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by Val Kovalin
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Dark Fantasy
Description: A war rages throughout the Southwest between angels and demons. Demons Parnell and Navarro are sent to the no-man's land of New Mexico to capture a renegade angel-demon hybrid named Chavez, and the three of them enter a triangle of powerful but uneasy sexual attraction.
Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Male/male sexual practices, menage (m/m/m), violence.
eBook Publisher: Loose Id, LLC, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: November 2010
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [214 KB]
Reading time: 129-181 min.
They lay in the dirt where they had fallen, hidden from the road by the Porsche. Navarro had landed closer to the car, and Parnell lurched to his feet and tried to join him, but sky and earth flipped, changing places. He sprawled to one side, and the ground went on tipping as he dug his fingers into the sand, clawing for a handhold. He thought he might vomit from dizziness before it receded, leaving him too weak to stand.
"You okay?" Navarro called.
No, not even remotely okay. Terror washed through Parnell in thick, icy waves as he struggled to raise his head, which seemed to weigh about fifty pounds. He had felt great before crossing, but now the unexpected had happened. Navarro's uncontrolled terror had flattened his defenses, and then the barrier had ripped him apart. Parnell tried not to cringe, panting in fear as he sensed the wrongness in the deep fatigue that held him down.
In more than sixty years, he had never been sick. He had never experienced anything worse than the shock of combat wounds. Scattered impressions careened through his head as he replayed the crossing, trying to think straight. He felt half-dead, stupefied with exhaustion.
Navarro had done this to him. Parnell felt gutted to the core by the betrayal, but a deeper instinct made him rethink his reaction. His personality made him take so many impulsive risks that he'd gained experience with feeling helpless. He knew how to surrender and let events carry him while waiting for the right opportunity to act. But someone like Navarro, who prized staying in control, wouldn't be able to transcend his terror as the barrier overwhelmed him. Navarro would rather die than look like a coward, especially in front of Parnell. He must have reacted on instinct, rejecting his fear with such speed and force that it turned into a psychic weapon, blazing through the simple link where their hands made contact and detonating inside Parnell's body.
Navarro ran to him, shoes grinding over the loose sand, and dragged Parnell to his feet. Parnell would have fallen without Navarro's arm around his waist as his vision grayed out, and he felt a pathetic surge of gratitude for the closeness. They shambled to the Porsche, and he tried to resist the thick tide of unconsciousness that waited to smother him as Navarro guided him into the passenger seat and then got behind the wheel. The night breeze lifted, spitting sand against the windshield.
"Drink." Navarro handed him a bottle of water. Their gazes met, and the deep concern in Navarro's eyes started to shake Parnell's ragged composure. He glanced away, trying to ignore Navarro's hand on his arm.
"Why did you want to hold hands?" His voice sounded raw and accusing.
"Was that too gay for you?" Navarro's eyes narrowed.
"You're not the clingy type. You must've had a reason."
"I-I just wanted..." Navarro stumbled over his words, something Parnell had almost never seen him do before. "I wanted to protect you. Keep some control over the situation." Even without the Collective, Parnell knew he spoke the truth. Not even Navarro could fake getting so flustered. "Is that a problem?"
"No." Feeling guilty, he tried to gentle his tone. "Forget it."
"What happened to you?" Navarro asked.
"Nothing," he said on instinct. To be a demon meant to hide weakness. "What about you?"
"I'm okay," Navarro blurted. "But you--"
Parnell forced down his resentment. If Navarro had managed to control his fear instead of inflicting it upon him, then they both would be okay. "It's nothing. Really. Got the breath knocked out of me."
Navarro lapsed into what seemed to be a worried silence, and it felt eerie not to be able to access the Collective and know for sure. At least Navarro couldn't tell that he lied about the true extent of his damage. Parnell struggled to keep fatigue from dragging his eyelids shut. He fumbled with the cap on the bottle and swallowed the warmish water as black lights popped in his peripheral vision, and he started to feel stronger.
"Drive," he said. "Before Yazzie finds more enslavers to come after us."
Navarro steered back on I-40. "Let's stop in Gallup. Not long. Just to clean up."
"And have a quick fuck?" Parnell asked.
"If that's what you need." Navarro kept his voice neutral.
The remark hit too close to home. "What about you?"
"I could be talked into it."
Maybe he could prop up his energy level with sex magic. Not that two orgasms generated much psychic energy, but he would take what he could get. As the flat desert whipped past in the headlights, fear scrabbled in the back of Parnell's mind, and he tried to distract himself with trivial thoughts. Tomorrow was April 22, Oppenheimer's birthday, and it was never much fun to celebrate San Roberto Day apart from the Cadre. The day after that would be Easter Sunday, which meant he'd picked a bad weekend to lose his strength--Oh fuck. He was starting to obsess about the barrier damaging him, which would only lead to panic.
He shook his head, and Navarro asked, "What?"
"At least we're still alive. Blessed be San Roberto."
"Peace be upon him," Navarro said.
Struggling with his anxiety, Parnell tried to focus on Oppenheimer's snapshot suspended from the mirror. The humans had Che Guevara on T-shirts, wristwatches, mouse pads, and other stuff, and the demons had Oppenheimer, even though he had never known about them. How would Oppenheimer have reacted to his face appearing on all that merchandise, or Che, for that matter, spinning in his communist grave? Parnell stifled a laugh. At least it kept him from thinking about--
"I'm taking over this assignment," he blurted. "You just don't know how or when."
"We could be partners." Navarro gave him a sidelong glance that mingled impatience and amusement with a trace of worry still lingering underneath. "You don't have to settle for being my..." He trailed off, as if considering his options.
Navarro snorted. "You flatter yourself."
"Accomplice? Fuck buddy?"
"You are good in the sack. That's worth a lot."
"How sweet. You put a price tag on it?"
Navarro laughed, and so did Parnell as his tension loosened and slipped away. He and Navarro had always found the same things funny, even back before they knew each other and nothing existed between them except an overwhelming physical attraction. He sipped more water, feeling stronger, and lust began to coil through him as he imagined Navarro's hands on his naked body, pinning him down. Maybe the barrier hadn't wrecked him so completely that he couldn't repair the damage with sex magic.
"You work with me or you work for me," Navarro said. "You're not taking charge."
It amused Parnell to imagine doing so. On this particular assignment, the higher-ups required him and Navarro to rescue a renegade named Chavez, who had escaped Los Elegidos. Chavez claimed to be an angel-demon hybrid bred by his master, Hidalgo, who sought to raise an army against the Cadre.
Parnell wanted to meet Chavez. He already admired how Chavez had the balls to escape Juarez, enter the forbidden zone of New Mexico, and travel most of the way to the Cadre on his own. Besides, Chavez had insider information on Hidalgo, who happened to be the keeper of Juarez. Keepers of cities, whether angels or demons, fascinated Parnell with their extreme power and corresponding vulnerability. Sometimes he fantasized about being one.
"You listening, amigo?" Navarro asked. "This assignment is mine. I've already stolen it from Mr. Sanchez."
Parnell's stomach gave a queasy roll. Of course the keeper of El Paso would want control over any assignment involving Juarez, which bordered his own city. Parnell hated Mr. Sanchez, who tended to fixate upon less powerful demons he wished to acquire for his sadistic games. Whenever Parnell had to interact with him, Mr. Sanchez managed to communicate through glance and tone that he wanted to strip away Parnell's power and make him crawl--something that Parnell had never told Navarro.
He swallowed. "You must have called in every favor you had coming."
Navarro's teeth flashed in a cold knife-blade smile. "I enjoy obstructing Mr. Sanchez."
Parnell stared at him. "Why? He's never opposed you."
"He barely knows I exist." Navarro shrugged. "Consider it a grudge I hold from afar."
Parnell fell silent. Navarro had never before revealed any feelings toward Mr. Sanchez. Now he seemed to be offering an alliance, but Parnell shared his problems with no one, not even Navarro. For an instant, he let himself fantasize. Maybe their current assignment to acquire Chavez would draw them close to Mr. Sanchez's ongoing surveillance of Hidalgo. If Parnell saw an opportunity to destroy Mr. Sanchez and get away with it, he wouldn't hesitate to take it.
Lights glowed ahead in the darkness, and he checked his watch. At 0200 hours, they reached Gallup, a sprawl of houses and ugly strip malls under grainy streetlights, which looked as if they had washed out of the main timeline back in the mid-1960s. Navarro found a motel off the highway, parked, and strode off to get a room, his car keys rolled up in his fist.
Parnell tilted his head against the seat and closed his eyes. Okay, sex magic. It wouldn't be easy, not with the barrier blocking the Collective, but he could do it. At least he thought he could. He groped for a scientific metaphor with which to cut the task down to size. Like every living thing, he formed a closed circuit with the Collective, drawing and feeding back psychic energy in an endless loop. Fucking raised energy, and an orgasm spilled that energy out of the loop where he could use it.
He felt a flash of shame. To him, the pleasure of fucking was its own reward, and he never needed the psychic energy it generated as a by-product. Now he felt like a junkie lining up a shot of artificial strength to cover real weakness. But what choice did he have? He'd take everything he could get and hope Navarro didn't notice.
Navarro returned and moved the car closer to room 6 as moonlight sifted over the flat-roofed stucco motel, which looked about to melt into the darkness. Someone had smashed or shot out the nearest streetlight. In the headlights, the door looked sun bleached, its blue faded to silver, and its brass number 6 wobbled on a loose screw. Parnell caught Navarro scanning him with a worried expression.
To distract him, Parnell nodded at the blood and dust smeared on Navarro's face. "You went in looking like that, and they didn't call the cops?"
"I think they needed the cash. C'mon. Let's hit the shower."
Parnell stepped into the stale air that smothered the motel room, eyed the two double beds in the gloom, and felt a welcome surge of lust. Navarro brought in his garment bag and overnight case and shut the door, and Parnell switched on the bedside light, which gleamed on a cheap print attached to the wall. In Nevada, it might have shown cowboys playing cards in a saloon, but here, it depicted three black San Ildefonso bowls.
Navarro tossed his luggage on the bed nearest the bathroom as Parnell stripped down to his shorts. Parnell already had a hard-on, and its slick tip pressed against the cotton fabric, leaving a damp patch. He covered it with his hand, flushing as he realized how he must look to Navarro, who hadn't even loosened his tie yet--too eager and easy to manipulate.
Meanwhile Navarro draped his folded suit jacket across the table. His tie followed, and so did his cuff links, which clicked against the glass tabletop as the loose cuffs of his shirt fell away from his wrists. Shivering with need, Parnell watched the shirt slide off the broad planes of Navarro's back. Navarro dropped his trousers, revealing a silky black thong.
Parnell stared, then snorted. "Fancy!"
"I try." Navarro gave a hungry smile as he scanned Parnell's expression.
How typical of Navarro, who enjoyed provoking Parnell's laughter almost more than his lust. Parnell watched in delight as Navarro worked the black fabric off his thick erection and slid the scrap of cloth down past his ankles. As soon as Navarro stood naked, Parnell stepped into his arms, and they clung to each other. Parnell's eyes slid shut in helpless pleasure as Navarro pressed one palm to the small of his back and stroked the other up the length of his spine.
Navarro's trembling matched his. Whenever they first stripped down for each other, something desperate took over, and their bodies pressed close as if starving for contact. Parnell kissed Navarro's throat, sucking the pulse point as their breathing evened out and their urgency shifted into pleasure. Navarro stretched the waistband of Parnell's shorts and let it snap back.
The elastic caught Parnell just under the curve of his buttocks, making him flinch and snort with laughter. Navarro's hot hands closed over his bare ass and squeezed hard, and Parnell groaned, thrusting against Navarro in blind need. Navarro's hands closed to fists, and he ripped the cotton shorts off Parnell's body, which excited Parnell more than he wanted to admit.
"Oooh, macho!" He sucked Navarro's earlobe. "So forceful!"
Navarro laughed. "You like that?"
"Can't you tell?"