~ London ~
London was confusing. He'd expected that, so Serge had planned ahead and booked his last part of the journey accordingly. He'd had to detour and land in France. Better for his family to lose track of him if they thought him in another country. He thought he'd managed. He hoped. His uncle had far reaching influence and he wouldn't be surprised if he was still followed. He'd been careful but he wasn't trained to lose special trained mercs err bodyguards.
So here he was, stumbling out of Victoria Station, his phone somewhere in the depths of Senne, his belongings back at the hotel. In France. He had 5000 euros in cash on him and one scrap of paper. One hastily written down adress. One hope for a better future. You see, Serge was gay. Really gay, all the way gay. Like eyeliner and all the way into prostate stimulation gay. It wouldn't have been that bad if he had been more of a top. But Serge... Serge liked soft things. Liked cooking and taking care of people and just dreamed of someone that wanted to take care of him. Only his dream person was a guy.
He'd hid it. He'd tried to snuffle it. His family had tried to snuffle him more than once. His father had all but tried to kill him outright. Killing him would look bad on the tabloids and his father was all about his career as a politician. His methods had become with time more and more inventive but the desired result had been always the same. Serge knew, his mother knew, they all knew. That last camp of behavioral therapy Serge had really thought that was it. That his father will finally get his wish of no longer having a faggot for a son.
That's when his uncle intervened. His uncle, Mikkal, had probably saved his life. Serge was grateful for it. When he didn't resent it, that's it. At that point in his life, he'd been ready to just give up and let his parents try on him all the new therapies they'd found. He was that twisted, that broken after years of being told what an abomination he was. Serge was also lucky, not that he'd known then. Instead of going straight to prison for his abominable inclinations, he’d got therapy. His best friend, Nikola, hasn't been as lucky. Nikola had been gay too, they hadn't been together thought they had sometimes thought they would have been better together that risking themselves in seedy bars and bad lit alleys, every time with the police one step closer in finding them. Nikola was dead now. Serge just knew it, everyone knew poofs did not survive jail. Like he knew that the self-satisfied look on his father's face that day had meant he'd had something to do with it. He’d been the one that caught them, the only one who’d known. Funny. They’d risked going to those bars searching for other like them and what proved damning in the end? A kiss. A laughing, open mouthed, sloppy kiss made in jesting between two friends barely out of infancy. Their first kiss, those other people like them had been too scary for the two adolescents to do anything but look at them and yearn for that careless freedom.
Mikkal Dagarov had found out about it. Uncle Mikka probably knew all the answers to Serge suspicions. Serge was just grateful his uncle had not sided with his father. Uncle Mikka had never been a part of his childhood and the rare times he'd visited, he'd always seemed scary and imposing. There were rumours... Rumours better not spoken out loud. Serge knew for a fact that at least one of them was true. His uncle was Bratva. Russian Mafia. Only because he'd saved Serge and let him live long enough to get to the old age of twenty-one, didn't make him a good guy or less scary.
Serge had planned this for some years now. Finding Eric on that online forum had just been a happy occurrence. Falling in love with the english gentleman felt like finally something going right for Serge. Eric was older that him.Calmer and more experienced. Bashful about it too. He'd been reserved and distant at first and Serge knew now that it had been because of that age difference. It wasn't a small gap, twenty years did matter. Serge was not naive enough to think that there won't be problems because of it. None of that mattered when Eric had finally confessed to feeling the same. His distinguished posture had softened on camera, eyes gleaming, his voice quivering in excitement as he'd proposed Serge come visit him.
"Flowers. Eric said he always liked his mother's flower garden. Flowers would be nice. Romantic. Everyone likes receiving flowers, no?"
It was raining outside Victoria station. Not a drizzle, but one of those rare moments when the sky seemed to just tumble down on you and soak you to the skin in just seconds. Serge preparations had not covered having an umbrella on him and the young man berated himself for his stupidity. Then frowned and took a deep breath. He still had moments of panic, moments when he put himself down for the smallest things. The therapy his uncle had forced him to go through had helped with that a lot, surprisingly. He'd never know therapy could make you feel lighter but that was another thing he owed his uncle. He hoped Uncle Mikka found his letter and understood that he was grateful. He hoped that he'll listen and not come looking.
Serge shook his head, water going everywhere and looked up and the sky already trying to clear itself. He was in London! He was free to be whoever he wanted to! He was twenty-one and in love. He needed to find some flowers. Red and purple, those were Eric's favourite colours.
The slip of paper he'd been reading and smiling at for the last two days since he'd left his uncle's residence was wet and useless now and still Serge almost run into to the street to get it back when a gust of wind ripped it from his cold, shivering hands. The cars speeding by convinced him otherwise. No matter, he could access his email and print the letter again. Eric's words will always be with him anyway. The sight of colourful buds sheltered from the rain distracted him and he rushed towards the florist instead.
He didn't see the other man patiently waiting for the light to change before picking the soaked, ripped paper from the street.
* * * *
"Yes, sir. That is correct."
"Fuck you, Alexei. How many times did I tell you to drop the sir? We're not on the field anymore."
Alexei smirked as his former boss continued to frown at the information he was reading.
"We never left the field, sir."
"I do clearly remember you retiring. I remember a certain Alexei Averin begging me to help him get away, get far far away from the field."
Alexei face froze and his half smile vanished. That had been a dark period of his life. His father, Viktor was finally dead for good and Alexei really didn't like to remember the time before that. For Mikkal to casually mention this meant...Well, not good things for Alexei.
"Shit. I'm sorry. I guess I'm getting to used to twisting arms. I shouldn't have tried to use that to get what I want."
If possible Mikkal frowned harder, his expression harsher and more...tired that Alexei had ever seen before.
"Is it about this guy, Serge? You need me to have a definitivetalk with him?" "NO!"
Alexei took a step back and blinked at that. Startled by Mikkal’s vehemence, Alexei e looked down at the guy's picture. Young, wide eyed. Blond hair, ruffled as if he'd just got out of bed, a bit too long and half-obscuring the crystal blue eyes. Eyes warm with laughter and shadowed by grief. Alexei squinted his own eyes and looked closer at the guy's face. At a particular mole on the side of his neck. His eyes flew back to his mentor and friend.
"I want you to go back to London, Alexei. I want you to have that talk with this Eric my nephew is running to meet. If even half of the info about him is correct... I want you to make sure Serge settles alright there. London is your city now. You found a home there. Serge could too if only there was someone to watch his back."
* * * *
The rain was not stopping though it was getting lighter. Colder still, not that Serge was feeling it anymore. He'd been waiting at the bridge for the better part of the day. He'd been waiting for what felt like days but had only in fact been three hours. He should be hungry. He should be freezing and want out of his clothes.
Eric was not there. Eric was not answering his phone when he'd tried calling from the public red boot at the corner. Eric was so late that Serge was really not laughing.
He'd bought roses and irises. Red and purple, clashed like bruises on bloodied skin and they hurt Serge's eyes with their violent colours. They looked sad and pathetic, most likely as so did he.
"Hey, you alright mate?"
The deep voice pulled Serge back from the edge of another bout of self-pitying and self-berating. Strange how he cared more about what will happen with him now than what if anything had happened to Eric to make him stand up Serge. He was really a horrible person. Had he been using the idea of Eric? Had he been so blinded up by his wish of being free to be himself that he'd latched on a love story that had never existed as his own personal safety blanket? Maybe Eric had finally clued in and decided he didn't want to be a stepping stone for Serge. He liked to think he was not that cruel and calculated but his heart didn't lie. And sure he was disappointed, but this? This didn't feel like heartbreak.
"Mate? Should I call someone? You're worrying me."
Right. Someone was speaking to him while Serge was analyzing himself. He did tend to get lost in his own head.
Serge turned from the rail, the river's waters trying for a moment to keep him focused on them. He hadn't been that desperate. Not since the first time his father had forced into a therapy camp. Still, their quiet relentless had helped him keep his calm. The stranger behind him was not what he'd expected. He'd expected someone old. He'd expected someone with grey temples and fine line, soft expression and maybe fake worried smile. Someone a lot like Eric. Not that Eric had ever seemed fake. Had he?
The guy still watching him was nothing but. He was tall, much taller that Serge's five feet seven. Dark. That was a good word describing him. Dark hair, dark eyes. Stone expression. It wasn't raining anymore? Ah. The stranger was holding an umbrella. Serge
was dizzy. His head was buzzing. He thought he saw his stunned expression mirrored in this stranger's eyes. The blank expression currently staring him in the face made him doubt it.
"Thank you," he pointed at the arm holding the umbrella instead of explaining. He got a nod in return and another cryptic look.
"Do you need anything?" The man's words were stilted and his voice almost rasping as if he wasn't really used to speaking a lot. Or he smoked a lot. The scar Serge glimpsed on his neck a second later explained the whys better. So did the fleur-de-lis tattooed on the strong hand clenched around the umbrella.
Serge hand dropped the flowers he was still holding. The umbrella fluttered in the strong wind. The guy holding it stood there unruffled. Unmovable. Next to that tattooed brand, the rolled sleeves of the guy’s buttoned-up dress shirt were still barely held by rainbow cuff links.
"Mate? Let's get you out of this rain." The accent was slightly off, audible even with the whispered rugged quality of that voice. The accent was wrong but the worry was evident and clear and Serge smiled.
"You look like a drowned puppy for Christ's sake." Serge laughed.
He found out the stranger's name later that night as he was given blankets and a place to rest his head. Alexei grumbled and mumbled about puppies that don't know what's good for them and for Christ's sake why was Serge asking that just then? Serge just nodded and smiled again.
He'd known what was important from the beginning. It wasn't flowers. Or the letter that brought him to this place and time. He'd found it in the drops of rain sparkling on a stranger's lashes. A stranger that didn't care about getting wet but had opened his umbrella to shield Serge from the cold weather and not badgered him to rush where it was not raining anymore. He could learn to love the rain as long as he had that umbrella keeping him sheltered.
Enchanting his Mate
(Book 5 in Return of the Originals series)
Mallick’s life had never been easy and that probably wouldn’t change anytime soon. Likely, never. It was normal, after all his father was probably the most hated man on Earth and for good reasons too. Determined to stop the suffering, at least for others, he flees in search for allies and finds much more than he bargained for. He finds everything he’d ever wanted just to see it torn away together with any hope he'd ever had.
Adair shouldn’t be alive. He should have died with his mate more than two millennia ago. Yet here he is, and the one responsible for his awakening is none other than the son of the man responsible for shattering his world. To say he reacts badly it’s an understatement. He realizes soon what he had done but by then there's nothing he can do to fix it.
Is there any hope left for the two broken souls? Will Mallick finally get what he’d not even dared dream about? Or is his not-mate too broken to accept the second chance he’d been given? The odds are stacked against them but luckily they have friends willing to help and pester them until they get it right. This time, they're both due a bit of happiness if only they can reach and grab it.
Go to the mausoleum.
Killa’s words still resounded in his brain two hours later. Mallick had eaten, slowly, pretended to read for the last half an hour and stared at the windows, forlorn. He was pitiful.
“All right. All right. Goddammit!”
He threw the book on the stand, just now noticing that he was holding it upside down. This was getting ridiculous! What was all the big deal, after all? He was going to visit a grave that may or may not produce a zombie. Yeah, no biggie. Either he was crazy or... he was crazy.
Mallick threw the door open so hard that it slammed the wall and almost knocked him on his ass when it bounced in his face. He rubbed his nose and felt the stickiness from his brand-new cut.
“Great. What else?”
Outside the sun was barely still shining. He could see the sky clothed in the various colors, preparing for the night. Yeah, he was dumb. I mean really? Visiting graves at twilight? At least it wasn’t the witching hour, but still! The garden looked glorious. The flowers shone brightly, cheerfully saluting the last glimpses of sunlight. Mallick didn’t notice any of this. His eyes were trained on the dense forest and the shadows that seemed to claim it more and more, second by second.
“Right. No biggie. At all. You’re a paranormal, Mallick. Man up. You’re big, bad, and... Yeah, right.”
He rolled his eyes, exasperated with himself, and entered the forest. A barely there trail took him quite quickly straight in front of a dome. It didn’t resemble a mausoleum. Not that he had seen many, maybe pictures of human ones. The dome was of carved stone with long-forgotten aged symbols staining its surface and gaping holes for high windows sustained by arcs. The doorway loomed ahead, like an open screaming mouth, and Mallick half turned to flee before he forcibly stopped himself. This was a dumb idea. He could do this, though it was still a dumb idea, no matter how he imagined himself as a hulking figure, which he wasn’t in his best dreams.
Come on now. I have faced worse that empty, dark tombs.
“Yeah, when? You wiseass. I better stop talking to myself now, or I’ll get in an argument for real.”
The truth was Mallick was petrified. Not of the dark or danger, if there was one, other than a close encounter with some bats. No, Mallick feared knowing. He felt the tug in his chest stronger than ever, and he knew whatever had been beside him all his life was there. Inside that tomb. Not speaking to him anymore.
“Ughhh! You’re a damn coward, Mallick! Go in already!”
He ran inside before he ran back to his bed or rather under it. The interior was not as dark as he had imagined. There was a round skylight cut in the dome’s ceiling, casting a circle of light on the ground. It also wasn’t huge or very ornate. Some interesting statues that Mallick recognized as being actual stone replicas of paranormals in their other shapes, the same symbols as outside but that this time, seemed to be glowing and shone in the shadows cast by the setting sun. In the center he saw slabs of stone with alight writing all around the pool of light in the middle, all arranged in circles upon circles. Not a lot of graves. Paranormals lived long, healthy lives if left alone, immortal in a way. They weren’t left alone often. Either humans hunted them or they made enemies among other paranormals.
Next to the center, a new tomb was covered in flowers. Not with flowers growing on it, but with flowers overflowing from the tomb beside it. The new tomb had been Aeri’s. His name was still on it, though the epitaph had been changed and made to commemorate the losses paranormals had suffered in the war Kale had wagged to overthrown the Council when he had thought his mate dead. Mallick was fascinated by the flowers. Short, white ones, round as a coin and found all around him, following the circle of light. Small, white mushrooms could be seen among them, and Mallick stumbled a step.
Unnoticed by him, a drop of blood from his abused nose dripped on one of the flowers. He didn’t see that, or see anything else for that matter. He was too busy feeling the ground shake. His legs failed to hold him upright, and a roar deafened him. Mallick’s eyes, wide open, took in the seemingly appearing from the ground shape, and he prayed he wouldn’t pee himself. Exactly in the middle of the fairy ring, in a pool of light cascading from above, the ground parted for the rising form, and Mallick saw the man.
Aeryn Jaden loves to read. Loves it so much that some days she doesn’t know what reality is anymore. Her friends and family usually have to yell a bit and remind her. Must be why she’s twenty eight and still searching for a special person of her own. The second best thing in the world for Aeryn is writing. Writing keeps her relatively sane and clears the voices in her head clamouring for her attention (meaning the characters’ voices, she’s not that crazy to randomly hear voices! Yet.). She was born in Romania but cannot stay put. One year you’ll find her in England, the next in Greece or Belgium. Who knows where her restless feet will carry her next... One thing remains constant and that is her totally healthy Internet addiction. So you can find her on Facebook or email her at email@example.com or better yet at her
She’ll love to hear from you so please stop by!