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by Jan Irving
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Gay Fiction
Description: It sounded like something from one of the graphic novels Jaime Anderson aspires to create, but Arden Kaller is real. Once the lover of Jaime's older brother, his blood coats Jaime's lips the first night he hits town when he heals him after Jaime is involved in an altercation in a brick-lined alley. Arden has spent long years studying his amphora, his pot shards. How can a small town boy exert such a hold on him? But it isn't long before he tricks Jaime into wearing his mystical token. Jaime's life is complicated enough just handling classes. Now his guitar-playing friend Mondo turns out to be a werewolf who wants Jaime to be his-and then there is Arden, his dark, dangerous, and slightly nerdy vampire lover.
eBook Publisher: MLR Press, LLC/MLR Press, LLC,
eBookwise Release Date: June 2011
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [291 KB]
Reading time: 172-241 min.
Arden Kaller leaned against a brick wall, his favorite battered leather trench coat tight around his slim waist, long black hair swept back from his face, eyes closed...fighting tears...and waiting for nightfall, for someone stupid enough to walk into the shadows that hid a demon.
Arden, keep him safe for me.
His eyes burned and he snorted out a laugh. Pathetic. Some dark, dangerous villain he was, stuck in this one-coffee-and-donut-shop town. He wanted to hurt someone; he wanted to give into his true nature.
Instead he'd followed a teasing scent trail.
He opened his eyes and stared through the glasses that disguised his enlarged hunter's pupils, watching as the human he'd tracked approached. He watched a group of college boys engaged in a standoff, their fresh-faced innocence stimulating his need so he wondered which one he'd taste. He wouldn't kill anyone-- it was too messy and he was a fastidious man.
One immediately caught his eye: a slender and familiar-looking young man with a scarecrow-awkward build. It seemed like his arms and legs had been attached by different bits of straw rather than his torso. His hair was the color of smooth milk chocolate and hard, snapping almond-shaped eyes glared out at the world. Despite his slight size, he was mouthing off to a taller, muscled youth with red hair.
"Still tilting at windmills, little one?" Arden growled. The name had suited Jaime when he was sixteen and following Arden and Derek everywhere. Now it struck Arden as having a sexual resonance.
He took off his glasses and rubbed his forearm against his eyes, taking away the embarrassing residue of tears. Another deep breath and he was himself again. He was back in town. He had kept his promise another year. He would not give into his desire. He would not claim Jaime. But...he'd missed him.
"You little shit, Anderson, you were sketching my dick again, weren't you?"
Jaime lifted a crumpled sketch pad from the muddy sidewalk, cocking a dark brow in contempt. "I wouldn't need to devote a whole page for your dick, Larry."
One of the redhead's pals stifled laughter. Larry was too stupid to see what he'd roused, but Arden was riveted. He took in the bruise forming on Jaime's cheek, the passion in his tilted dark eyes.
I want to taste him.
Sex dazed, Arden watched as his spirited Jaime tackled Larry. They rolled...and wound up in Arden's alley.
Arden's eyes narrowed.
How unfortunate. For someone.
He stepped forward, teeth lengthening, his gaze fixing on Jaime, who had cracked his head against the brick wall. Jaime shook his head, looking slightly out of it. Arden wanted to say something smooth, like "Hello, kid. You miss me?"
Instead, somewhere lodged in his throat the word "please" was stuck.
Please forgive me. Please let me touch you.
The group of young men had followed to continue harassing the outcast but they stepped back uneasily at Arden's flat, animal stare as he removed his glasses. Suddenly, the alley was deserted, save for Arden, Larry, and Jaime.
Larry was staring at Arden. "What do you want, Mister?"
Mister? How depressing. Did he appear like a "mister" to Jaime also? He was only thirty...and some three hundred years and change on top of that. Arden could see the bully wasn't oblivious to the vibe of a real predator. Arden reached out easily, still smiling, yanked Larry close and bit his neck.
"You... God!" Larry choked, rubbing himself against Arden.
Blood. The smell, the taste.
Jaime sat up, arms wrapped around his ribs. "Wha--?" His face darkened as he made out Arden. Pain lived in the almond-shaped eyes. "You."
Arden let Larry drop. He wanted to tangle his fist in Jaime's hair, rub his cheek against that silken texture then take his time in introducing him to a kiss. His tongue would taste that untouched mouth, before inevitably his lips burned a path down to the pulse beating frantically in Jaime's neck.
Instead, he knelt beside him, reaching out and touching Jaime's arm with his rough archeologist's hands. "You're hurt," he said gruffly.
"Why do you always come back?" Jaime swallowed. He covered his eyes for a moment and Arden knew he was fighting tears.
It hurt when they were together again. It hurt when they were apart.
"I'm your friend." Arden firmly ran his hands gently over Jaime's sides, pressed, and felt where there was some give. Jaime paled and looked like he was going to pass out, his angry eyes full of unshed tears.
His hands dropped at the sudden vision that flashed when he touched Jaime. He saw himself, sweaty, as he rode his boy slowly. Jaime's hands were sliding over the damp hollow of his spine, just above his ass, and he was smiling as he did it.
His nostrils flared, and he was unable to stop himself from breathing in warm, vulnerable Jaime.
Jaime seemed oblivious, as if no one had ever wanted to lay that scarecrow body out and taste every part of it. He shook his head, as if still groggy. "Uh, what happened to Larry?"
Arden looked over at the heap of flesh, partially hidden by trash cans. He could make out a faint heartbeat; Larry was sleeping off the bite. "He took off," he lied. "You need to get those ribs seen to."
"I can't. Kind of between jobs," Jaime explained, flushing under Arden's quizzical gaze.
"Well, I can heal you."
"Arden..." Jaime tried to pull away. "I'm twenty years old. I don't need your help anymore."
Arden's jaw tightened. What could he say after what he'd let happen two years ago? "Let me help you." Arden shifted closer, so that he was inside the envelope of Jaime's primal body warmth.
"I don't know." But Jaime didn't leave. He waited, watched, his dark eyes curious.
Arden remembered that Jaime's older brother, Derek, had also possessed that curiosity. It was the first thing that had attracted him.
He picked up a sharp-edged rock from the alley floor and used it to open one wrist. Blood dripped on asphalt, potent and sizzling as it made contact.
He reached out with his dripping hand, cupping Jaime's face, smearing blood on it, as if marking his human. He actually felt a little dizzy--ouch!--it hurt to cut open your wrist with a rock even if you were a badass vampire.
Better to stick to the script. "Taste me." Uh, not that script. Arden took a deep breath. "I want you to."
Jaime shook his head, but Arden crowded him close to the wall and put his bleeding wound to Jaime's lips. Had he ever even been kissed?
Almond-shaped eyes weighed him and Arden knew Jaime had been. He wanted to kill whoever had done it.
Jaime's lips parted, coated with Arden's ancient blood. He tentatively licked his wrist and Arden shuddered at the sensation.
"More. Take more." Arden stroked Jaime's hair as his boy sucked him.
He could smell the sudden heat in Jaime as he reacted to the taste of a vampire. Arden wasn't surprised when he glanced down and saw the long swollen imprint pressing against the young man's jeans. He had to look away. It was just his blood. It wasn't really him Jaime was responding to.
When he thought Jaime had tasted enough to heal, Arden reluctantly pulled his wrist away. He had a bizarre desire to invite Jaime out for a night cap of a coffee and donut now, post-blood sharing. His lips twitched. He had to be punchy from the blood loss. He was the last person Jaime would ever want to go out with.
"Go home now. Rest," he ordered instead.
Jaime gave him a dazed look. He smelled of erotic awakening.
He watched as, holding his ribs, Jaime staggered from the alley.
Once he was gone, Arden took a deep breath. Closed his eyes. This was why he always had to leave. There was no reasoning with his demon, not that much remained of the boy he'd been so long ago.
His demon wanted Jaime as his chosen human.
For years he'd been haunted by visions of him, laughing and giving him hell and...kissing him. Even when his brother was alive and had been Arden's lover, Arden had wanted Jaime.
He shook his head. Two things stood in the way of that ever happening: one, he was a monster, and two: Arden couldn't begin to remember how to woo an innocent. If Jaime still was one, that was.
* * * *
Alone in his dilapidated house, Arden tossed his peridot and amethyst charm onto his desk. Sunlight came through the windows, making the stones sparkle. Thanks to an expensive spell, sunshine only warmed Arden instead of burning him. It was useful, having been around so long. He knew how to live comfortably.
He ran a hand through his long hair, freeing it from a ribbon so it fell softly around his face as he considered the talisman he'd picked up at the local magic shop. Calling it a 'love charm' wasn't quite accurate. It was a charm to imprint desires on someone; basically to make them do what he wanted.
Arden had no intention of using it to seduce Jaime--how hokey was that? However, the charm might be useful to make him a little more cautious. No more mouthing off to jocks. Who knew how many times his boy had done that in the year Arden had been gone?
Arden shook his head, but despite his awareness that he was falling into a cliche -- the dark, dangerous vampire drawn to the innocent human -- he couldn't help but mull over what images he would like to transmit to Jaime if he gave into his natural villain self. He closed his eyes and hot possibilities sparked through his mind.
A simple kiss.
He caught his breath, stirred, nipples hardening under his silk shirt.
He frowned, shaking off the bizarre idea. What did a kiss have to offer someone like him, hundreds of years old? He didn't bother to kiss anyone anymore. It was a meaningless human thing.
He closed his eyes again, concentrating. Okay, door number two...
He wanted Jaime under his control, sucking his cock on command, pleasing him, lovin--
Arden turned his back on the charm, staring out at the garden he preferred to let go wild so it was a tangle of jasmine and oleander, flowers that scented his nights. The house was a knock off on Mayan ruins, built by an eccentric archeologist in the Thirties. It was high on a rocky rise that looked over a gorge, bridged by an arching span of rock, some of it dangerously unstable. Arden liked the figured concrete, sometimes seeing faces, images from his past in the undulating patterns. That it was a little damp and the heating didn't work all the time didn't matter to a vampire.
Except for Jaime, his life was orderly; Zen. He hunted, fed, then returned home to his books and his neatly organized bones and cracked clay vessels from various digs he visited worldwide. He had lived this way year after year since his sire, Sean, had found him, an un-awakened stable boy, and taken a fancy to him.
Given the difference in their experiences, he wondered again why a thoroughly unremarkable small town boy like Jaime touched him. Perhaps it was because Jaime still cared enough to fight for the things he believed in. Arden didn't.
He was tempted for a moment to chuck the charm, except for his promise. He'd promised Derek he would keep tabs on his younger brother. To keep him safe, as he'd failed to keep Derek safe.
Arden paced, abruptly restless. When would the sun go down? There was a lot he didn't know about Jaime now. Did the scamp have a boyfriend?
Shit. Perhaps he should get a charm to protect himself from Jaime.
Giving into the inevitable, he decided to continue working the spell. He picked the charm up and concentrated on bending Jaime's will to his own. The object was activated by passion, so he'd make use of his inconvenient obsession to keep his boy safe.
He ran the crystal over the hard outline of his cock, but the sensation didn't satisfy him, so he impatiently opened his black linen pants and freed himself.
A little fantasy just for Jaime.
Warmed stone caressed his shaft. A stone he envisioned Jaime wearing for him. His hand clenched on the desk chair, the wood creaking under his grip as his breathing picked up--
His seed spilled over his hand, over the crystals, sealing the hot images in a swirling cameo. Images of Jaime kissing Arden, hands locked around his neck.
Now if he could get Jaime to wear it for him, they'd be connected. He'd know when Jaime was aroused...or in trouble.
He huffed out a laugh; a little shaken he'd been so moved. Using the charm was merely supposed to be a means to an end. He wasn't truly claiming Jaime.
Maybe he should leave town now he'd seen that his boy was safe for another year? Visit Turkey and one of his favorite archeological digs, Aphrodisias. He could stand under the marble of the Tetrapylon in the moonlight and dream about what it must have been like to live there two thousand years ago.
Hmmm. Except this year was the demon gathering and human slave auction and his sire had asked for his presence. He knew Sean wanted to believe in Arden's fealty, but the truth was that Arden was indifferent to vampire politics. He went along with vampire games so he could be left alone to enjoy his digs, date his dusty bones and clay containers.
Shoving aside thoughts of Sean, Arden finished the ritual. He cut open his wrist with his teeth, letting his blood spatter on the charm. Magic bloomed and then crackled so that the dark hair on Arden's forearms stood straight. He closed a possessive fist over his offering. He would keep Jaime safe, and would use Jaime's soft heart to trick him.
* * * *
"I have something for you," a familiar voice purred.
"Huh?" Two coffees balanced in a cardboard tray, Jaime peered into the shadows of an alley in town. Not the alley, of course, since he did not want to see Arden again. Did not want to remember Arden holding him, comforting him the night of Derek's death.
"Hello." Arden stepped into view. His dark hair was swept back from a high forehead and tied in a neat black ribbon and he was wearing charcoal pants and a teal sweater over his whipcord slim body. The only thing slightly nerdy were the familiar glasses, which Arden pushed higher on the bridge of his nose, and the Band-Aid wrapped around his index finger. Had he cut himself on one of his amphora jugs while trying to reconstruct the splinters?
Jaime's throat tightened when he remembered how often he'd worked with Arden, sketching shapes to help with his reconstruction work. He'd always had more patience for it than Derek, who had only tolerated Arden's passion for the past.
But things had changed since then. Derek was gone and Jaime didn't feel comfortable around Arden anymore. Now his heart sped up and his palms got damp, and all his instincts screamed at him to run as he held Arden's dark gaze, so black that it was hard to see the difference between the pupils and irises.
He wants something from me.
"You look healthy." Arden studied him so thoroughly that Jaime flushed. "No side effects from last night."
"Yeah, I guess my ribs weren't really cracked or whatever 'cause I woke up feeling no pain," Jaime said. "Good thing since I was up half the night sketching a new idea for my graphic novel."
"Measured pain can be pleasurable."
Jaime swallowed, feeling an unsettling flash of heat, like taking a blast from a blow dryer. Whoa. "Uh huh. Not that I'm not grateful or anything, but the whole mystery man thing is wearing thin, Arden."
"Is it?" The larger man's hand snapped around Jaime's wrist, tugging him easily into the alley.
"Let go, you--" Dark, gorgeous thing popped into Jaime's mind and his eyes widened. Maybe it was the chocolate bagels he'd scarfed down for breakfast. They made him hyper. "You totally made me spill my coffee."
Arden looked at the two cups and raised a brow. "Who is the coffee for?" he asked mildly.
"Why do you want to know?"
"I like your defiance, Jaime, but answer the question." Arden lifted Jaime's wrist and kissed the inside of it.
"Fine, but I don't like the whole grabbing me thing. You helped me, so thanks, but I want you to stay away." Jaime remembered how he'd spent so much of his time illustrating this man, thinking about his body. He'd told himself it was purely his artistic muse, but seeing Arden made him want to touch and he wasn't sure he was ready for that. Besides, Arden was Derek's.
"Is that what you really want?" Arden asked. He had been playing with the ribbon holding his hair so some of it had come loose. It was long enough that if he were bare-chested, it would reach his nipples.
Jaime found himself remembering from one of his classes that it was supposed to be a sexual tell--people smoothing or playing with their hair because they wanted to appear attractive to someone.
He let out a soft sigh. Arden didn't need to do that.
As if he could somehow read Jaime's thoughts, Arden shifted closer, crowding Jaime against the brick wall, placing two large palms on either side of his head to bracket him. He kept his taller and larger frame from touching Jaime's slighter form, but Jaime shifted uncomfortably, wondering if the older man was aware of his embarrassing arousal.
"I don't want to hurt you," Arden reassured. "I have something for you, to protect you."
"Protection? Thanks, but I've got it covered."
Arden held out a necklace on one palm, a brown leather cord with a pendant of undulating lines held in place by purple beads. As Jaime stared, he thought there might be a cameo etched in the piece. Two men, on the verge of a kiss.
"Uh. That's kind of--"
"Gay?" Arden raised a brow.
Jaime flushed. "I'm doing fine without you."
"That's not an option."
"Okay, you have an attitude problem," Jaime growled.
"Yes," Arden agreed, and then his tone changed, touched Jaime like a stroking hand. "Jaime...please. Let me see it against your skin."
Jaime leaned his head against the brick, sighing, "Why would I wear it?"
"Elizabeth, maybe?" Arden suggested mildly.
"What the fuck does that mean?" Jaime tossed aside the coffee and now crowded Arden, glaring.
Arden cocked a brow. "I saw her name written on one of your coffee cups."
"She's my friend!"
Arden chewed his lip, considering. The uncertainty on his face made Jaime relax slightly. After all, Arden had taken care of Jaime for a long time. He couldn't be as dangerous as he sometimes seemed. "If you wear it for me, it will keep her safe."
Jaime widened his eyes. "Safe from what?"
Arden's jaw tightened. "From what happened to Derek."
Jaime closed his eyes, remembering that after the tears he'd cried the night Derek died, he'd brushed his lips against Arden's.
And Arden had kissed him back.
"I should get home."
"Fine." Jaime wanted to roll his eyes. Okay, so he'd indulge his old friend and then dump the thing as soon as he got home. "I still think its kinda disco. Not my thing."
Arden circled Jaime and Jaime felt cool fingertips graze the skin of his neck. The clasp of the pendant made an oddly final sound as Arden snapped it closed.
"You're so fucking responsive," Arden said calmly. Then he whispered, "I haven't forgotten that night either."
Jaime opened his eyes, helplessly caught in Arden's snare.
"Thank you for wearing it for me," Arden said sincerely.