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Saturday, March 19, 2011

STARLIGHT SATURDAY

Last months interviews were so fun, they decided to let me come back in March! Call me Aine this time around…

Before we begin, I must remind everyone of the Moonlight Mistresses boring rule to please try and keep your responses to a PG13 atmosphere – *eye roll*. However, they haven’t seemed to care about double entendres, so let them fly!

My guests today are, Farely and Haley Night–– from Atlanta, Georgia. Please, have a seat on our lovely couch! Their tale can be found in Blood Bonds the first book in the City of Dragons series creation by Adrienne Wilder

*Settling comfortably onto the sofa, *

You two make one fine pair! I did a wonderful job putting you two together if I do say so myself! Then, I just love all of my matches!

Aine: Please, Farley tell our readers how you two first met. Was it by your design, or hers?

[Farley]: How we met? Yeah, well, that’s a little bit complicated. I was bought actually, at a flesh dealer’s auction. So, I don’t even know if that qualifies for meeting. Definitely doesn’t qualify for dating…

Aine: A flesh auction? Do I even want to know what that is?


[Farley]: Probably not. Besides it’s not important. I was bought and that’s how we met.

Aine: Haley Night, would you say it was love at first sight or did you find him repulsive?

[Haley Night]: Um… Well… It might be me, but I think these questions are more along the lines of what you’d ask a Human. We’re not--Never mind. It wasn’t love at first sight, considering the emotion isn’t even supposed to exist for us, more like hunger.

Aine: Hunger?

[Farley]: Yeah, I had what she needed.

Aine: Needed?

[Farley]: No, needed. You know, flesh, blood, sex…the usual.

Aine: Okay.

[Haley Night]: Maybe we should move on to the next question.

Aine: Actually, I’d like to hear more details on this one.

[Haley Night]: Are you…okay, fine. As Kin, we need our own. Flesh, blood, we have to feed. It fuels the metaphysical engine that gives up life. Without it, without each other, we die.

[Farley]: That’s why Haley’s adoptive Human Mother bought me. Haley needed someone to feed her after she hatched.
Aine: Hatched?

[Haley Night]: Seriously, next question or we’ll be here all night.

[Farley]: No, more like next week.

*clears throat* Aine: Since chaotic happenstance tends to put characters like yourselves in situations where they must work together or live together for one reason or another, tell us what chaotic happenstance “forced” the two of you to work or live together. How did you both feel about this?

[Haley Night]: Well, we’ve always worked really well together. He’s been my partner for almost a century.

Aine: And where is it that you work?

[Haley Night]: The Center for Folk and Kin Relations. Farley is a flesh trader informant and my job is to deal with unruly Males in the Tank. It keeps the cops from getting eaten and my people from getting shot.

Aine: So, you two coming together was just business as usual for you?

[Haley Night]: Sort of. Medan kidnapping Farley and holding him hostage, just forced me to have to mark him.

Aine: Mark him?

[Haley Night]: I made him mine to keep the hatchlings from eating him. He wears my scent and we’re metaphysically tied. He Belongs to me now.

Aine: Belong?

[Farley]: You know, Haley is To Whom I Belong. She’s Female I’m Male. The whole food chain, dominance/submission. I guess it’s a dragon thing…

[Haley Night]: Definitely not a Human thing.

Aine: Farely, what would you say was your biggest obstacle to overcome before you could settle into a relationship with Haley?

[Farely]: Deshi.

Aine: Deshi?

[Farely]: He hogs the bed.

Aine: So Deshi is a dog?

[Farely]: No, Deshi is Kin, like me. Only he’s the Son to the Queen of Jersey City, he’s a Prince.

Aine: And he hogs the bed?

[Farely]: And the blankets, and he eats all my Twinkies.

Aine: Haley?

[Haley Night]: He doesn’t hog the bed that much. He’s just taller than us and his shoulders are wide.

Aine: You share you bed with two men?

[Haley Night]: Males.

Aine: That’s what I said…

[Haley Night]: No, you said men, males. Farley and Deshi are Males. I told you these questions were more for Humans. Have you ever considered taking a Kin behavior course? Never know when it might come in handy. Not all of us are Domesticated, some Kin enjoy acting like the dragons we are.

Aine: But two Males?

[Farely]: She should have a dozen or more.

Aine: Excuse me?

[Farely]: She’s Female. Yeah, you might want to take Haley up on the whole, Kin behavior training, all this would make so much more sense…

Aine: Haley, did I hear him correctly. Dozens of Males?

[Haley Night]: I’m Female, so that means I should have a harem of Males but it’s just one of those things that’s never interested me. My Human impressions I guess. I don’t act very Kin because I wasn’t Impressed by Medan, our Queen, I was impressed by a Human woman.


Silence.


[Farely]: I think you scared her.

[Haley Night]: Shhhh-- Next question?

Aine: I’m not sure what to ask at this point

[Farely]: You could ask her about Orin, Creyal or maybe that good looking new guy who just so happens to be her new boss. What’s his name? Alex Jackson. She won’t date him because he’s Human.

[Haley Night]: Farley!

Aine: *Leans forward* Just how many men, I mean Males, do you have in your life?

[Farely]: God of Man, I love it when she blushes.

[Haley Night]: I think that question is a little personal don’t you?

Aine: No.

[Farely]: Me either.

[Haley Night]: You, * points at Farley.* Be quiet.

Aine: So?

[Haley Night]: It’s not what you think. I’m not Human, I’m Kin, we aren’t monogamous, we need each other. Sexual taboos don’t exist for us.

[Farely]: I wish…

Aine: *Looks at Farley* You wish what?

[Farely]: Sexual taboos don’t exist for most of us. Haley was impressed by a Human. That means she has all these obnoxious Human morals that get in the way and cause problems.

Aine: What kind of problems.

[Farely]: Well, for starters, no sex in public, no walking around naked, no…

[Haley Night]: Next question!

Aine: I’m sorry folks, but that’s all the time we have for today. Thanks to Farley and Haley for joining us today and giving us some great answers. We hope you’ll check out their story, City of Dragons: Blood Bonds

To learn more about their author, Adrienne Wilder visit: http://www.theatlantadens.com/

Home Page http://www.theatlantadens.com/
Artwork Link: http://cityofdragons.daportfolio.com/

Buy Link http://www.king-cart.com/cgi-bin/cart.cgi?store=linda018&category=Adrienne+Wilder




Blurb:

Living with Humans is never easy. They don’t do scent exchange, they don’t lick palms, and they have this thing called “personal space”.

As the first and only Kin Agent for the Center of Folk and Kin Relations, Haley Night’s job is to help keep the public safe by helping keep the peace. But after an interview with serial man-eater Niles Fury goes terribly wrong, Haley finds herself face-to-face with a plot to destroy her species--genocide.

With the help from her best friend and partner Farley, she sets off on a race against time to stop a madman’s plot to destroy Kin. It’s a journey that will put to the test everything she thought she knew: Kin have no God, survive at all costs, and love is only a Human emotion.

Welcome to Atlanta, Georgia… City of Dragons…

Excerpt:

This was it.

Haley Night’s three inch heels clicked off her steps in the sterile, white, high-walled tunnel as she moved deeper into the Atlanta Draconian Prison Facility--the ADF, as it was known to the Humans and those who worked with them. All the while her emotions ricocheted between anticipation and dread.

Anticipation, because after fifty-some-odd years with the Center for Folk and Kin Relations--ten of them with official Agent status--Haley was finally flying solo. No escort. No babysitter.

Only because everyone else was too scared to go with her.

Whatever. She’d take the cards that she’d been dealt and run like hell. If she could show the Administration she could handle this on her own they’d give her other assignments. Q and A with uncooperative Male Kin was getting sort of old.

But isn’t that what I’m doing here?

Yeah, it was, but at least it wasn’t going to happen down in one of the interrogation Tanks in the Center basement.

Nope.

This was way better.

So here she was twelve stories down, under millions of pounds of concrete, taking a long walk down a very narrow hall that led ... where else ... but the basement of basements in the ADF. And thinking about that fueled the dread. A thin sheen of sweat dotted her upper lip.

Now, Kin are cave dwellers by nature, but this wasn’t anything like a cave. A cave has multiple tunnels, several ways in, several ways out, rooms, even hidden passageways. This place was nothing more than one giant roach motel. People check in but they don’t check out.

She reminded herself she was here on behalf of the Bureau, at the request of the D.A. himself ... and because Niles Fury scares the living piss out the Humans.

Literally.

Haley had to give the A.D.A. Bob Crane credit. At least he tried. Niles scared most dragons, so it wasn’t a surprise that Bob pissed his Mark Nasons full. It had been a bad idea to send a Human anywhere near Niles. They don’t do well with the idea they’re just snack food waiting to happen. After all, that’s exactly why Niles was here. Crimes against Humanity. Specifically, eating them.

They should’ve sent her the first time. She had the experience and she was Female. It gave her the upper hand in the Tanks on a daily basis. Ten minutes in a room with the most difficult Male and she could have them eating out of her hand.

Or at least licking her palm.

It would have saved time and a good pair of shoes. ‘Cause no one likes to ruin a good pair of shoes.

Haley stopped in front of the last of eleven steel doors leading into the depths of the ADF and hit the buzzer. She checked her watch. It was five after. Her appointment was at nine sharp. She was late and late wasn’t acceptable.

The guard in the view screen was getting busy with his sandwich.

“I.D. please,” he said around a mouthful of ... was that tuna? At nine in the morning?

Five after nine, chickadee. You’re late.

“Look, I’ve just shown my I.D.” She looked over her shoulder and tried to remember how many check points she’d passed. “Six, times? Seven? Can you just let me in?”

He gave her a bored look and sucked a wad of mustard off his thumb.

“I.D. lady. Regulation eight point eight...”

“I know, I know...” Haley put down the brief case and fumbled with the ID fastened to the hem of her skirt. She undid the clasp and slid it out of the plastic sleeve, a battle all its own ... because regulation eight point nine something dictated that the ID could not be obstructed by foreign materials. ‘Cause a clear plastic sleeve is really going to keep someone from being able to tell the difference between a fake ID and a real one from the other side of a monitor.

No need to rehash that argument. Door keeper number three had already made it perfectly clear he didn’t give a flying flip. The regulation book was gospel and that was that.

Haley held her ID up to the screen. The guard on the other side was too distracted by his sandwich to even look at it.

Jerk.

The lock buzzed and the door, all nine tons of reinforced carbon steel of it, slid open with surprisingly little sound.

Haley wasted no more time and went in.

Inside it was just a whole lot more white, but the walls were easily twenty feet high. For decorations, they had cameras. The little red lights next to the lenses blinked down at her. Her eyes scanned the rest of the room. What the hell was it with Humans and the color white? She suddenly wished she’d worn something other than black. Both her skirt and blazer were black. Her blouse matched the paint job. Her shoes matched the skirt and blazer. Hey, at least she was color coordinated. Still it was hard not feeling like a lost ink blot in a giant drawing pad.

The only real color in the room was the orange jump suit worn by Niles Fury. Prisoner 0984632 according to the numbers stamped on the back of his prison issued threads.

Nile’s shackled arms were spread wide on the steel slab and building supports that was posing as a table. Its legs were bolted into the floor. Probably to keep him from picking it up and throwing it at someone.

Pleasant thought, that.

Her eyes went back to the chains that went from his arms, to his waist and then the floor. They could anchor a battleship.

I wonder if the Yamamoto is missing some gear?

Niles raised his head, his shoulders spread, and the orange jumpsuit strained to keep him covered. His skull was smooth except for a single black braid that had been cultured from a patch of hair at the back of his head.

Haley was used to seeing big Human shapes on Kin. Most used it to gain a size advantage they didn’t have in their natural form. It was a way to bluff wing span and strength.

But something told Haley nothing about Niles was a bluff.

She walked around the table, taking him all in. And, boy, there was a lot to see.

Niles’s skin was smooth and evenly tanned in that artificial way that only came million dollar plastic surgeries or, in this case, metaphysical energy. His face was all angles with a strong Greco-Roman influence and his eyes were Eastern. Flawless. A regular GQ cover model.

The serial man-eater issue.

His Nevus was a mixture of reds and yellows. It crawled up out from the collar of his jumper and traced his jaw line stopping just under each eye. It looked like he was wrapped in fire. If his oh-so-god-like physical perfection didn’t give him away for what he was, that birth mark would. All Kin had them, each one unique. A mark of bloodline, lineage, and metaphysical energy.

Niles’ lips parted and nostrils flared as he inhaled her scent, raking it across his palate with his tongue. Haley could smell his Male musk bloom in response to her presence. It tasted sweet on the back of her throat. Like the Nevus, it was also unique.

She put her briefcase down by the metal chair and sat. The thing was so cold and hard it felt like she was planting her butt on a pizza pan. Niles flipped open his eyes and the color hit her like a pair of head lights.

Red. Ruby red. As dark as Human blood. The pupil in the middle was black. In a state of true Blood Rage even that would have been blocked out.

“Niles Fury, I’m Haley Night.”

He went still, staring at her with a dark expression. Males in the Tank never looked at her like that. Haley made herself turn her head. She smoothed out her skirt, adjusted her blazer then pulled the file out of her brief case and set it down on the table. Niles Fury didn’t even breathe.

Get a grip. You deal with Males every day in the Tank. Niles Fury is just like all the rest.

But sitting here in front of him, she knew something was different. Haley cleared her throat.

“I was hoping you’d still be willing to help the D.A. with a couple of things. I brought files.” She tried to carry on but found herself watching him and wondering if he was even real.

Then he took a breath. One long slow inhale. It was like someone popped his top and poured life back into him. Niles blinked once. The movement looked artificial, like maybe he sat up late at night practicing in front of a mirror, trying to look more Human.

He needed practice. Lots and lots of practice.

Niles Fury was the kind of Kin that pissed Haley off. It was Kin like him that kept the rest of them in the dark ages: feared, hated, and generally despised. His selfish, pompous nature hurt the entire race. The Old Ones tended to be that way--stuck in their arrogance, unable to accept the times and quit eating the public.

And all that fed was prejudice.

But in four days, his reign of terror would come to an end. His death would save a lot of Human lives and, if the rumors were true, put a serious dent in the illegal flesh trade within the city.

Niles had evaded the Bureau for well over seventy-five years. Ever since they first caught wind he was here in the US, there had been a warrant out for his head. As technology got better, they got closer. Then six months ago, he’d been subdued. Maybe his death would set an example. For a people who believed in nothing after life, death could be an incredible motivator.

“Why are you here?” His words were accented with Olde Tongue, but his English was perfect. Mix that with his deep baritone and James Earl Jones might as well have been Mickey Mouse.

Maybe he’d forgotten about the appointment he’d made with the D.A. Oh, since yesterday?

“I told you I...”

Niles Fury cut her off. “You’re not supposed to be here.”

There was an odd lilt to his voice. Fear? If he had been any other Kin, maybe. But this was Niles Fury. Fear? Yeah. Right. Haley wasn’t even part of the Dens and she knew about his reputation.

His arms flexed and the chain rattled. Heat rolled off his body and the air ignited with the scent of burning Alchemist magic. The Oisis pin in his back kept him from showing any of his Kin self.

Niles bared his teeth. Human teeth.

Haley managed not to roll her eyes. Barely. She was used to the theatrics. Lots of Kin liked to flash scale and teeth. While it was illegal to Shift outside of designated fly zones, a little show and tell was expected. A social display that was practically a language all its own.

“You’re not supposed to be here,” he said again.

“I heard you the first time.” Haley spread out the reports she wanted him to look over. All of them unsolved homicides associated with the flesh trade. Some worse than others. The M.O.’s made it unlikely any of them were his, but if Niles could identify some of the bodies, maybe even name some of the people who were responsible for the bodies, he could do something productive for once in his miserable life.

“I agreed to speak with one of the Bureau Chetrah. Not. You.”

Haley tried not to wince. Chetrah was common enough Olde Tongue slang that even Humans had learned what it meant. Food. More precisely, “sweet meat”. Throwing that word around in public was like an Aryan poster boy screaming the “N” word at a NAACP convention.

“I’m here because you scared the A.D.A into pissing his pants, and now no one else will come down here and talk to you.” She pushed the first file under his right hand. “I’m all you’ve got. It’s just you and me.” Haley smiled and folded her hands.

Niles shut his eyes.

Great. Must be nap time.
*

This was bad.

No, this is worse than bad.

He tried to find some sense of calm, but there was just too much anger. Anger fueled him. Anger drove him. Anger had shielded him from the power of the Queens, and it had shielded him from the Alchemy the Chetrah used to try and control him.

Now, anger was quickly becoming his enemy. He’d planned on trying one last time to get out of here. The last attempt had gone south too quickly. The A.D.A had been too weak-willed and he’d pushed too hard.

The plan seemed simple. He’d agree to speak with one of the Chetrah and when they were close enough, he’d catch their mind. The problem was getting them close enough without shorting out their fear response. Unlike prey, he didn’t want them immobile. He just wanted them to do as he said. The only command he planned on giving them was to pull the pin out of his back. Simple enough. Even a monkey could do it. Or in this case, homo sapiens.

After the pin was out, he’d kill the Chetrah and use their blood and flesh to heal the damage he was going to endure getting out of this place. But he had to do it from here--from this room. Any deeper and he’d never make it to the surface and wind up consumed by his own fire.

And the plan would have worked.

Colonel Dobson would die and the lab below would be lost. He would be safe, his people would be safe, and so would she. But that wasn’t possible now. The plan had changed. Instead of the Chetrah with his briefcase, papers, and his stupid questions, it was the Female he’d been so careful to never meet. To never touch.

Her scent clung to the roof of his mouth and the inside of his nose. It did things to him ... things that scared him ... things he couldn’t explain. In her presence, the anger inside him withered and cowered, leaving him helpless. That had only happened with one other, centuries ago ... make that a millennia. It was stupid to think that there was rebirth after death just as it was stupid to think there were gods. Death was final, absolute. And yet...

Every atom, every molecule hummed in her presence. It always happened when he got too close. Just like before. Those were better times. The Chetrah knew their place in the world and had no Alchemy. His Brother felt it too, which was why they worked to protect her and keep the Queens at bay. The Queens didn’t fear his softer sibling, but they feared him. They feared the Fury he could bring down on them.

The pin in his back burned as his metaphysical energy surged. The Ulysiss gland between his shoulders felt like fire. It rivaled the starvation-fueled pain pricking over the rest of his body.

“When’s the last time you fed?”

Her voice caused his hearts to jump, slamming the blood in his veins, and firing up all his senses. He opened his eyes and looked at her, captivated by her lack of perfection and her mastery at Humanness.

But then that’s what she’d Impressed on instead of a Queen. No wonder she was so much like them. Her movements, her voice, her eyes and mouth conveying emotion just like the Chetrah. If it wasn’t for her scent, she could pass for one. The idea repulsed and intrigued him all in one breath.

Her hand moved near his and he held very still. He didn’t know what he would do if she touched him. But touch was what he craved, what he needed. His starved metaphysical side screamed for it and clawed at his insides begging to be let out.

Does Dobson know she is here?

The thought sent the smallest lick of fear through him. How long would it be before the colonel got word that his visitor was her and not one of the Chetrah. He would find a way to keep her here. He would find some reason to trap her down in that lab and take what he wanted from her: blood and bone to finish his science. And all Kin would be dead before the month was out.

Niles thought hard and fast. What were the options? Escape wasn’t going to happen, but if that Chetrah Dobson found out she was here, then everything he’d tried so hard to protect would be lost. Niles Fury believed in no gods, no magical afterlife, and nothing supernatural. And yet he was driven by the inexplicable need to watch over her. He blamed that on his Brother, the source of all his weaknesses. That half of him borrowed his anger and no matter how Niles Fury resisted, his sibling managed to leak his own conscience back in its place. Even though he hated the compulsion he was helpless to fight it.

Niles had to get her out. He wouldn’t be able to control the knowledge that he’d eventually leak to the Queen that owned him. For his Brother, the channels were always open and leaking everywhere. Anger kept them clogged full, which was exactly what Niles Fury needed most of the time.

That way, the Queen couldn’t get to both of them.

But the constant trickle of loyalty and ethics that kept being shed down to him was a bother.

A regular fucking Jiminy Cricket.

Niles’ bond with the Queen worried him. He needed to get around that, so he could warn Haley Night. But the only time the bitch couldn’t hear the thoughts between him and his Brother was when he was deep in unconsciousness. A state that superseded sleep and bordered on death.

He had to get her out of here.

Just like that, his mind shifted gears and started planning. He didn’t like the plan but he was helpless to stop it. His compulsion to keep her out of harm’s way was unstoppable. He reworked his ideas of escape and shaped them into a scenario of death.

His.

*

The long stretch of silence started playing on Haley’s nerves like a cat walking across a piano. But the problem was obvious. Niles Fury hadn’t fed. It was unusual for a Kin this old to succumb to isolation and hunger so quickly. But then maybe he’d gone for a while without on the outside.

It was the only logical explanation.

“Niles, did you hear what I asked you? When’s the last time you fed?”

His tongue stroked his lips and a small wicked grin made his ruby eyes fierce.

“Too long,” he said. He moved ever so slightly and the chains protested.

God of Man, how she hated those things.

“I’m sorry about...” Haley looked at the chains and didn’t quite know how to put it in words. “You must really scare them if they feel a need to lock you down like...” “A monster” went unsaid, but then maybe that’s exactly what he wanted: to be feared. A lot of Kin wanted to be seen as predators. Haley didn’t get it, but she’d been Impressed and raised by Humans.

Niles tilted his head ever so slightly. His eyes slid across her face, down her shoulders, lingered at her chest, and were diverted by the table which forced them to her arms then hands.

Her fingers were a few inches from his. She’d started to reach for him, to give him comfort, but she also didn’t want to send him the wrong signals.

She was, after all, out here on her own. Beyond the confines of the Bureau, there would be less tolerance for normal Kin behavior and a ton of bureaucratic bullshit if she acted inappropriately. Which, for Humans, meant anything touchy-feely or beyond the boundaries of personal space.

It was one of the biggest problems her people had working with man and was a constant Human Resource nightmare.

Even though the son-of-a-bitch sitting in front of her was a man-eater, it pained her to see him suffering. Her Human rearing said he deserved it while her Kin nature argued he’d only been doing what comes naturally. A few hundred years was not a lot of time for an entire race to alter a behavior based in biology.

Eat and survive.

And Human flesh and blood just happened to be extremely fulfilling. Like fine steak and wine, only better.

Still, it was wrong. Kin nature also dictated respect for the Dominant race. Intelligence had nothing to do with where you sat on the food chain. However, dominance meant the other species had carved out their niche and proven themselves able to fight and win.

Humans and their creative nature had made them a worthy opponent for Kin.

Unfortunately, there were still a few who refused to acknowledge they had been bested by a hairless monkey that had no power to fly, no fire, no metaphysical ties, and the life expectancy comparable to a house fly.

This was getting her nowhere. Most Males begged for her touch. There were very few Females to the number of Male Kin, and Females spent the majority of their lives holed up inside the Hive, catered to and protected by their selected Harem. That meant only a small number of Males ever got to see Kin of the opposite sex, let alone touch.

Screw it. Paperwork be damned.

Haley closed the distance between them and touched his hand. He was on fire. His skin was burning up with metaphysical energy.

Niles Fury blinked again, long and slow and his chest hitched like he was having trouble breathing. Haley pressed her palm against his fist and he responded by opening his fingers and accepting the touch. His lips curled, flashing bright white teeth that looked a little too jagged. She didn’t pull away. You didn’t offer your touch then reclaim it. It was bad, bad manners. The kind that could get your liver ripped out and handed to you.

Haley slid her fingers to his wrist and pressed her thumb to the pulse that was beating like a constant drum under his skin. For Humans, it would have been an intimate gesture. But for Kin, it was simply hello-hi-how-are-you-nice-to-meet-you.

Niles came forward and Haley’s hand was swallowed up by his dark, perfect skin. He cradled her hand like it was a flower and raised it to his face, touched his lips to her palm, and left a wet hot line down the center with his tongue. His mouth opened and he breathed, drawing in her scent from across the skin. Haley could feel the metaphysical surge as it crashed over her, stirring her instincts.

She told them to sit and stay or she was getting out the rolled up newspaper.

“You should leave,” Niles Fury rumbled. But he didn’t let go of her hand. His teeth flashed again and there wasn’t a Human one left in his mouth. It should have been impossible. Alchemist magic was a powerful force.

“If you’ll help me, I’ll be out of your hair in no time.”

Okay, that was a bad choice of words, considering he’s doing a good impersonation of Mr. Clean. She cleared her throat and waited for him to let her go. Like every other movement it was slow and deliberate, as if he was trying to use limbs he hadn’t gotten used to yet.

“Will you help me?” Haley asked.

Niles dropped his stare to the folder in front of her. She took it as an opportunity and slid it closer. He started slow, his eyes scanning the glossies then his hand flipped them off to the side.

Haley watched him, feeling unusually sad. His Human form was beautiful and she was willing to bet his true shape was even more stunning. What a shame he wasted so much potential, so many possibilities to help his race, all over illegal flesh trading. And why do it illegally? God of Man knows there are enough crazies with the Mankind for Kin group that are willing to donate blood and flesh to feed her people.

She had to admit, there was something seriously demented about the idea of Humans tattooing themselves up with the Olde Tongue script reading Chetrah and standing around in the Dens like a walking all-you-can-eat-buffet.

All-you-can-eat until they die that is.

Niles stopped, his eyes lingering on one of the photos. Haley caught the splatters of bright red and high white contrast of dead Human flesh from the corner of her eye.

“How do you live among the Chetrah and not crave their flesh?” he asked. His eyes were locked on the photo, his fingers petting the slick surface.

She knew he was thinking about food. He might as well have been staring at a slice of chocolate pie.

He glanced up at her, his ruby eyes burning.

“I just don’t,” Haley replied. It was the truth. She didn’t have any of the blood cravings that seemed to affect a lot of Kin. Okay, most Kin. Even her partner and best friend, Farley, dealt with a long standing addiction to the stuff.

However, a Human had raised her.

“Raised” wasn’t really the right word because Kin didn’t begin life as infants. Life for them started as impressionable beings--white-scales--driven by insatiable hunger. The Human woman that took her in didn’t fear the unruly beast that was still pale with hatching skin. She fed Haley the meat and blood her newly hatched body craved, and she Impressed her with the images she would need to emulate a Human shape.

Haley had no Queen to present her with images of perfection, mentally or physically, in the form of flesh offerings. She was left emulating the Human woman and the examples she could provide.

For Haley, eating Humans was repulsive. Heck, if feeding wasn’t necessary she would have refrained from that. But there were parts of her biology that even Human Impressions couldn’t suppress. Thank God of Man she had Farley.

“The pictures, Niles.” Like any well-trained Agent, she changed the subject.

His eyes narrowed. “My name is Niles Fury. Don’t call me Niles.”

Haley arched an eyebrow. A Kin having two names was unusual. It was respectful to use only the first name, disrespectful to call them only by the second. But a Male insisting on being called by the first and second together? That was downright bizarre.

He went back to the stack of photos, and it was silent except for the sound of pages being turned.

After a moment Niles paused at another and made a disapproving sound in the back of his throat. “I do not understand the fascination with fucking food before you eat it.” He turned the photo one way then the next. The scene was nothing more than a collage of bodies and broken furniture. He pushed the stack back towards Haley.

“You haven’t looked at them all.” She stopped him by putting her hand on the folder.

“I never fuck my food before I eat it. I prefer it running. Screaming. Pleading for mercy. None of these bodies are mine. Too much meat left on the bones. Too much blood spilled. I eat what I kill. All. Of. It.”

Haley flinched; she couldn’t help it. And the weakness did not go unnoticed by the Male. He grinned, his shoulders flexing, the heat of all that trapped metaphysical energy surging like a south wind. Red scales flashed along his forearms and neck.

That just wasn’t possible.

She flicked her eyes back up at his face. He was smiling. A knowing expression that belonged on the face of a grandfather, not a serial man-eater. It made her blood cold.

“I’m sorry. Did I offend the pet dragon?”

Yeah, he was sorry all right, just not in the way he fantasized about.

Haley shoved the files back under his hands. That bastard was going to give her something to take to the PD if she had to beat it out of him. Another mountain of HR paperwork but the satisfaction might be worth a pack or two of Bic pens. He was a Male after all. Nothing special. Nothing she couldn’t handle.

Maybe if she kept telling herself that she’d eventually believe it.

“Respect the dead,” she said, her voice tight and her teeth clenched.

Niles slapped the file from the table top turning the white-washed room into a cheap snow globe.

Haley stood and planted her hands on the table. Niles met her challenge coming out of his seat. Chains tightened with a sharp clack and kept him from standing to his full height. Even at half-mast he was big. Really. Big.

She pegged him with a glare. “You’re going to die in four days. And that means you have four days to do something with your life that shows the Humans that run this world you have some grain of sympathy for their loss of life.”

“Or what?”

“There is no ‘or what,’” she snapped. “It would be the decent thing to do.”

Niles threw back his head and roared in laughter when he rolled his head back down his blazing stare hit her hard. “And you think I care about decent?”

Obviously not. Out loud she said, “Well at least it would give your existence some sliver of value. Because as it stands, your life is worth nothing. You’re worth nothing...”

A long low growl trickled from the back of his throat and he curled his lip.

Haley waved him off. “Save your theatrics. I am not a Human and I am not a lowly Male. There is nothing about you that scares me.”

He leaned forward as far as the chains would let him. The metal groaned and the air ignited with the smell of burning magic.

“Then you don’t know me well enough, Haley Night.” He opened his mouth wide flashing too many teeth for a Human mouth. It didn’t last very long; the Alchemy overrode his biology and pushed his metaphysical energies back down.

Haley glared at him. Her own heat was coursing through her veins causing a pulse in the back of her skull. But a lot of practice keeping a Human job had made her good at holding back on those small metaphysical surges. ‘Cause there’s nothing that says “I’m pissed off” like a mouth full of fang. And no matter how cool one is with his or her boss, they do not want to see teeth like that in their employee’s mouth.

“How can you die knowing you’ve done nothing for your people?” she asked as she snatched up the photos and reports that had been lucky enough to land on the table.

Niles fell still again and the room was plunged into an eerie silence.

When he spoke, that baritone voice that made her bones vibrate was barely a whisper. “How can you live knowing the Chetrah you covet so much are planning the destruction of our people?”

Was he serious? More like delusional.

Haley shook her head. This interview was going nowhere. She had a class at noon full of new trainees for the Civil Peace Division. Treading water with Niles Fury wasn’t worth being late for that and starting off with the wrong impression. The first day always set the pace with new recruits. If it began sloppy, then the rest of their nine week course would be equally half-assed, and that meant more people wound up dead. And when her students wound up killed, it became a personal matter. Unlike Niles, they weren’t a waste of her time.

“Your need has scrambled that gray matter trapped between your ears.”

Niles snapped at the air in front of her face. Haley refused to back away. As far as she was concerned, he was no different than any poorly mannered half-feral Male. Just bigger, older, and more stupid.

She flicked him a look. “You’d think being on such a short leash would instill some decency to quit acting like a dog.”

Overhead, the intercom clicked on and a tinny voice addressed Haley Night with concern for her well-being.

“I’m fine,” she called back. “Just dealing with a few behavioral issues...”

And these were nothing that a session with the Dog Whisperer would straighten out either.

Niles snarled and snaked his neck in a way that suggested he had joints where no Human would. His eyes rolled up at the overhead cameras.

“Good morning, Romero. How’s that hand working out for you? Are you able to beat off in the john again or is your fuck buddy, Frank-O, still giving you lip service.”

The speaker crackled but the voice didn’t reply.

Haley glared at Niles while she scrounged for a few more pieces of tossed paper.

Niles lunged at her when she leaned down close to him to pick up a report. She didn’t even flinch and continued retrieving the contents of her folder. There must have been a hundred pages. The thing had been thick, but she never imagined there’d be so many. Haley continued with her private game of fifty-two pick up while Niles frothed and growled.

Pathetic, really.

The intercom kicked on again and the tinny voice asked her if she required any assistance.

Haley stood up with a half dozen rescued glossies. “I’m still okay, really.” She put them back into the folder as neatly as she could. Organizing them would have to wait. She pushed back a lock of dark hair and eyed the mess.

“You know, you’re a real pain in the...” Niles’ hand flew out slapped the folder out of her hand again. Then he did the unthinkable. He grabbed hold of her wrist and yanked her flush against his body. Touching a Female without permission was an unforgivable act. Haley growled and Niles jerked her like he was trying to shake something loose.

She didn’t react and his eyes widened a little.

“Let me go.”

Niles ignored her.

Overhead, Romero or Frank-O started barking orders for Niles to release his visitor and drop to his knees on the floor.

“Fuck you, Romero. Maybe I’ll just have one more little snack before I check out.”

“I’m not...” A hand closed around her throat cutting off the air she needed to speak.

Niles leaned in close to her, smelling her hair. He ran his tongue across her cheek and raked his teeth across her ear, nicking it.

“You do a really good job looking like the Chetrah.” His hot breath hit her neck. “Do you think they know? I’m betting even if they do, you’re pretty enough to draw them in here.” His ruby eyes came up to hers. So close their noses almost touched.

The tinny voice overhead was trying to sound more authoritative and wound up sounding panicked.

“Scream for me, Haley. Bring the Chetrah to me so I can bathe one last time in their blood.” His hand loosened on her neck.

“Let me go or I’ll...” The vice closed down again.

“Make me, Chetrah pet. Control me like a proper Female. Demand that I bow to you and maybe I will.”

Yeah, right. Haley squeezed his wrist with her own hand and felt something crack. Niles laughed, throwing back his head and roaring like a monster.

“I like this one, Romero! Reminds me of you! Think I should start with her fingers and work my way down her toes? I haven’t forgotten about you, Frank-O. I’ll give you a special treat. Carve your daughter’s name in her back; pretend it’s your kid I’m tearing apart. Think you’ll have nightmares? I bet you’ll have nightmares till the end of your pitiful days.”

The screaming siren cut the air like broken glass. Small yellow security lights began flashing from the recesses in the wall above. Niles snarled and Haley squeezed his hand snapping the bones in his wrist. With a quick twist he had her around the waist and pinned to the table. His body pressed down on her back, his mouth was to her ear again.

“I wish we had more time together.” His scent spiked as he moved his knee up between her legs and inched her skirt higher. “But do not think I will waste this moment we have.” To the Humans it would look like he was considering rape. But those kinds of things didn’t exist for Kin. Niles was trying to get as close to her as possible, to feed his metaphysical side. Even the slightest bit of fabric made drawing on it difficult.

Haley strained to push him off of her but he had her too far over the table and her feet couldn’t touch the ground. Her left hand pushed against the steel slab to keep him from crushing her ribs against the edge, and the right kept squeezing, snapping the bones in his wrist as quick as they healed.

“I need you to scream for me, Haley.”

Effectively pinned he moved his arm from around her ribs, his hand inched up her thigh, and slip under her blazer. His fingertips dug into the ulysiss gland in her lower back. The surge of pleasure ignited her body. Niles released her throat just enough that her cries sounded strangled and desperate.

“Very good.”

“Let go of me...” she hissed.

“Oh, nooo ... not yet.” Sharp points raked against her ribs. “Do you fear me yet?”

“No,” she spat and bucked against him. Damn, he was strong.

He rubbed his cheek against hers. “I have so enjoyed your company. I only wish my bothersome Brother hadn’t always been there to stop me from doing things...” His lips pressed to her ear. “Such glorious things...”

Haley whipped her head around to the sound of a metal door sliding open. At her back, Niles tensed, his body pulling taught like a bow string.

In a low, deep snarl he muttered, “Show time.”

Niles Fury threw her like a broken doll and she hit the wall hard enough to crack a rib and see black fireworks. As she lifted her aching head, Human guards were filing into the room, dressed in riot gear, armed with Plexiglas face masks and were those...

Stun guns?

They might as well be planning to poke a rattlesnake with a sharp stick.

The sound of chains screaming brought her head up in time to see the metal links at the floor on his left snap. A criss-cross of Taser barbs filled the air and hit Niles from head to toe turning him into a walking pin cushion. The rapid fire sounded like it was coming from microscopic machine guns, and for all the good it did, they might as well have been.

Haley watched in horror as the massive Male launched the chair he’d been sitting in with one kick. It took out the closest guard, popping his skull wide like an over-ripe melon. With a heave of his shoulders once, twice, the chains on his left came free and became a new kind of weapon. Heavy steel whistled gaining momentum then with a flick it snapped like a whip. Bones cracked and the sounds of screaming men propelled Haley from the ground. Their fear made the blood they shed smell candy sweet. She had to stop this.

Shifting was out of the question. The confines were too narrow and too many humans were in the way. But it didn’t mean she couldn’t tap into her metaphysical side, push just enough scale and muscle to back up her demands.

“Niles!” she screamed, but he wasn’t listening. He’d zeroed in on the new game that’d just walked into the room. This kind of screaming and bleeding fun was right up his alley.

Haley threw herself into the much larger Male and at the same time unsheathed her chelae. His flesh parted and his ribs snapped. Thick green ichor rushed over her hand and splattered on the white floor mixing with red.

I’m never going to look at Christmas the same again.

Niles spun and she slammed her other fist into his chest, her fingertips brushed the first of two hearts. Haley pulled on the preternatural energy created by her biology and channeled it down her arms. The smaller, half-shifted muscles and bones were not strong enough to withstand the adrenaline pumping through her body. Tendons and muscle shredded under her skin which split as bone cracked. Anger and pain tore out of her throat, but she succeeded in stopping Niles’ forward momentum and sent him crashing to the ground.

Behind her, the guards scattered. “She’s one of them! Holy fucking God...”

Don’t run ... don’t scream.

It was a battle to stay on top of Niles with her fists buried in his ribs and chest and not chase after them. They smelled like food.

The burn of healing gave her something else to think about until they were gone. Niles tried to sit up and she shoved him back down, squeezing his lower heart in her grip. Air bubbled around the hole she’d made in his ribs. His eyes rolled upward and his mouth opened and closed.

He tried again and she pushed him back. “Stay down, Niles.”

The Alchemists were coming. She could feel them like an oncoming storm.

He looked at her with those ruby eyes and she felt her insides hitch. “Finish it...”

“Shut up and lay still.”

“Kill me, Haley.”

“What?”

“Do it. Kill me.” His hands locked on her wrist and he shoved her claws deeper. She retracted in time to avoid piercing the heart. Niles made a frustrated sound in the back of his throat. A thick green bubble formed on his lips and popped.

Haley shook her head. Kin don’t request to die. Kin don’t commit suicide. Kin fear death. Having the potential to live forever will do that.

“You are difficult to anger...” He actually sounded exasperated.

“You did this on purpose?”

He grinned at her flashing sharp teeth painted with his blood.

“Why?”

“I have to die so you will be safe.” He touched her cheek and pushed his fingers into her hair. His ruby eyes stared like he was seeing through her most private thoughts.

“Safe? Why would you dying make me safe?”

“He saw your blood. He knows. Deviant Nuestrauss.” Niles slipped into Olde Tongue and Haley cursed her lack of discipline. All Females could speak the Mother language, but then all Females were raised by their Queens, protected and comforted, not thrown out into the Human world, denied the most basic Kin ways.

“Niles...” Behind her heavy boots rose and fell, rhythmic, like a machine. The air crackled with the stench of magic as the Oisis pin in Niles’s back responded to their presence.

Yeah, it would make sense that something so nasty would recognize its maker.

Haley looked up to see the black dressed figures surround them. A hand reached out and grabbed her by the back of the neck. Eyes, dark pits of nothing but magic stared at her through the protective helmet. Male or Female, she had no idea, but there were bits of blond hair sticking out from the edge of the facemask it wore.

A bark of pain escaped her throat as she was hurled into the table. Weakened from the expense of healing, her body was slow to respond.

Blue-white sparks illuminated the room as the Alchemists pulled their tritons. Torture devices, nothing more. Haley struggled for air; something sharp was making her breaths come in short quick gasps.

Rib, she thought. The heat of healing was slow to rise. She’d spent a lot of energy taking him down, healed a lot of bones to keep him there. And now she was helpless to watch as they struck him, over and over, with the wide-pronged weapons.

One of the Alchemists stepped back from the team giving Niles’s body an electric workout. Haley raised her head. Was it the one who had thrown her?

The eyes were black, same as any other Alchemist.

The Alchemist raised the triton and said, “Night-night, wyrm.”

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1 Moonbeams (comments):

Gracen Miller said...

Thanks for joining us today, Adrienne! Fantastic interview! I love the premise of your story and looooove the excerpt! It has definitely hit my TBR list.

All the best of success.

Huggles,
Gracen