Sunday, April 30, 2017


~ Prague ~
Part Five
Vitki knew Ivo had questions, reservations, and he wished he could answer them all. He just couldn't. That wasn't his place. The urge to wrap his fingers around Max's throat was riding him hard. It was too bad the man was already dead.
All of this should have been explained to Ivo before he even left the United States. The council should have sent an envoy at the very least. Ivo was walking into this blind, and from what Vitki had been able to put together, the man had no idea their world even existed.
Vitki pulled Ivo to a stop when Yuval hurried up to them. "Report."
"The way ahead is blocked."
Vitki raised an eyebrow. "Blocked?"
"I spotted at least three shooters in the trees surrounding the gate."
"More shooters?" Ivo turned when Vitki nodded, heading back the way they'd come.
"Where are you going?" Vitki asked.
Ivo paused and turned, a scowl on his handsome face. "I've had it with all this danger crap. If this is what being rich is like, Max can keep his damn money."
Ivo started to walk again. Vitki growled and went after the man. "You came here to bury Max, remember?"
"You said he's already here. My job is done. See you around, Vitki," Ivo said without looking back at him.
"He's really going?" Yuval asked. "But it's dangerous."
"Him, I like," Miro said with a snicker.
Vitki gave a growl as he hurried after Ivo. "You can't go into the forest alone, Ivo. I already told you it is dangerous."
"And so is being around you guys. I'll take my chances with bears and lions, or even a deer at this point."
Vitki reacted out of instinct when he heard the crack of a rifle. He slammed into Ivo, taking the man down. He pressed his chest into Ivo's back as Yuval and Miro returned fire.
So much for sneaking Ivo into the estate.
* * * *
"This is exactly what I'm talking about!" Ivo yelled from beneath Vitki, his terror tangible. "Get the hell off of me so I can get out of here."
"Standing will only make you a target." Vitki's words were spoken so close to Ivo's ear that a shiver raced through him. As dire as the situation was, Ivo couldn’t help but squirm under Vitki's weight. When was the last time he'd had a lover? It was sad that Ivo had to really think about it and even sadder when he couldn’t remember.
Vitki's scent filled Ivo's lungs. It was warm, masculine, and made Ivo's cock hard. He squirmed again. He just wasn't sure if it was to get away or get closer.
"Lie still," Vitki growled into his ear, but Ivo detected the note of need in his voice.
The attraction was mutual and why on earth was Ivo thinking about this right now? There were snipers in the tree who were probably aiming their scopes at him at this very moment. Ivo should be worried about dying, not getting laid.
"Then get off of me." He bucked, but Vitki didn't move an inch. The only thing Ivo managed to do was rub his butt against Vitki's cock.
Which had grown hard.
Ivo struggled to turn over so he could push Vitki off of him. As he spun, their lips brushed. Vitki leaped off Ivo so fast that, for a second, Ivo thought the man had been shot. He stared down at Ivo with a shocked expression.
"Now you're a target," Ivo said.
"That is my job." Vitki jabbed a finger at Ivo. "Stay down."
Ivo watched Vitki walk away, and damn if the sight of Vitki's backside wasn't enjoyable. But now Ivo was confused. He knew he had felt the intense attraction between them. So why did Vitki act like his lips had touched a rattlesnake's?
"Come." Miro moved toward Ivo. "We take secret way."
"There's a secret way?" Ivo got up, ready to scream his fool head off. "Then why didn’t we take that way to begin with?"
Miro grinned. "Is secret."
Ivo would learn to shut his mouth. Ten minutes later he learned why. He still couldn’t believe he had let Vitki talk him into entering the sewer system. Things Ivo would rather not think about grew along the walls. Rats scurried past his feet. And the smell? Ivo had to concentrate not to vomit.
The tunnels twisted and turned in every direction. If Ivo had to use this way to get out of the estate, he would be utterly screwed. There was no way he would remember the way back to the forest. He kept close to Vitki. Not only did the tunnels creep Ivo out, but so did the shadows.
He kept expecting a shooter to jump out at any second and nail him with a bullet to the head.
Vitki led the way. Yuval and Miro were behind Ivo. At one point they had to walk through murky, stinking water. Ivo would have to shower with a scouring pad by the time they made it to the estate.
If they ever made it. At this point, it looked doubtful.
Vitki stopped in front of a thick, metal grate. Ivo didn’t see a way past it. "Is this a dead end?"
"Yuval, take Ivo to the end of this tunnel."
Ivo's brows shot up. "Why does he have to take me back the way we came? Why aren't you coming, too?"
Vitki sighed. "Please, we must hurry. I don’t have time to explain."
"You say that a lot," Ivo complained as he followed Yuval. He spun when he heard metal creaking, but Yuval quickly stepped into Ivo's line of sight.
"No looking."
Was the guy serious? Ivo moved past Yuval and headed back to Vitki. His jaw dropped when the metal grate looked as if it had been melted on one side. "What the...?"
"We must hurry." Vitki stepped through the gate.
Ivo just stood there gaping at the molted metal. Something definitely was going on here, and it wasn't just men shooting at him. Ivo felt as if he had stepped into the Twilight Zone.
* * * *
Vitki was relieved when he finally got Ivo to his room. The fact that Ivo had seen Vitki melt the metal bars to get them there didn't upset him as much as it should have. Ivo would soon find out the truth anyway.
It just wasn’t the way Vitki would have liked to show Ivo their world.
"Are we going to ignore the elephant in the room?" Ivo asked, refusing to step inside the bedroom. "You melted thick metal, Vitki. No man can do that. And don’t tell me you used a damn lighter."
"I am not the one who will explain things to you." And that didn’t sit right with Vitki. Max should have been the one or Vitki should have had permission to give Ivo full disclosure. But instead, Ivo stood in the hallway, still clueless.
"You promised," Ivo gave the needless reminder.
"I did not say I would be the one explaining things to you, merely that things would be explained. Now go inside and rest." Vitki grabbed Ivo's hand and led him into the room.
Ivo glanced around. "Three of my apartments could fit in here." He spun, his gaze flickering all over the place. "I feel like I've stepped into a five-star hotel."
If he only knew. Ivo would want for nothing. That was, unless one of the council members didn’t try to have him assassinated first. Vitki wouldn't put it past one of them to be behind the attempts already made on Ivo's life.
It wasn't Vitki's place to question them, but damn if he didn’t want to march into their chambers and throttle each and every one of them. Knowing how underhanded and cutthroat they could be, Vitki had handpicked Ivo's bodyguards with men he trusted with his life.
The guards of the castle were corrupt, and Vitki wouldn't trust any of them to fetch a glass of water, let alone guard the rightful heir to the throne.
Coming soon...(and by soon, I mean approx. June 8th or so)

Saturday, April 29, 2017


~ Prague ~
Part Four
They weren't running through the woods, but they might as well be. Ivo had run out of useable oxygen quite some time back. He was panting heavily as he tried to keep up with Vitki's swift pace.
What was he? A gazelle?
The whole darkness thing was disconcerting too. It wasn't pitch black out, but the trees were so thick, it might as well be. Add in the uphill climb and the boulders and fallen trees they kept having to dodge and Ivo was pretty sure he was going to collapse down on the ground at any moment.
Ivo didn't understand why it was so damn important for them to reach the estate before the sun went down. He didn't know why they didn't stay back at the cars and just wait for help to arrive. Surely someone would go looking for them when they didn't arrive at the estate.
"How much farther?"
"We're about half way there, Ivo," Vitki called out over his shoulder, although his tone was low as if he was afraid someone would overhear him.
Ivo wondered who? They were in the middle of nowhere.
And they were only half way? That was insane. Ivo was positive they had been walking for hours. It certainly felt like hours. The next fallen long Ivo came to, he promptly sat down. He didn't care if they left him behind. He wasn't moving another step until he could catch his breath.
He shook his head when Yuval and Miro stopped and looked at him. He tried to wave the guys on. He could always catch up, somehow.
When they shook their heads, Ivo rolled his eyes and climbed to his feet. he glanced farther up the hill where Vitki was. With a groan, Ivo started after the man. He didn't mind being in the woods. Loved it in fact. It was much nicer than concrete and skyscrapers.
It was the fast pace that was dragging him down.
Ivo would have liked to think he was in pretty good shape, but he was starting to wonder. Miro, Yuval, and Vitki weren't even breathing hard and Ivo was ready to pass the hell out. Maybe living in the city where there was a taxi or subway on every block had made him soft.
"Vitki," Miro called out, "we rest, da?"
Oh, thank god.
When Vitki stopped and looked back, Ivo collapsed against the closest tree. He rested his hands on his knees and bent over, drawing in several deep breaths until he could breathe without feeling like his lungs were going to cave in.
"I don't know how you do these things," Ivo said without lifting his head. "I didn't think it would be this hard to walk through the woods." He raised his head and looked at the two bodyguards. "But I bet I could beat your butt in the city."
"Of course," Yuval replied. "We expect nothing less from our kr—"
Yuval's eyes snapped farther up the hill.
"Scout ahead."
"Yes, sir." Yuval immediately took off, trudging up the hill.
When he went to pass Vitki, the man grabbed his arm. Ivo frowned when Vitki leaned closer and whispered something too low for him to say. he knew it was about him. Yuval paled before glancing back at him. He gave a curt nod before taking off into the trees, disappearing from sight almost immediately.
"What was that all about?" Ivo asked.
"Is not known to me," Miro replied.
"You don't get out much, do you?"
"Is true." There was a slight lifting of Miro's eyebrow, as if he was curious about my question. "Duty here. I here."
"Yeah, I figured as much." Ivo frowned as he glanced back up the hill. "Does anyone have any water?"
"Is small spring over hill."
Ivo blew out a breath. "Okay." He started up the hill, pausing when he reached Vitki. "How much farther?"
Vitki lifted his face into the air and breathed so deeply, Ivo could hear it. "We are approximately eight point three miles from the gates of the estate."
Well, that was rather exact, wasn't it.
The nose breathing thing was a little weird, though.
"Is not far," Miro said. "You—" He frowned as if thinking hard, then glanced at Vitki. "Jak říkáte, že dokážeš to?"
Vitki smiled. "Miro has faith in you, Ivo. He says you can make it."
"I'm glad one of us does," Ivo mumbled under his breath.
Ivo kept walking, putting one foot in front of the other. He made promise after promise to himself as he trudged through the woods. Just five more steps and he could rest. Maybe another five, and then five after that. Just a little farther.
He didn't realize he had crested the ridge until he could suddenly see each foot he put down. Ivo paused and glanced up, sucking in his breath when he saw the moonlit valley below him.
The mountains surrounded the valley in every direction, cold and dark, covered in trees. But the valley, it was dotted with houses and farms with all roads leading up to a tall stone looking wall surrounding a large structure.
"Is that a castle?" It didn't have Cinderella steeples or anything, but it was massive and old. Even from where Ivo stood, he could see that it was clearly made of stone.
"It is the Vítkovský Klan home," Vitki replied. "It was build in 1376 by Petre Vítkovský. Each new generation has added to it until it is what you see before you."
"It's so dark and cold, and yet strangely beautiful." Ivo was a little bit in awe of the place.
"Yes." Vitki nodded his agreement. "Our history is a long one. Around the eighth century, a band of Celts settled around Prague. As time went by, they formed a klan that eventually became what we are today."
Ivo gasped as he glanced at Vitki. "That long?
"According to legend, a woman named Libuše founded the city of Prague in the 8th century. It is said that she was the wisest of three sisters. Her sister Kazi could heal even the gravest of wounds. Her sister Teta could command the elements, and Libuše herself was a seer. Kazi traveled to the north and settled along the German border. Teta traveled east, settling in this valley. We are of her line."
"Wow. It's amazing that you know that." He could trace his heritage back to an apartment in New York City. Beyond that, he knew his parents came from the Czech Republic, and this area from what Vitki said. That was pretty much it.
Vitki smiled as he glanced down at Ivo. "Our history is very important to us."
"I could see how it would be." Another thought filtered into Ivo's brain, one that kind of creeped him out. "Don't you guys worry about inbreeding?"
Vitki's eyebrows rose. "Inbreeding?"
"Well, yeah. You keep talking about how you've been here for centuries, and that place is really not that big. I figure you would run out of eligible people to breed after awhile. Everyone would be related."
Vitki chuckled as if amused by what Ivo said. "Remember that I said your mother came from a klan to the north?"
Ivo nodded.
"We intermingle with klans all over the world. Many of our people move to the city. Some stay and raise families there. Others come home after awhile, sometimes with family, sometimes not. There is no law that states someone must stay here. The option to leave is always open."
"Oh." Now Ivo felt embarrassed that he had ever assumed there was a problem. "The way you were talking about this place, it sounded like no one ever leaves."
"Some do, some don't. It is a personal choice."
Ivo gazed back down to the low lit valley before. If the moon hadn't been shining, only the lights in the windows of buildings below would have given him any indication that anyone even lived there.
"I don't understand why anyone would want to leave. It's beautiful." And so different than anything Ivo had ever seen outside of a movie or magazine.
"Maybe you will decide to stay."
Ivo glanced quickly at Vitki. "Here?"
Vitki's grin changed his face and made him seem so much more handsome. "Da."
With a smile like that, Ivo knew he'd agree with just about anything Vitki said. He smiled back, a feeling of light heartedness filling him. "Maybe."
"We need to go. When the sun comes back up tomorrow, I will show you the valley. You will see such beauty, you will never think of leaving again."
"I'd like that."
A weird glint came into Vitki's eyes, but it was gone before Ivo could figure out what it was.
"Come, we must get going. We still have a lot of area to cover before we reach home."
Ivo wasn't sure about the whole "home" thing. His home was a small apartment back in New York City. It wasn't some strange and mysterious castle in the middle of a valley in a foreign country.
Until he saw Max's body settled in his homeland, nothing else seemed important. That was why he was here anyway. As intriguing as Vitki's assertion that he should stay sounded, Ivo would put that aside until he did what he came here to do, and then he would consider changing his entire life.
Going down the hill into the valley was a lot easier than climbing it had been. Ivo felt less tired and out of breath. Strangely enough, he even felt more invigorated the closer they got to the lights looming in the distance.
By the time the ground leveled out, the exhaustion Ivo had felt on the other side of the mountain was almost a distant memory. He was a little uneasy with how refreshed he actually felt.
"What is it about this place?" he mumbled as he glanced around.
"What was that, Ivo?" Vitki asked.
"It's weird. I was so tired by the time we topped the mountain and now I feel great."
"Do you?"
"Yeah." Ivo shook out his arms. The energy running through them was actually a little off-putting. He had felt this in the past, but only after drinking three shots of espresso back to back. "I feel like I could run the Boston Marathon."
"The exhilaration you feel comes from returning to the land of your birth."
"Is that why Max asked me to bring him home?"
"In a sense. The land will welcome him back, her rich soil giving him a peace he could not have found the your New York City."
Okay, this was just sounding weirder and weirder by the moment.
"We're talking soil here, right? Real soil?" Ivo was confused about Vitki's wording, but maybe he meant laying Max to rest where he was born.
"It is so much more than mere soil, Ivo. It is the people, the trees, the rivers, the bees who pollinate our flowers and crops. It is everything that is the Vítkovský Klan homeland."
Ivo really had no idea what Vitki was talking about, but he sure said it with pretty words. "I can't wait until daylight comes and you can show it to me."
"There is a lot to see, Ivo. It will take more than a day."
"Oh." The smiled fell from my lips. "I'm only supposed to be here for a couple of days."
Ivo hadn't resolved things with his work or anything. Things were too new. Mr. Berkshire assured him that he never had to work another day in his life, but that just didn't seem reasonable. People didn't just suddenly inherit hundreds of millions of dollars.
Well, except Ivo.
He still wasn't sure if this was real. For all he knew, he had fallen and hit his head and was in some sort of medically induced coma where the dreams were really fantastic.
Things like this really just did not happen to people.
"We're almost there, Ivo." Vitki waved his hand forward. "You can see the lights through the trees there."
Ivo could. The closer they got, the brighter the lights shined. "Do they know we're coming?"
"But wouldn't Max's body have arrived by now?"
"Yes, but no one knows you have accompanied him. It is safer this way."
A cold knot formed in Ivo's gut. "Why? Why should anyone care?"
"You are now a very powerful man, Ivo. There are those who will want to weld that power for themselves."
"You know, except for that nice ride in the jet, I haven't seen the draw of having all this money. Every time I turn around, someone is warning me that I can no longer trust anyone."
"You can trust me," Vitki insisted.
"But how do I know that?" Ivo asked. "I don't know you. Max never mentioned you. You're just someone Mr. Berkshire introduced me to, and I don't even know if I can trust him." Ivo tossed his hand up in the air, exasperated. "I don't know who to trust."
Ivo blinked when Vitki grabbed him by the arms. "You can trust me, Ivo."
"How am I supposed to believe that?" Ivo felt something thick in his throat. "Anyone can say that."
"I have no way to prove to you that you can trust me, Ivo, merely my word."
Ivo frowned, not knowing if that was good enough.
He jerked back when he felt something wet land on his cheek. He reached up and wiped it away with his finger. "What—"
"It's starting to rain, Ivo."
I glanced up, blinking rapidly when several water drops landed on my face. "The moon was out just a minute ago."
Now it was all dark clouds.
"It happens that way sometimes. One minute it's totally clear out and you can see the moon or the sun, and the next it's overcast and raining," Vitki said. "The Krkonose Mountains are as dangerous as they are beautiful."
"Then why live here?"
Vitki winked at Ivo. "It's beautiful."
Ivo was finding that many things that were beautiful were dangerous, much like the man he was staring at. Vitki was beautiful to look at, earth shattering beautiful, but there was an aura about him that put him firmly in the hazardous category.
Ivo didn't know if that made him trustworthy or not, and he was afraid to find out. He didn't think he could handle it if Vitki turned out to be someone he couldn't trust. His world was already going topsy turvey, and there was only so much he could take before he broke.
Ivo was starting to wish Max had never left him an inheritance. It just wasn't worth it.
To be continued...


Battle Bunnies 1
As a Battle Bunny, honed in the fires of hell, Bailey fights every day just to function. Blind since birth, the skills he learned to protect himself keep him alive, but nothing can protect him from the mate he discovers on a rescue mission.
Battle Bunnies 2
Baxter is pierced in places that make life interesting, as snarky as they come, and so lonely his heart screams out for someone to simply acknowledge his existence. When someone does, Bax feels as though he has to fight everyone, including his own brothers, to keep the man that speaks to his soul.
Battle Bunnies 3
The middle bunny of five, Beaumont has grown used to going unnoticed. When a stranger with piercing black eyes arrives at the mansion, his world is turned upside down, and Beau has to decide if being seen is all he dreamed it would be.
Battle Bunnies 4
Barclay knows he's going to die. He makes the ultimate sacrifice by refusing to mate with his sweet duck. African Buffalo, Tavarus, sees things a bit differently, and he has the strength to back up his opinion. For Barclay, losing control never felt so good.
Battle Bunnies 5
Basil is the last unmated Battle Bunny, but there's a reason. The tiger stalking him is his mate, and Basil has known it for years. As strong as the mate draw is, Basil doesn't know if he can trust the handsome tiger.

Friday, April 28, 2017


~ Prague ~
Part Three
Vitki resisted the urge to brush the hair back from Ivo's forehead. The man's head rested back against the bench seat, his mouth hanging slightly open as he slept. Ivo hadn't even made it to the city limits before he was out cold.
Vitki couldn't blame him. Ivo had a very eventful day., Hell, the last few days had been eventful. Vikti just prayed Ivo was strong enough for what was to come, because it was only get worse from here on out.
The life Ivo had known was over. Besides the fact that the man now controlled hundreds of millions of dollars, the world he was about to enter was one only talked about in hushed tones.
Maxmilián had to have been insane to keep all of this from Ivo. The man was totally unprepared for what he was about to face. Vitki felt an overwhelming need to spirit the man away to someplace safe where the world couldn't intrude on them.
He knew that came from the longing.
Max had to have known as well. Vitki had never visited the small apartment Max stayed in to watch over Ivo, but he knew of Ivo. How could he not? He had know the moment Ivo was born, felt it in his soul.
Now, here he was.
Vitki didn't know what Max had been thinking putting Ivo into his care. The man had to know the no matter how hard the longing rode him, he could never act upon it. Vitki was common class, and Ivo was not. Vitki barely had the right to breathe the same air as the man. Dreaming of more could be considered blasphemous.
Vitki knew his duty. Protecting Ivo and insuring he was granted everything he desired didn't cover coveting the man. That was a secret Vitki would take to his grave. Vitki would see to it that Ivo got everything he wanted out of life, while standing in the background.
Longing or not, that was his fate.
Life had been a hard lesson for him. He would insure it was not so for Ivo. That's what he could give to the man. That was the only thing he could give to the man besides his protection and guidance.
As Ivo's personal bodyguard, Vitki had total authority over the man's personal safety. His voice would be heard above all others except Ivo's, and Vitki was pretty sure the man would follow his lead when danger presented itself.
It was the other things in Ivo's life that Vitki worried about. Once they reached the Klan estate and Ivo was announced, his life would no longer be his own. His word would be law, but he lived for the Klan from that moment on. Vitki prayed the man was strong enough to fulfill his own destiny.
Vitki glanced to the front of the vehicle before allowing himself one small touch, stroking his finger over the top of Ivo's hand. The man's skin was soft. He knew from Ivo's file that he worked as a grocery clerk during the day and took college courses at night. He might work a hard labor job, but he wasn't unused to hard work.
Still, the silky skin surprised Vitki.
When Ivo murmured and moved in his seat, Vitki quickly pulled his hand back. Except for matters of safety, he wasn't allowed to touch Ivo. No one was. Vitki could already tell that was going to drive Ivo insane, but laws were laws and they were in place for a reason, even ancient ones that hadn't moved into the current century.
Still, Vitki couldn't help returning Ivo's smile when the man's eyes opened and his lips spread wide. "Did you get enough sleep?"
"I think it's the time change."
Vitki pressed his lips together to keep from groaning when Ivo sat up and stretched, his cotton shirt spreading tightly across his tone chest. Mr. Berkshire had tried to convince Ivo to make a quick shopping trip to purchase appropriate clothing for the trip, but Ivo wouldn't hear of it. he firmly stated that his wardrobe was just fine the way it was.
He was going to set the Klan on its ear.
Vitki couldn't wait.
The Klan was too set in the old ways, the old laws. They needed to be shaken up a bit. The world was passing them by because most of the older members refused to live in the here and now. They stuck to the old ways with a vengeance.
That worried Vitki. Some members of the Klan could be vicious. Hell, most of the Klan could be vicious. If they felt their way of life was being threatened, Vitki wasn't even sure the old laws would prevent one of them from attacking Ivo.
Max must have felt the same way if he tasked Vitki to keeping Ivo safe. Their Klan members were what others whispered about in the dark. Vitki was the one Klan members whispered about in the dark. He was the right hand of the Král, the king. He was the Dýka, the dagger that sought vengeance.
He wasn't a babysitter, but for Ivo, he would be. And as Max had ordered, Vitki would watch over Ivo until he took his last breath. It was an undertaking that would last a lifetime.
"Are we there yet?"
Vitki drew himself from his deep thoughts to look at Ivo. The man was staring out the tinted window into the darkening countryside. "We'll be there soon, another twenty minutes or so."
"It's beautiful country."
"It is." Vitki loved the area surrounding their homeland. The trees were thick this high up in the mountains, lush and thick and green. Wildlife ran freely through the woods, human and animal alike. "We are actually on family land now."
Ivo's head swung around. "Really?"
Vitki nodded. "The Vítkovský Klan has been around for centuries. As you can imagine, we have obtained a lot of land in that time."
The wrinkle that appeared between Ivo's dark brown eyebrows intrigued Vitki. "My name is Koubek, not Vítkovský. I'm not part of your clan."
Vitki wished Max was still around so he could strangle the man. Nothing had been explained to Ivo, not one damn thing. Since he couldn't strangle Max, Vikti smiled at Ivo. "You are now."
Ivo's frown deepened, creasing his forehead even more. "Are you sure that's how it works? I inherited Max's money, not his family."
Oh, if only he knew.
"Max made you the beneficiary of his entire estate. That means everything, even his family connections."
"I'm not sure that's how it works."
"Trust me, it does."
And then some.
Ivo stared for a moment as if digesting what Vitki said, and then he turned and looked out the window again. Vitki wanted to say more, but hesitated to. he wasn't sure what he could handle and what he couldn't. He suspected Ivo had a strong will, but he had nothing to base his belief on.
"My parents are from around here somewhere." Ivo glanced over his shoulder. "Id' really like to see where they grew up and where I was born. Would it be possible to find out where and go see it?"
Vitki's eyebrows rose. "You don't know?"
Ivo shook his head. "They didn't like discussing the old country much."
"Ivo, you and your parents are from the Vítkovský Klan. This is where you were born."
Ivo stared for a moment before a burst of laughter shot out of his mouth. "You're pulling my leg."
"I am not. You were born in a small cottage not far from the main manor house. Your father is of the Vítkovský Klan. Your mother is from a klan farther north. She joined the Vítkovský Klan when they married."
"Why did they never tell me?"
Vitki didn't have an answer to that. Ivo should have been told as soon as he was able to understand who he was.
"Why didn't Max tell me?" Ivo asked. "He had to know."
Vitki winced. "Yes, I imagine he did."
Ivo went silent after that, turning back to stare out the window. He seemed so forlorn, Vikti reached over and patted his shoulder. "There is much we can tell you of your parents once we reach home."
Ivo's whisper was almost silent. "I'm not sure I want to know about people who lie to me."
Vitki drew in a breath and then let it out slowly. He could understand Ivo's anger. So many things had been withheld from him, things that should have been explained to him as soon as he could understand them.
Vitki's stomach knotted as he realized he was also keeping things from the man, but he didn't have a choice. He had been sworn to secrecy until they arrived home. The danger to Ivo was ever present. Until he was behind the walls of the estate, Vitki would have to hold his tongue.
Vitki should have been prepared for the vehicle that slammed into the side of the car. he should have been prepared for anything. Except he wasn't. His mind had been on what Ivo was going through instead of protecting Ivo.
He was still able to grab Ivo and wrap his arms around him, protecting his head as their car slid across the road and hit a tree with a sickening crunch and a shower of glass. The shaking of the car had barely stopped before he pushed Ivo down and pulled his gun, pointing it at the armed men advancing on them.
Pulling the trigger was easy. Listening to Ivo's screams was not. It was a sound that never should have left Ivo's lips, and one Vitki never wanted to hear again. There was so much fear, and some pain. He pulled the trigger again—blowing out some guy's kneecap—just because he could.
When all of the men who had advanced on their position were down, Vitki unbuckled his seatbelt and then reached for Ivo's. He didn't like the idea that Ivo was between him and the guys with the guns, even if they were down on the ground, withering in pain.
"Yuval, Miro, are you hurt?" he called out to the men in the front seat of the car. He didn't want to take his eyes off of the men on the ground.
"Miro has broken his arm, sir, but we are mobile."
"Question them. Miro can take what he needs from them."
"Yes, sir."
Vitki returned his attention to Ivo, although he had never fully taken it off. "Ivo? Are you hurt?" Vitki looked him over, searching for signs of injury.
"No, I think I'm okay." Ivo shook his head, bits of glass shards flying free.
Vitki ran his fingers through Ivo's hair just to be sure all the glass had shaken free. He might have lingered a little longer than he should have, but touching Ivo was a delight in itself. Making sure there was no more glass in the man's hair was just an added bonus.
"Okay, we need to get out of this car, and we're going to have to climb out the back. My side is pinned against a tree and the other car is crushed into your side. The back is the only way out."
Ivo nodded. "I can do that."
"You must put your trust in me and listen to every word I say. If I tell you to run, you run. Don't look back. Don't stop. Just run. Is this understood."
Eyes wide, Ivo nodded again.
"Good man." Vitki patted Ivo's arm before climbing over the seat. The back was open, Miro standing there holding his arm to his chest. "Have you taken care of your arm?"
Miro nodded. "Yes, sir. It's just a tad tender now." He nodded to the far side of the scene. "Yuval is questioning the men who tried to drive us off the road now."
"Go help him. I have Ivo."
"Yes, sir." Miro gave a curt nod and moved off.
Vitki climbed out of the open hatch and then turned and reached back for Ivo. "Come."
Ivo climbed over the seat just as Vitki had before taking his hand and scooting the remainder of the way out of the back of the vehicle. His legs wobbled a bit when he finally stood. Vitki quickly grabbed onto his arm to steady him.
"You okay there, Ivo?"
"Yeah, I've just never been in a car accident before." Ivo smiled weakly. "I guess I am a little unsteady on my feet."
This was no accident. Vitki just didn't know if this was the right time to tell Ivo. He didn't think the man had realized all that had occurred yet.
He would.
"You will be fine." Vitki turned toward the other side of the small open area where they were. He appreciated the fact that Yuval was questioning the ones who hit them on the far side of the vehicle. There were some things Ivo did not need to see until everything had been explained to him in a calm, secure enjoinment.
This wasn't it.
"They know nothing, sir," Yuval said as he walked up. "They are merely hired muscle. They received a phone call, a deal was struck, and money was transferred into their account, half now, half when the job is done. They never met whoever hired them."
Vitki suspected as much. Those of the Vítkovský Klan would attack head on, not use subterfuge and thugs. "Secure them. We will send someone back for them once we reach the estate."
"Yes, sir."
Vitki waited until Yuval walked away before turning to Ivo. "The estate is still a good twenty miles from here. We have to hike it and it's going to be nothing but trees, darkness, and the possibility that there are others out there hunting us. Can you handle that?"
Ivo drew in a heavy breath before nodding. "I can keep up."
"We'll be moving fast."
"I grew up on the streets of New York, Vitki. I can make it through your forest."
Vikti's one concern was that Ivo truly did not understand the danger surrounding them. The monsters Max had regaled him with as he grew up were real.

coming May 25th
[Erotic, Paranormal, Shifter, M/M, Romance]
My name is Bob. It's just Bob. Not even Robert or Roberto or anything as exciting as that. It's just Bob. Bob Mills. It's not a fancy name or a name that inspires great romantic tales. No one writes odes to Bob. No one screams Bob during great heights of passion. There are no great masterpieces with Bob as the main character. I can't even think of any fictional characters named Bob.
To make matters worse, I'm an accountant and I wear glasses. I own a cat. I have a library card and I actually use it. If the karmic universe could have crapped on someone, I was it.
Exciting, right?
Yeah, no. There is nothing exciting in my life.
That all changed when someone put a contract out on my life.
My name is Bob. It's just Bob. Not even Robert or Roberto or anything as exciting as that. It's just Bob. Bob Mills. It's not a fancy name or a name that inspires great romantic tales. No one writes odes to Bob. No one screams Bob during great heights of passion. There are no great masterpieces with Bob as the main character. I can't even think of any fictional characters named Bob.
There were times I wanted to smack my parents for naming me Bob. I wasn't even named after someone. They just picked the name out of the air and slapped me with a lifetime of mundane and boring.
To make matters worse, I'm an accountant and I wear glasses. I own a cat. I have a library card and I actually use it. If the karmic universe could have crapped on someone, I was it.
Exciting, right?
Yeah, no. There is nothing exciting in my life.
I get up in the morning, shower, eat breakfast, dress, go to work, keep my mouth shut when I have to deal with idiots—which happens more often than you would think—and then I come home, make dinner, read a book or watch TV, and I got to bed only to wake up in the morning to do it all over again.
On the weekends, I break up the monotony by cleaning my house, going to the library to get new books to read, and pick up groceries for the following week. Oh, and every Sunday, I have dinner with my parents.
And if that wasn't enough, I was gay. Being boring in looks and character, my vast experience with sex consisted of one night with a drunken frat boy who was horrified the next day when he woke up and discovered me in his bed.
We never spoke again.
So, yeah, I was cursed at birth with the name Bob and my life has never gotten any better.
Hence, when a man dressed all in black walked into the coffee shop where I was having my break, I didn't think anything of it. I mean, it wasn't like he was there for me or anything.
This was a man with a name like Lance or Sebastian. Maybe Rodrigo.
A sexy name.
He'd never get called Bob.
I do admit, I did stare. I know it was a bit rude, but I couldn't help it. If ever there was a more imposing man ever born, I had never seen him. Crowds parted and crap, people quickly stepping out of his way as he strode straight to the front of the line of people waiting to order coffee.
One man was dumb enough to say something about the man cutting the line. Boy, I was glad it hadn't been me. The spectacular example of genetics didn't say anything. He didn't have to. He just looked at the man who had spoken up until the guy turned and hurried out of the coffee shop.
I chuckled under my breath and went back to reading my book...or at least staring at the pages in between shooting the handsome man quickly glances under my lashes.
He really was pretty. Not runway model pretty, but more "make you scream as he fucked you against a wall" pretty. God, I would love for him to fuck me against a wall.
I wasn't stupid enough to think it would ever happen.
He was probably as straight as they came. Anyone stupid enough to even suggest the guy might be gay would probably end up dead. He looked dangerous enough to shoot someone and not even break a sweat doing it.
The sigh that I let free came from deep within my soul. I was lonely. I admit that right up front. I had been on a couple of dates in my twenty-five years, but they had all been blind dates and I never got invited out for a second date.
Don't get me wrong. I didn't think I was a dog or anything. My mother always said that my brown eyes reminded her of Hershey kisses. I kept my short brown hair neatly trimmed in the latest style. I bathed regularly.
That was a plus.
You wouldn't believe how many people didn't bathe regularly. It was an astonishing number. It was also gross. Why wouldn't you bathe as often as possible?
I didn't understand some people.
Anyway, I'm getting off topic here. I'm what my mother always said was cute and sweet.
No one ever wanted to be referred to as cute and sweet unless you were four.
I wasn't.
I wasn't too fat or too thin. I wasn't too short or too tall. My eyes were brown. Not bright brown or dark chocolate brown—despite what my mother said—just brown. My hair was brown too, not dark chestnut brown or light honey brown. Just brown. Mouse brown.
Hell, I even had freckles over a large majority of my body.
There was nothing spectacular about me.
What I wouldn't give to be sexy. Just once. Just for an hour or so. Just long enough for someone as sexy as "Lance" saw me. Like, really saw me.
I wouldn't turn down a kiss either.
Oh well, it was what it was. My life wasn't going to suddenly turn exciting just because I wished it. I was positive. I had been wishing since I figured out what my dick was for.
"Is this seat taken?"
I knew my mouth was hanging open when I glanced up, but I couldn't help it. Mr. Gorgeous was standing right in front of my small table, asking if he could sit down. Damn. Up close he was even sexier. Even the scar that ran over his left eye from above his eyebrow to his cheek added a rakish look to him.
"Is this seat taken?" he asked again.
My cheeks heated as I shook my head. I watched with a sense of astonishment as the man sat down, placing his cup of coffee and a newspaper on the table in front of him. I peeked up at him again, growing mesmerized by the gray of his eyes. They were stormy gray, like what winter storm clouds looked like just before a blizzard.
When he looked directly at me, I quickly dropped my eyes, the heat in my cheeks burning even more. As pale as my skin was, I had no doubt the stranger could see how red my cheeks were getting.
Curse of being Irish. It would have been marginally okay if I had had the fiery red hair to go with it, but no. I got mouse brown hair.
Thank you Mom and Dad.
I sent the man a friendly smile as I pushed my wire rimmed glasses back up my nose. I didn't think this chance meeting was going to go anywhere, but it never hurt to be friendly, especially with a man that could probably snap me in two.
Unable to hold the man's intense stare, I glanced back down at my book. I wanted to stay right where I was and bask in the aura of such a perfect specimen of manhood, but I also wanted to run for my life before I did something really stupid and got myself punched, or worse, and with as big as this guy's muscles were, there could be a lot of worse.
I sighed when my watch went off. My break was over and no matter how much I wanted to stay, I knew I couldn't. My job wasn't much, but it was mine. I had a little cubicle and everything.
I closed my book and set it down. I made sure to wipe down the table in front of me. I'd had a pastry with my coffee and didn't want to leave behind any crumbs. I hated it when people didn't clean up after themselves. It took about thirty seconds to wipe down the table and gather up my trash.
I grabbed my garbage and my book and stood. I gave the man another friendly smile. "Have a good day," I said. Wishing the man a good day was the least I could do. It also allowed me to look into his turbulent gray eyes one last time.
The guy didn't smile back. He didn't even lift his head to acknowledge my words. Just stared down at his newspaper.
It was a cliché to say all the beautiful people were mean, but damn. The least the guy could do was acknowledge my existence.