Bonedust – M/M Paranormal Romance – $2.99
Unable to stake his cruel vampire master himself due to the bonedust inked into his skin, Gabriel Sharpe flees the Boneyard with one thing on his mind: find vampire hunter Dante. If he doesn’t kill Jeremie now, the vampire will find and Change him and Gabriel would rather die than be a slave for the rest of his immortal life.
Snake-shifter Urban Winters lives life by the experience; a part-time bounty hunter to pay child support, his true calling is exotic dancing. The minute he sees the scarred and beautiful Gabriel walk through the doors of his club, he wants him—and when Gabriel offers him a job as his bodyguard, Urban jumps on it for a reason to spend time with the runaway slave. They fall into a searing relationship that leaves Urban breathless…and terrified of what the future may hold. Urban wants to be lovers; Gabriel wants a relationship.
Dante’s a part of Urban’s past that he’d rather not dredge up, but when Gabriel is stolen away from him, he’s the only man Urban trusts to take out the vampire, once and for all.
“The more distance you put between you and Jeremie, the less power he’ll have over you.”
Caine’s voice was deadly quiet, his eyes trained on the empty doorway. With a large archway, it opened into a long hall with oaken doors on either side, the flooring a rich ruby fabric twined with glimmers of silver. The only way out of this Goddess-forsaken place was down that hall.
Gabriel Sharpe slowly snaked a gaze over, his skin twitching with the magick of the vampire blood swelling low in his stomach. For all he knew, it could be booby-trapped, a purely elaborate set-up to get rid of him once and for all. The Bonemaster, Jeremie, was lazy, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t have ordered another slave—even Caine—to set something up. This could all be one giant trap.
He wiped his mouth with the back of his arm, a smear of crimson on his pale, scar-etched skin, and shuddered. He’d die before he let that fanged bastard Change him. His lips twisted up in a sneer. He would gladly welcome death.
“This isn’t going to work…”
Caine cut him a glare, his green eyes flashing with annoyance and anger. “Do you truly want to be like us? This is the future, Gabriel,” he murmured, spreading his arms wide, stepping towards him. “You have no other choice. Jeremie will be back and when he comes, he’ll take your life as easily as taking candy from a baby. Can you imagine eternity as his unwilling lover?”
Gabriel didn’t move, didn’t back up, even as his instincts screamed to get far away from here. He kept his breathing even as he met Caine’s gaze. “No.” That one word rumbled with years of pent up, raw emotion. His fists clenched at his sides.
“Then find Dante Saunders. He is, perhaps, the one man who can help us. The clock’s ticking, princess—you’d better hightail it outta here before J figures out my distraction was just that. Don’t overanalyze this, just go.”
Gabriel gave a sharp nod and headed for the door on rubbery legs. His heart galloped in his chest like a half-broke kelpie fighting its iron bit and he took shallow breaths through his nose, surprised at the flood of scents insulting his nostrils. He blamed the vampire blood. Goddess. He could still feel the graze of razor fangs across his throat, Jeremie’s lips fluttering against his skin. He shivered again. So close.
Caine made a ragged sound. “Go!”
Gabriel didn’t need the push—his bare feet were already pounding across the carpeted stone, making barely a sound. In his mind’s eye, he imagined spider silk wire tied to the doorknob, rigged to keep him in—or else. He swung the door open and flinched, but no gun went off, firing a shot into his skull to spray the wall with blood and bone. It couldn’t be this easy. It just couldn’t be. Heart jumping, he half-ran, half-stumbled down the marble staircase and past a very surprised maid, her feet hobbled with crystallite shackles. She called something out, but the buzz of blood and magick in his head made it impossible to understand her. His hand slammed against the doorknob and praying to every Goddess out there that this was it—that he was free for once in seventeen years—he swung the door open.
He wasn’t sure what he was expecting. A nest of vamps waiting like cobras around the door? Jeremie to catch his arm so nonchalant like he always did and tut at him before taking him upstairs for a punishment that involved hot knives and salt? Not the open graveyard that stood before him, hauntingly empty in the barest of morning hours.
The grass was a dull yellow-green, cropped in a buzz cut, dormant from the cold. Weeds stuck up in spikes around the thousands of headstones jutting up like broken teeth from the earth. Gabriel had seen the sight thousands of times before, but it was somehow different this time.
It was so deadly silent.
He bolted across the Boneyard, throwing a wary glance over his shoulder to make sure he wasn’t leaving a trail of footprints pressed into the grass. He wasn’t. His feet thrummed across hardened earth, pain shooting up his foot as he bashed a toe on a headstone.
“Shit!” He tripped and fell, scraping his knees on the ground. Then he was up and running once again. His breaths came in short, sharp pants and he ran as though his life depended on it.
In reality, it did. At least his life as he knew it. Sure, he could stay and become the walking Undead, half-corpse, half-monster like dear Jeremie with his porcelain skin and row of dagger fangs and the blood dripping from his lips, staining pale skin as he drank from Gabriel’s throat. He shook his head fiercely to rid himself of the images, the memories, and just focused on running.
If he could get away, if he could be free for just a week…it would all be worth it. He’d find whoever the hell Dante Saunders was and together they’d end Jeremie’s reign of terror.
And if Jeremie found him before then, Gabriel was ready to fall on the blade. Or take a bullet to the temple. Whichever came first.
A low, booming bark echoed in the air and Gabriel’s heart jumped into his throat. He didn’t stop, couldn’t stop, even though he knew what was behind him. Big paws thundered after him, the hellhounds’ foul breath at the backs of Gabriel’s calves. He bit down the scream rising in his chest, knowing it would take more energy than he had to spare. He knew every inch of the muscled black hounds snarling behind him, from the tip of their canines to the end of their tails. If he stumbled, they’d be upon him, their bodies as hot as fire and their fangs slicing into flesh just for a taste.
Teeth grazed his ankle and Gabriel could’ve sobbed with relief as the archway of the wrought iron fence came into view. Pain lancing down his side, he sprinted for safety, darting through the opening although it sent him skittering barefoot on gravel. Shrieks rose up behind him, furious and painful as the hounds touched the wards keeping them inside the Boneyard. Magick gleamed in the air, flickering like static. Gabriel stumbled and went down on one knee, gasping for breath as he watched them pace and growl.
It wouldn’t take Jeremie nearly as long as it’d taken him to get here. He rose to his feet and headed west. He glanced down at his bare chest, to the intricate ink of the tattoo stained across his torso. A ribcage and spine had been drawn into his flesh, showing him off as property of the Bonemaster. But it was more than just a morbid decoration. No—for each of his slaves, Jeremie had ground a little of his bone to dust in the ink used, binding them to him forever. Gabriel forced a breath through his nose and took off at a jog.
Jeremie would track him come dusk. The vampire had some sort of sick obsession with Gabriel ever since he’d plucked him up out of the Marketplace when he was eighteen. Gabriel was a slave—his mother had given him up as a toddler, his life less important than needing drug money for a quick fix, and he’d been in the System since.
He’d fought the Bonemaster tooth and nail and he bore the scars for his disobedience. Now Jeremie wanted to Change him, to make him his eternal mate. Bile rose in Gabriel’s throat at the thought of that—of drinking the blood of the other slaves for sustenance and being Jeremie’s forever fuck-buddy for centuries to come.
As the sun dawned blood red in the sky, casting a golden glow on the city’s gleaming crystal and steel towers and making the pavement glimmer, Gabriel finally slowed. His calves throbbed and his feet were bruised and bloodied, but he was alive. Alive. He whistled a breath through his nose and he leaned against a building, feeling the press of stone against his bare back. Alive and free for the first time in years. He ran a hand through dark curls and rested his head against brick.
He needed a game plan. And some clothes. If someone saw his inked chest, they would know where to take him—straight back to Hell. And he needed a full day of sleep, unworried about the vampires coming to get him. Best thing about the bloodsucking bastards was that they were immobilized during the daylight hours. The only issue was: He needed money to be able to rent a motel room and slaves weren’t exactly rich.
Which meant he needed a job.
Rubbing the stubble on his jaw, he pushed off the building and started walking, feeling the warmth of the sun on his chest. The air was chilled with the brisk of autumn, fingering through his hair like whispers. Gabriel hunched his shoulders and cast his gaze around. What sort of place would hire a guy with no shirt and shoes to speak of? A job that didn’t involve clothes, even if it meant baring his ink to the world. Risky, but if he could get paid just enough to hitch a bus and a buy some clothes, he’d be out of here, far away.
Garishly bright in violet neon, Gabriel could’ve groaned. New Ryot typically swung one way or another: High class places or lowest-of-the-low slums. And from the look of the silver trimmed door with bullet wounds and the buzz of the retro neon sign flashing “Feylinn”, Gabriel was guessing this was the slums.
He sighed and swung the door inwards. It chimed merrily, inviting him into a small club decorated in hot pink and silver with a large dance floor. Bodies churned together like roaring waves, the tinge of sweat and sex in the air. One man had his hands wrapped in a woman’s hair, her throat bare to him, willing as he kissed her. The north wall held a corner bar with a long row of red vinyl stools and the back wall was a stage. The wooden floor gleamed under the lights, sporting a slender crystallite pole and the form of a man making love to it.
The man swung and dipped to the thrum of the music pounding a beat. He wore nothing but a tight black thong that revealed a perfect ass. His head arched back, hands wrapped around the clear pole, one leg sliding upwards. His skin was pale, muscles taut and glittery under the lighting, his royal blue hair done up in spikes with the bangs drifting into his face. His eyes were closed and the lights caught the silver ring adorning one nipple. Someone whistled and the stripper skirted a little closer, a seductive, secretive smile playing across his lips.
Gabriel hesitated, his eyes glued to the slender, rippling form of the man on the stage. Gorgeous, he had to admit, with a sort of liquid beauty even a vampire couldn’t attest to. Gabriel had never been given a choice about his sexuality, but despite being forced to Jeremie’s bed, men still intrigued him. It was something about their lean bodies, the supple muscle under taut skin that just…called to him in a way women never could. His tongue snaked out along his bottom lip just in time for the stripper’s eyes to open and lock on his.
His breath caught in his throat as eyes as pale as winter met his. Strange, hypnotizing eyes with snake-slit pupils. The man’s brow quirked, lips lifting into a toothy grin and then he winked and just like that, the spell was broken. The crowd gathered around the stage was glued to him as he strutted off, sashaying slender hips as he slid behind the curtains. The lights returned to the dance floor as a dark-skinned man came out and the crowd wolf-whistled.
Gabriel needed to find the man in charge. He wasn’t sure he could offer the crowd what that stripper had just offered—pure sexual energy—but he had to try. He needed cash and he needed it quick. Worrying his lip between his teeth, he took off for the stage. A burly man with four arms stopped him dead with a glare. “I’d like a job,” he said before the man could escort him away.
The bouncer gave him a look. “I suppose you look interestin’, that’s for sure.” He flashed a row of tiny, yellowed teeth. “But Butch isn’t hirin’. Sorry kid, but scram.”
“Can’t I at least talk with him?”
“Depends. You have a coin?”
Gabriel’s lip wrinkled in a sneer. “If I had a coin, I wouldn’t be here.”
“Maybe prostitution’s a better avenue for you, then.”
“I’d hire him.” The voice that trailed from behind the four-armed beast was soft with the promise of being a little bit naughty. The bouncer dropped his shoulder and glanced over at the man and Gabriel was given the full view of the stripper. He wore tight black snakeskin pants that hugged every inch of him. His chest was bare and in the lighting, Gabriel could see the glimmer of iridescent scales adorning his skin. His eyes were still eerily pale, the pupils mere slits down the center as deep blue bangs fringed into his gaze. Not only was his nipple pierced, but he had silver studs lining both ears and a ring through his bottom lip. He gave a coy grin. Not a scar marred his beautiful body. “Hey, sexy. You new around here?”
Gabriel nodded. “You could say that. I’m actually looking for a job.”
Another grin. “I already said I’d hire you. How much?”
His breath caught in his chest as he fought back nerves and the instinct to run far away from this man… “Not like that.”
“Aww, you’re no fun. I promise you’d like it.” A thoughtful pause. The man stroked his tongue over the metal of his lip ring. “But I suppose I could help you out. How much you need?”
“You’re going to let me dance?”
“Babe, if it was up to me, you could dance all day long. But I’m not Butch and he’s not here ‘til seven. Still, he has no say about who I hire. How ‘bout I pay you for a private viewing? You, me, and a bottle of Calixthe.”
“I don’t drink.”
“I do.” He flashed a brilliantly white smile, then stuck out a hand. Gabriel looked at it for a moment before gripping it in a shake. His grip was firm and cool to the touch, but not cold, not anything like Jeremie. “Urban Winters, striptease extraordinaire. And you?”
“Well then, Gabe-babe, whaddaya say we slip behind closed doors and get the party started?”
The bouncer rolled his eyes with a grunt. “At least you’re going behind closed doors this time,” he muttered, waving one of his many hands and ambling towards the bar.
“Love you too, babe!” Urban called after him with a whistle. Gabriel’s stomach did a nervous flop. He was so…out there. Outrageous. Exuberant and carefree, like a child who’d never been scolded before in his life.
He slid his gaze across Urban’s torso, tracing the glimmer of scales lying across his skin. Sure, he was aware of the Shifters—Jeremie had kept a few of them as slaves—but what was Urban? Snake? Wyvern? His gaze skimmed downwards, to the low cut of his too-tight pants, to the trail of pale hair disappearing beneath the hemline.
Urban’s pallid grey eyes met his, amused. “White viper, baby,” he said, one hand sliding down his hip and the other reaching out to Gabriel. “One hundred percent natural, no bio-genetic mutations involved.” His palm stretched toward him, slender fingers waiting. “Don’t you trust me?” His voice was nearly a whisper.
“I don’t trust anyone,” Gabriel said just as softly, his heart doing double-time as he watched the other man smirk. Anger boiled in his gut at Urban’s silent laughter and he all but slapped his hand into the man’s waiting palm. Giving the snake’s fingers a squeeze for good measure, he said, “Let’s get this over with.”