were fetching in the light of day.  

“I take it you’re up for seeing visitors?”

Looking up at her visitor, Angela waved him towards the chair across from her.

“By all means please join me. I believe we have a great deal to discuss. Wouldn’t you agree?” She took a bite of bacon as she smiled at him.

“I never agree to anything before I know what the terms are, Ms. Garrett,” Ezekiel Skinner smiled with some humor in his eyes, but he was tight…cautious.  Still, he needed to understand where he stood with her. Was she playing a game of cat and mouse, or was she really a liability that had a silver collar on?  He moved to sit in the chair across from her, his hands resting easily on each arm.

“Ahh yes the terms.” Lifting her cup from the saucer she took a sip and studied him a moment.  “What is this visit concerning?”

“I’m supposed to be taking your official statement beyond anything you’ve said in front of the Council. But as always, let me know when, and I can move to off-the-record mode.” His grin told her he was capable of humanity. A small amount, anyway.

“I gave all that I had to the Council in that Chamber.” Angela set her cup down. “I do want to discuss something else with you off the record if you don’t mind.”

Ezekiel leaned forward and put his elbows on his knees, a gesture that said she had his interest already.  Plus it brought him closer to her so their conversation would continue to be more private.

“It was a shame what happened to Solomon. Terrible accident.” The dhampir sighed softly, “Goes to show that anything is possible.” She wasn’t going to let on how much she knew of his involvement, but she’d let him know that that he wasn’t as unknown or concealed as he thought.

“Solomon was a solid informant. I never realized how deep he was in this until he came up on the files of those found on the other side. It really is too bad. He told me he spoke with you. He was worried what was happening,” Ezekiel sighed, feigning concern and guilt, “I should have listened to him. I should have protected him.”  

She gave a soft laugh, “Oh save the theatrics for one more gullible, Mr. Skinner or do you prefer first name basis?” Angela lifted her cup again for another sip before continuing on, “You see, Solomon and I spoke quite a few times in great depth and detail. He was so lonely there, and it is amazing all that one will speak of with the right soft words and gentle touches.”

His eyes told her he wasn’t amused.

“Your first time with a Patchwork?”

“No. But it’s been quite a while. His loss weighs heavy. They’re like puppies, you know? I suppose you scratched his belly just right?” He sat back into the deep chair again.  

“Just right indeed.” Taking a bite from her plate, Angela wiped her mouth and licked her lips, “As you say though, like puppies. The one thing that I have learned in my long life is that while you grow attached to good companions, they are always replaceable.” For a moment she thought of her own assistant Yvette. “The question is who will you replace him with?”

“Obviously someone who isn’t affected by charms and soothing words spoken by an enemy.”  His mind played at the edges of her thoughts. He smiled. “Are you going to be my enemy, Angela? End up like Solomon… even Christian? Or are you going to be my friend?”

The smile slipped for just a brief moment at the mention of her dead husband. Even after all these years Christian was a sore subject. Just as quickly though, the smile was back in place as she lifted her cup towards him.

“I make a much better friend – of that I can assure. Besides, I think that two people like us? We could be very good friends don’t you agree?” Angela turned on the charm as the words were almost a purr as they left her lips.

~ How much do you know? ~ he asked using his telepathic abilities.  He wasn’t guaranteed an answer, but he hoped he could at least estimate the damage. He needed to figure out how far he was willing to go in this himself.  

~Enough to guarantee your execution. In with the Tal’Secus and the side jobs for yourself. You are a busy man.~ She sipped her coffee and eased back in her chair.

~ And why wouldn’t I just get rid of you and call it a day? ~

Angela gave a slow smile as she crossed one leg over the other. She actually relaxed, confident in her knowledge and her plans.

~First,you won’t get rid of me because what I have on you? Well, several others have this secured intelligence in trusted holding with orders that if anything happens to me it will be released. Second, how do you think the families of those you’ve had murdered will take such information? They’ll be the first to find out. My information holders will meet with them first. Remember Lin Sun?  She was the most recent Crimson agent to disappear. What if the reason she disappeared was because she had something on you? ~

Ezekiel tried not to react, but he couldn’t help the twitch at his eye as he glared toward the dhampir.  Angela’s smile grew larger.  

~ Considering she has a family who love to hunt supernaturals, I’m sure they would take a great deal of pleasure in obtaining such information and making quick, efficient use of it. To your discomfort. ~

It was enough to prove she knew too much and obviously wasn’t the standard villain in this. She had planned ahead for him. For once, Ezekiel Skinner felt like one of the many creatures he used. He felt like he had a chain around his neck. He didn’t like it. But he didn’t have much of a choice.   

“I guess we’re friends, then.” He smiled at her, this time without a bit of humor in his eyes.



Samantha stretched and sighed. Her shift had been over when he’d shown up at the back door, covered in blood.  She’d told him he needed to stop doing that. He already had her attention, the dramatic wounded bit could stop. However, he had been anything but wounded in the earliest hours of the morning.

How long had it been since she’d felt the leather of a back car seat against her thighs? She… really didn’t care to think back on it. All she knew was that this time? This time it had been worth it.  Not once, but twice.  

Now, they were surrounded by eclipsing window covers; something you get used to when you work night shifts.  Not even a tiny lick of light filtered into her bedroom. Her arms reached up into the dark air above her for another feline-like stretch. She let her arm and hand gently reach across to the other side of her queen bed so she could be sure he hadn’t left her. Fingers moved to rub over a strong thigh and up to massage his ass.  What exactly had they been doing last that landed them on opposite ends of the bed?

Oh… right…Sam smiled widely and she hoped he was as impressed with her mouth as she was with his tongue.  

There was a low rumbly chuckle from him as he felt Samantha stir to life and her fingers trail across his skin. “Good to know that I didn’t completely wear you out.” Sebastian recalled every bit of the early morning that had led up to this very moment. He reached to draw her leg to him as he rolled to his side to face her. He rubbed his long strong fingers against the bottoms of her feet working his fingertips against the tense muscles.  

“Oh God… you do foot massages, too? I thought I was already in a fantastic corner of heaven, but you just keep upping the ante here, Bastian.” Sam closed her eyes and luxuriated in the kneading on her tired feet.  

“Mmmm I do a lot of things.” Sebastian rubbed and grinned at her.

“I would reciprocate, but I’d just hurt you. Believe me, this isn’t… mmmmm…” she felt like purring as he hit a really needy spot, “…me being lazy. It’s me being kind.”

His nails brushed along the arch of her foot and he wasn’t prepared for the reaction that came.

Suddenly she squealed and pulled her feet back up toward her body. She couldn’t help laughing at the bit of surprise she could make out on his face in the darkness of the room. Her eyes were starting to adjust at least.  

“Sorry!” she cracked up before criss-crossing her legs beneath her so she could sit up closer to his face in the bed. As she did so, her blonde hair fell over her shoulder and the covers fell off around her. Sam didn’t care. “You hit a ticklish spot. Guess I forgot to mention I’m ticklish.”  Her eyes found his, she blushed and wondered if he could tell in this light.

“Ahh, that’s what being ticklish means.” Sebastian pushed up on an elbow and watched the way she positioned herself and the way that the cover pooled at her waist. The fact that she wasn’t modest didn’t pass his attention as he reached out to stroke the back of his knuckles over the swell of her breasts.

“Yes, that’s what it means,” she whispered while biting her bottom lip. She loved the way he touched her. She’d never had a man do that before and it excited her.

Drawing her to him, he laid back pulling Samantha atop him.

Well, he could definitely see her. That question was answered! She was moving around and for a moment she worried that she might be too heavy for him and then, there she was, her back partially on his chest and his hands doing an amazing job of becoming her new brassiere.  

“Will you be expected at the clinic this evening?” His hands cupped the pert round globes and he rolled the nipples between his fingers while watching her reactions. “If not there are several hours before the sun goes down and we can do a lot in several hours.”

“I’ve been working too hard. All my co-workers say it. I’m sure they won’t mind picking up my shift tonight,” she replied breathlessly. Oh he just knew how to touch her. But she knew things, too. Her right hand reached down beneath his arm and soon she found his hardening cock. “If you don’t mind keeping me happy.”  She stroked him a couple of times, slowly; fingers playing over his foreskin. “Because I don’t mind keeping you happy.”  

Sebastian inhaled as she stroked him. He rubbed against her and lavished in the scent of her.

 “Oh I can keep you very, very happy, sunshine.” He grazed his fangs along the curve of Samantha’s neck and couldn’t believe how fantastic she felt…



The one thing that was more entertaining that pissing off her lovers was seeing her own sibling pissed off. Seated at the bar with a bottle of Jack and a tumbler, Mira sipped from the glass and watched as Dante passed rather angrily back and forth before her. Their staff weren’t due for at least another two hours and she’d told Derek it would be at least that long before she could get free enough to have lunch with him. She’d taken a liking to the lycan’s presence. She wondered if he’d make her interest worth the pissiness she’d get from her brother.

“I don’t like it Mira. I don’t care for that damned cult sniffing around our affairs. We get that shifter into place and then everything goes to hell. They know we helped out in the investigation. How long will it be before that bites us in our asses?  I’ve been dealing with and running behind Skinner’s back and front and even between his fucking legs for years, now. I can deal with that asshole. Now, instead of dealing with just Skinner, we have to deal with the Tal’Secus.” Dante raked his fingers  through his hair. “I really, really don’t like this.”

“You worry too much, brother. I have this under control, if need be I’ll call in favors.” She smiled for him, but it wasn’t working this time. He continued to pace as he thought.  She finished her glass and poured a half glass more before getting a highball out putting some ice chunks in it and pouring it full. She slid it to the other side of the bar, toward her twin.  

“What? How is that going to help?” Dante rumbled softly as he glared at his sister like she’d gone mad.

“Through all of this doppelganger craziness, I have new contacts. More importantly, I have old contacts that revealed themselves to be much more powerful than I had originally known.” She smiled seductively as he sat down across from her to take the drink and the hook. “See, when one door gets blocked and the windows are painted shut, there’s always the chimney.” She winked before taking another drink. “And the fire. We’re good at fighting fire with fire. We’ll be fine.”  

“Stop trying to talk in riddles. You sound like a damned dragon. Just tell me what you think you have in your pocket, Mira.” Dante finished off his drink.

“Well, speaking of…” she shrugged. “I happen to have a dragon.”

“In your pocket?” he chuckled, his right brow arching.

“Yes and no,” her ruby eyes sparkled for him mischievously. Then she turned around from the bar to go do the rest of her opening chores.  “After all, they’re a bit big for a pocket, don’t you think?”

Dante stared at his sister as she sashayed away from him. What the hell had she gotten herself tangled up with? Who was it that she felt she had such a hold over?

“How the fuck did you get your claws on a dragon, sister, dear?”


Until next time…. 

~  Rachel Diane Adams and Dawn McClellan © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2017