Loose Canon, Chapter One

Trick

The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets.

Sound advice from one of the richest men to have ever lived. I’m not sure he meant it quite so literally as this day and age has taken it, but the truth is, there is blood in the streets, and it’s not all created equal. There’s blue blood, and those are the rivers that spin the wheels of politics and businesses, of kingdoms and corporations, of Fortune 500 companies. They’re the shakers, the moneymakers, the mountain movers, the men of good standing. They’re the kings and princes, prime ministers and presidents, the men that other men want to be. They build their kingdoms on the backs of the red-blooded, using the muscle and sweat of people common enough to be their oxen. And there are a lot of oxen.

The real trick is weeding through all the blue and the red to find the gold at the end of the bloody fucking rainbow, and trust me when I say that I…

…am the real Trick here.

And I learned a long time ago that nothing is thicker than blood, especially if you’re a vampire. I guess that’s why I ended up at Scion tonight. For all that I have zero use for the resident rock star, his nightclub is the only place in LA where I can reach every tier of my target demographic.

AKA, vampires.

Rich ones, poor ones, new ones, old ones, ambitious ones, lazy ones, partiers, networkers, they’re all here. So while I could roll up to any nightclub in LA and unload a wallet full of dead presidents, Scion is place to be for blanketing. All the blue blood is here.

The gold blood, too.

As if on cue, the soft scent of Hermès 24 Faubourg hits my nostrils. Smells like the worst parts of Paris at high noon, and only one person I know wears it.

Speak of the devil.

Reille Reece is headed my way at a clip, her epic bitch heels tapping out a stern warning that I hear, even if I don’t plan on heeding it. She’s probably nervous that I’ll start something she can’t finish; it’s happened before, which is probably why she keeps tight tabs on me whenever I come ’round.

“Boy, there sure are a lot of slutty women here tonight.” I say, flashing teeth as I turn around, bringing her into my sights. “Oh, Reille, didn’t even see you there.” Then, because I’m a big fan of calling them as I see them, I add, “What I meant to say was… there sure are a lot of slutty women and blatant, gold-digging cum-dumpsters who can’t seem keep their legs closed here tonight. I did wonder why it smelled like fish all of a sudden.”

“Sure that’s not nostalgia?” she counters. “I mean, between London’s gutters and brothels, it might just be a visitation from the Ghost of Whores Past.”

“I told you not to talk about my mother that way,” I say, grinning. “And besides, I’m pretty sure it’s the stench of Whores Present.”

Reille crosses her arms over her chest, waiting for me to make room for her in the hallway, but instead of moving over, I get right in her way. She doesn’t shift over either, so we’re heading for each other in an old-fashioned game of chicken. When our shoulders meet, I make sure it’s hard enough that she bounces off my bicep, heading for a nasty tumble as those heels teeter. She draws in a sharp breath, hands flashing out for anything to stop her fall. I let her flail for a few tenths of a second, but at the last moment, I reach out and snag her up, drawing her against me.

“Careful,” I tell her. “Wouldn’t want to turn an ankle.”

Grudgingly, she starts to say, “Thank y—”

“Harder to twist them behind your neck that way.”

Hot fury rises on her face, a red flush moving over her features like she’s the mercury in a thermometer. I might have caught her off-guard a second ago, but now all that Big Brother, Vamp Hunter training kicks in as she hapkidos her way out of my grasp and practically twists my arm off in the process. Doesn’t matter, don’t care, because I already took what I needed: a vacutainer full of gold, a few precious milliliters of Reille’s blood. I drop the glass tube into my pocket. The tiny injector gun taps cold against my leg through the thin fabric, and it’s about as close to my dick as I ever want everyone’s favorite hoebag to be.

“Jesus, St. John,” she mutters, putting some welcome distance between us as she rubs her arm with one hand. “I think you clawed me with your coke nail.”

“Aw, is that anything to say to one of Scion’s best clients?”

Whatever else she was about to say, Reille clams up real quick, clicking her teeth together hard enough that I actually hear her grinding them. She’s probably standing there reciting some internal mantra…

I will not kill Cas’s best friend. I will not kill—

“Oh, don’t hold back your gorge on my account,” I tell her, resisting the urge to tuck my hands into perfectly-tailored, pinstripe pockets. “Might as well speak your mind. It ain’t gonna stop me from spending my hard-earned money on Scion’s over-inflated goods, and it sure as shit ain’t gonna hurt my feelings none.”

“Maybe because you have no feelings to hurt?”

I put a hand over my chest, crushing the reflective Wayfarers tucked into the open V of my dress shirt. “Right to the heart. No, wait… I think you might be spot-on about this one.” Then I laugh, like being a soulless bloodsucker is funny. “Catch you la’ah, Reille. Keep your nose clean and your legs closed, a’right?”

With a wink and a grin, I head toward the VIP suite. When she doesn’t fire off a parting shot, I get the strangest sensation, and because I know how this whole snatch-and-grab distraction works, I start skimming my hands over my wrists and various pockets. When I’m sure everything is accounted for, I give my head a shake. The eerie sense of having been had sticks with me. Our little collision was just a little too friendly, a mite more amicable than I’m generally used to.

Eh, fuck it. I have better things—and people—to do tonight, as evidenced by the growing throng in the upper VIP deck. The minute I swing through the doorway, I snag a bottle of champagne out of a chiller and raise my voice.

“’Eyo, bitches.” Two shakes and a thumb under the cork yields a fountain of Cristal. “It’s my fuckin’ birthday, motherfuckers.”

There’s a general exclamation, a lot of laughing and jostling as a couple dozen faces all turn my way, women first, because let’s face it, it’s never “bros before hoes” in a room full of hookers and booze. The guys are mine, too, though. Connections and communications, all the friends and yes-men someone could ever want, all the worker bees a guy could ever need. Sharp suits, hot women, all the things that shine up nice in the dim light of Scion’s boojie faux-terior, but I’m the center of attention, and it’s kinda the way I like it.

Don’t let it fool you, though. I am nobody’s blue blood; I’m just really goddamn good at faking it.

In a trice, I’m surrounded by a crowd of people. There are handshakes and back slaps and well-wishes that I take with a good-natured smile.

Hit it and quit it.

“Trick!” One of the girls squeals my name and grips the Cristal bottle, lifting it from my fingers and taking a heavy swig; a second later, she’s sliding long, manicured nails against my scalp and pulling my head down for a champagne kiss. Now, there are vamps out there who can swallow down a few sips of the good stuff, but I’m not one of them, so when her wet mouth opens over mine, I make damn sure she gets all her bubbly back in trade. I just take the wolf whistles and howls, grinning wide and handing her off to the rabid crowd. Props to her for the effort, but anyone who tries to cram a mouthful of human food down my gullet is barking up the wrong fucking tree. She can go the hell home with someone else.

Shoulda just opened a vein, precious. Woulda had a better chance.

“Trick.” Matthias’s voice catches my attention.

I lift an arm as he sidles closer, throwing the heavy limb over his shoulders. People fall away from us; now that I’ve made my grand entrance, it’s back to the women, back to the celebration, because it’s all just one big excuse to throw a party. Hell, it’s not even my real birthday. It’s just a day, the same day every year, except that back in my day, there were too many rats in the gutter to remember each one’s specific date of birth. In all honesty, I’m not sure exactly how old I was when I got changed. Somewhere between thirty and thirty-five, if I had to take a guess. “I thought Xaine fired your ass.”

Matty scowls when he answers. “He did. Had to pay the cover charge to get in tonight.”

“You must have fucked up colossally for Xaine to have even noticed.” Not that I give a shit, but we try to take care of our own, and Matty unceremoniously becoming unemployed is going to cause a ripple in the family pond.

“Don’t look now,” he says, changing the subject, “but they all pitched in again.”

I heave a sigh. “Jesus-ass-Christ. How many of these bitches do I have to fuck before they stop buying me more bitches to fuck?”

Matty grins at me. He’s young and dumb, barely fifty in actual years, just about twenty-five by vamp time. Dark hair and a pretty face, he’s the latest edition to our demented family unit. God only knows where Roman dug him up. Or why, really. He’s not exactly the paragon of success that the rest of us turned out to be. Hell, I’m no winner in the humanities department, but Matty, well, I don’t think I’ve seen him be a winner at a single thing in nearly three decades of knowing his stupid ass.

“Just a thought,” he says, “but maybe if you quit fuckin’ ’em, they’ll quit buyin’ ’em?”

“Hey,” I say, pulling us both up short. “I never turn down free pussy, and I never met a bitch I wouldn’t bang at least once.”

And at least one that I’ve only banged once.

“Then quit’cher’bitchin’ man,” Matty tells me, matter-of-fact for such a little shithead. “I wish someone would buy me a hooker for my birthday.”

I grin and say, “I bought you a hooker last year, remember?”

The look Matty gives me is sour. “That might have been a hooker, but it was also a dude in women’s clothes.”

“She was still hot, and you need to learn to diversify your assets,” I say, but I’m not paying much attention to him anymore. Scanning the crowd, I’m looking-without-looking for the one damn thing that I’m determined to find. It’s easy enough to pick her out, because that head of red stands in pretty heavy contrast to the mostly-monotone of everyone and everything else. She’s propped up against the bar by herself; for some reason, that aloneness tickles a piece of satisfaction inside me. Doesn’t matter, don’t care, she’s free to do what she wants, free to do who she wants, so long as she shows up for the Friday parties. “You can have mine, if you want. Don’t say I never gave you nothin’.”

Except when I cut a glance over at Matty, that little fucker is staring at the same bit of red. As soon as he feels my eyes on him, though, he’s smart enough to clear his throat, avert his gaze, and offer up, “Both of them?”

“Both of what?”

“The women they bought you,” he says. “You said I could have ’em.”

“They bought me two?” I’m actually a little incredulous now. It’s not like I don’t have my own stable of females, women at my beck and call twenty-four-seven. I don’t really need more, except that it’s become something of a tradition, I guess.

“Yeah,” Matty jerks his chin in the direction of the brightly-clad birds leaned up against the bar. These two, they look like hookers, and I start thanking every god whose name I know that I am completely immune to STDs. “So, you takin’ ’em home or what?”

I consider the pair for a second, and that’s apparently a second longer than the extent of Matty’s patience. He stares up at me expectantly, tapping his fingers against his thigh through a pair of dark, fade-wash jeans, fidgeting for all he’s worth.

“Yeah, I guess,” I tell him, although the phrase lacks all the requisite enthusiasm. Seriously, I like to pick my own pussy, but if I reject a gift, someone’s gonna be butt-hurt in the morning. Leaving the hoes for later, I turn my attention to the bros at hand. “Oy, you seen Cas?”

“Yeah,” Matty says, nodding at a table near the railing before he adds, “he’s over there.”

“Of course he is,” I say, because in typical Caspian Declan fashion, he’s isolated himself from everyone else at the party. Here, but not here. Present, but apart. Sitting alone, staring down at the stage like the answers to life are to be found in Xaine’s whiney emo-boy lyrics.

Yeah, when hell freezes over.

“Yo, Declan.” I raise my voice enough to be heard above the general din. The sandy-blond head turns slowly at the sound of his name, one eyebrow raised in question. There’s no definable expression on his face, just the usual vague boredom. “Life of the party as always, I see.”

I’m already moving toward him, pulling the glossy sheaf of bound papers from my back pocket. It’s been rolled into a tube, so when it hits the table with a slap, it doesn’t quite lay flat. But it’s easy to read the title and the topic. Easy to see Xaine’s idiot face grinning a fangy grin from the shiny cover.

Sexiest Man Alive.

“Number two again.” I slide onto the nearest chair, straddling it and propping my forearms on the table’s edge so my piece doesn’t dig into my back. “Everyone loves a rock star, mate. Don’t feel bad, though. You can have one of my hookers if you want.”

Cas gives the tiniest, most aristocratic snort a man can manage. “Two this year?” he says in that dry British drawl of his. “Well, that’s impressive. Your friends, they seem to swing at opposites. This year, it’s two jaded harlots. Last year, it was one barely-legal virgin.”

My gaze flickers sideways again, seeking and finding that bobbing head of too-red curls. It’s the quickest glance, but Caspian Declan doesn’t miss a single thing, ever, so I know he caught it. There’s the barest pull at the corner of his lips; to anyone else, it would look like the beginning of a snarl, but I know him better than that.

“You forgot about the midget three years back,” I remind him, then add, “She was really fucking tight. And she made my dick look huge. I swear I looked like goddamn Godzilla next to her pussy.”

Cas just raises a heavy crystal glass to his lips and offers a slight nod over the rim. “Charming, Patrick, as always.”

There’s a second glass on the table, seemingly untouched. It’s sitting right in front of me and the scent of really expensive Scotch is wafting up in subtle, smoky waves. I stare at the cup for a second, tapping my foot against the floor and scanning the immediate area for clues: no lipstick ring, no stray red hairs, no tacky perfume, no nothing.

At least he didn’t fall off the wagon.

“You gotta hot date?” I say. “’Cause whoever was sitting in my chair left behind a comfy-warm ass divot.”

“Not that it’s any of your business, Goldilocks,” Cas tells me, his face a mask of cool indifference, “but yes, there was a woman sitting in your chair.”

“And she didn’t stay? Wow, mate, you are such a desperate loser.” I grin at him, mostly because we both know that of the two of us, Caspian Declan is most definitely not the loser. In fact, as far as the game of life goes, I’m not sure he’s ever lost at anything.

“She wasn’t my type,” Cas says.

“Yeah, I forgot you like ’em well broken in,” I say. “And while we’re on the subject—”

“No.”

“You haven’t even heard what I’m gonna say!” It comes out a little petulant.

“You’re going to ask me again for a blood sample from Mireille,” he says dryly. “We’ve been through this.”

“But you don’t even know what it could do,” I shoot back. “Look what we did with the other samples. Made millions from one little serum.”

“Reille’s not like the other donor. She’s—” He pauses, thinking, and I lean in close to wait for the answer, but he just finishes with, “volatile.”

True enough.

“Fine,” I say, huffing out a sigh. I don’t like to lie to Cas, but I’ve got the sample already, and I don’t actually need his permission to do what I plan to do with it. “I’ll leave her alone.”

And I will, because it’s a fait accompli as far as I’m concerned, and I have zero desire to lay one more finger on Caspian Declan’s skank of choice.

Cas doesn’t answer, just brings the glass to his lips again and turns his face toward the stage. Xaine’s down there with his newest plaything, a blonde I vaguely recognize from a grainy dossier picture that Cas showed me earlier this year. It takes less than a second for me to bring all the pieces together, my eyes flashing back and forth between my best mate to the girl onstage.

“That’s her, innit?” I say. Cas doesn’t look at me, just gives a nod and drawing in a deep breath that he releases slowly. “Well, that’s just perfect. Does X know?”

“No,” Cas says, his voice a grim monotone. “Not yet.”

The threat is there, though. The unspoken knowledge that if Xaine crosses the line, action will be taken. I would almost feel bad for the guy, except that he’s such a fucking twatwaffle that it’s hard to dig up much in the way of soft feelings for the oldest of Roman’s progeny.

“Do you think he’s cracked her seal yet?”

“Knowing Xaine the way I know Xaine,” Cas says, his countenance clouding over, “he probably didn’t even make it one night before he ‘cracked her seal.’”

“D’ye think he noticed?” I have to ask. “Y’know… that she’s different?”

Cas snorts. “Knowing Xaine the way I know Xaine—”

He repeats the phrase, but cuts off at the end, leaving silence hanging in its own wake. The implication remains, and we both know the truth of it: the Sexiest Man Alive might be the cock of the walk, but he’s still a narcissistic arsehole of the first order. Has been for four hundred years. The one and only time I ever saw him notice anything outside his own vice and desire was…

Elizabeth.

And I’m pretty sure that where X was concerned, she was vice and desire.

“What about the Legacy goons?” I ask, because anything is more cheerful than Cas, Xaine, and their two-hundred-year-old feud. “You heard from them yet?”

Cas’s tiger eyes peel themselves away from the stage, scouring me from head to toe with the sort of slow appraisal one might get from an actual jungle cat. It’s a long moment before he even deigns to answer, and then he only says, “Yes, but thankfully not in regard to Ms. Chase.”

“And?”

“They have no leverage. Nothing that I want. Nothing they can use against me. I have no family that they’re aware of, and my only friends are also on the list of desirables. They wouldn’t destroy you to recruit me. Wouldn’t destroy me to recruit Roman. They want the full set, Patrick: wisdom, money, power, and fame.”

“Spectacles, testicles, wallet, and watch?” I say, then add, “And just in case you were wondering, I’m the testicles.”

“No doubt,” he says, wry as anything.

“What does the Legacy want from you? What are they trying to get?”

Stone cold, those deadly amber irises focus on my face. “I suspect that they’d very much like me to spearhead their political campaign. At least, that’s the impression I got. There’s also my research. I’m days away from achieving FDA approval for the PL-220. Once that happens, it’s worth at least a cool billion to anyone who owns the rights. Not only that, but Declan Corporation owns half the world in one way or another. If they had me, they’d have a foothold everywhere. Allies across every continent. Have they come to you yet?”

“Yeah,” I say, then hesitate for a second, because one face flashes through my mind. One and only one, but it’s the first person my brain reaches for when I start flipping through the mental Rolodex of Leverage. “Same deal. They’ve got nothin’ on me. Found out real quick that I’m not sympathetic to their cause, gave up real quick when they realized they couldn’t coerce me into cooperating. They can meddle in my business affairs, but that would be bloody, fucking stupid. Outing me to the gen pop wouldn’t be in their best interests, either. He who controls the spice, and whatnot.” I tilt back in the chair a bit, cocking my head toward the table on my left, which is littered with narcotic paraphernalia. “Pretty sure they want the rundown on my biz. Every time Sebastard Winters turns up, he’s sniffin’ around the Tranq, asking a fuckton of questions, making jokes about the Colonel’s Secret Recipe. He’s about as subtle as my foot up his arse is gonna be, if he doesn’t fuckin’ chill.”

I mean, I get it. My stuff is hot stuff, streaking through the doll scene quick as a whip, leaving nothing but happy customers and empty grocery shelves in its wake. It’s the bathtub-gin version of the drug Cas is slowly but surely scooting through the FDA; a crystal-clear, super-concentrated, platelet-based pre-bite serum for humans that’s completely, one hundred percent harmless. It takes the edge off the blood-hunger for the vamps and mellows the mortals out faster than Vicodin, Percs, or good ol’ fashioned ganja. It metabolizes out of the system slick as a whistle, though the humans end up with a raging hard-on for pancakes the morning after. Best part of the whole deal? It’s completely mine. I developed the goddamn thing in my lab down south, way south, distilled straight-up from the blood sample Cas passed off to me about a year back.

“Word on the street is that he’s been trying to cook up his own version, but Sebastard is no chemist,” I say. “Or biologist.”

“Unless he knows what to test for,” Cas says, “he’s never going to puzzle it through, but I’d be on the lookout for an imitation nonetheless. Hopefully he won’t kill anyone with whatever cocktail he mixes up. Heaven help us if he manages to figure anything out.”

Which is, frankly, all the more reason to take a closer look at the forbidden fruit in my pocket.

“So, for now it’s an impasse,” Cas adds, “but how long do you think that’s going to last?”

“Forever,” I say with no little confidence. “Don’t rock the boat, and things’ll stay as they are.”

Cas nods his head in the direction of the stage but doesn’t bother to take his eyes off me. “And what exactly, do you call that?”

I shift my attention outward, downward, leaning heavily against the chair back as my ears catch on the music. Below me, past the flashing gel lamps and bobbing sea of bodies, there’s a perfect tableau of dark and light: Xaine and Lourdes Chase. It’s all old news and new news, history versus youthful optimism, ennui and anticipation. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the sort of emotion out of Xaine that he’s displaying now. There’s something there, something more than just blood and fucking, although I have no doubt there’s plenty of that in the mix as well.

“That’s Elizabeth’s song,” Cas’s voice pulls me back. I turn my eyes toward him, but he’s not looking at me, he’s looking at them. “He wrote it for her. It’s like some part of Xaine just knows. Some pathological, subconscious piece—”

“The Sexiest Man Alive piece.” I glance at the magazine on the table between us. “Take what he wants when he wants it and exactly how he wants it, which is usually one of each.” I hesitate a second before adding, “You know he bounced Matty out of here on his ass for running Legacy money through the European clubs.”

“I did hear that,” Cas acknowledges. “I still don’t trust him with anything important.”

“Yeh, but you don’t trust anybody.”

“Indeed, I can count my allies on one hand.”

“I got it down to one finger,” I say, jerking my thumb at my chest. Cas gives me a bland look until I huff and flip him the bird. “Ok, fine, I trust you, too.”

“You should—” But I lose Cas’s attention the second his gaze flickers over my shoulder. All the calm impassivity drains away, and his expression goes blank. Not perfectly stoic, not bored or bemused, just blank.

Sonuvabitch.

Apparently no one told Reille that her ex was in the VIP suite, and now she’s headed toward the bar, checking with the bartender to make sure we’ve popped enough corks to make this worth her while. It isn’t until she turns around that she catches sight of Cas. Then, she stops dead in her tracks. I swear to fuckin’ god, it’s like watching a train wreck, because I’m horrified, but I just can’t look away. It’s the first time they’ve seen each other in a month, and girly’s face goes red as her hair in two seconds flat.

I honestly don’t know whether she’s about to blow a fuse or blush herself into oblivion, but the minute Cas’s arse leaves the chair, I find myself muttering, “Whatever happened to not rocking the boat, mate?”

Or staying on the wagon, for that matter.

Either he doesn’t hear me or he chooses to ignore me, making his way toward her, stride even and rolling. Reille ducks her head and goes to step past him, but he catches her by the elbow, swinging her around and muttering something that I can’t hear, even with my extra-sharp senses. A shadow falls over me as Matty leans across the table, snatching up the untouched tumbler of scotch and tossing it back. He looks like he might vomit for a second, but he manages to gag just the once and school his expression in record time. I think he sometimes forgets that he’s not actually human anymore, although if he weren’t so damn busy chasing after everyone’s else’s greener pastures, he might turn out to be a decent person. Right now, though, he’s just a washed-up Ferris Bueller wannabe, drinking someone else’s expensive scotch, wishing for things he can’t have, and getting one step closer to complete and utter implosion.

He drops into the chair that Cas just vacated, youthful face contorted in disgusted disbelief. “Aren’t you gonna stop him?”

All that gets out of me is a huff of something that’s not really amusement. “You don’t stop Cas Declan, fuckwit. Nothing stops Cas Declan.”

As promised, the fight escalates in seconds. Anger sparks before it ignites, and then Cas has his fingers twined in the bracelet at Reille’s wrist, twisting the silver chain until the links clamp down on her pale skin.

“Well then, aren’t you at least going to help her?” Matty asks, raising his hand to scratch at his temple.

“Nah, there’s no help for her. Reille Reece is a lost cause, my friend. Fang-whore for life.”

“What if Cas kills her?” Matty’s eyes follow me as I rise from my chair, jerking my jacket down and slipping the front buttons through the holes.

“He won’t.”

“How do you know?”

An irritated sigh escapes me, tinged with no little bit of disgust. “Because the fucking sod loves her. That’s why.”

“That doesn’t look like love to me,” Matty says, flicking a sidelong at Cas and Reille.

That gives me pause, and I glare down at Matty until he turns those earnest eyes toward me. He gives a shrug as if to ask what I’m staring at; in return, I give him my best intimidator of a face. I can actually see the moment he starts to doubt himself, throat working, eyes shifting briefly away as if he’s looking for escape.

“And what, exactly,” I say, “do you think love looks like?”

He looks up at me like a damn kid. “I dunno.”

“Precisely.” There’s a flash of silver out of the corner of my eye, but I ignore it. Matty springs from his seat, taking two anxious steps toward the duo at the door. Before he has the chance to take two more, my hand flashes out, palm pressed to his chest. “Leave ’em alone. Cas knows what he’s doing.”

His green eyes shift back and forth, but it only takes a second for him to submit, his gaze hitting the floor as he holds his hands up in surrender. “All right, fine.”

I nod once I’m sure he’s not going to disobey. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go collect my birthday pussy and head home.”

I didn’t lie to Matty; I try not to lie unless I have to. People die for love, people kill for it, people disrupt the status quo for it. Love is a fucking battlefield, and it does crazy things to a man.

Napoleon and Josephine.

Even on his death bed, years after the affairs and lies and abandonment.

Romeo and Juliet.

There’s a manic sort of desperation, a rash impulsiveness that rules all thought.

Caesar and Cleopatra.

It defies all logic, ignores all opposition, makes no fuckin’ sense.

My life is simple: make the drugs, run the drugs, sell the drugs, launder the money. Shmooze the traffickers, play the facade, and whatever else happens? No fucking attachments. No family, no females, no friends who can’t take a few bullets to the face. I always carry a gun. I watch where I’m going. And I stay alert every single second of every day.

I love my life; it’s an adrenaline junkie’s wet dream.

“’Allo, ladies.” Sidling up between my matching bookends for this evening, I grin as I squeeze myself into their collective cleavage. Flinging my arms over their shoulders, I lead Carla and Starla away from the bar. They’ve got enough liquor in them that they’re giggling like idiots before we even hit the doorway. “Who’s up for a rousing game of Rainbow? First girl to make my dick look like a candy cane gets to ride it.”

Yup, I’m good with things just as they are. Love is a bloody fucking mess.

Heloise and Abelard.

Not worth losing my cock over.

Ever.

 

[end excerpt]

 

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