Dark Reign (Box Set)
Ebook ISBN: 07466-02408
[ Paranormal Romance, MM ]
Alpha Marcus Deleon’s about to go to war to save his pack from his ex-lover, vampire Dalton Gray.
Publisher’s Note: The Dark Reign (Box Set) contains the previously published novellas Found, Oathbound, Atonement, and Fight or Flight.
Found [Book 1]
“What the fuck am I paying you for?”
A steel-toed boot slammed into AJ’s ribs, driving the air from his lungs. With a groan, he rolled over and coughed up a mouthful of blood. He’d always heard that a man’s life flashed before his eyes just before death, but he’d never believed it. Then again, he never believed he’d be drowning in his own blood on a concrete floor in the middle of nowhere.
He collapsed face first, not daring to move anymore. A few seconds later, he heard the heavy stomping of those boots, then silence. Relief shot through him when the door slammed shut.
Still, he wasn’t stupid. He stayed where he was, straining to hear anything else. When he was convinced he was alone, AJ hauled himself up, fingers slick with sweat and blood, scrambling to keep a grip on the metal table.
He knew he was looking death in the face. He’d felt bones splinter under the assault of Dalton Gray’s boot. When he tried to stand, blinding pain shot through AJ’s body, nearly sending him to his knees.
This wasn’t happening.
The world began to turn gray and fuzzy at the edges. The floor came up quickly, the impact shattering something inside him.
He wasn’t supposed to die this way.
It wasn’t the excruciating pain from before, but it was enough for AJ to know he sure as hell wasn’t dead. Yet.
He kept his eyes closed, but wherever he was, it was relatively dark. Awareness started creeping back, and AJ gave into his morbid curiosity, opening his eyes slowly.
Where the fuck was he?
AJ froze, his heart hammering in his chest. Blinking, he scanned the room slowly, not entirely sure he really wanted to see who had spoken. When his gaze settled on a distinctly shaped pocket of shadow, AJ swallowed. “Who are you?”
A faint red glow lit up a man’s face, then faded. A soft exhale sent a plume of ash-gray smoke into the air. “Geoff.”
“Geoff.” AJ started to sit up, but the world spun suddenly, tilting on its axis. He dropped back onto the bed and prayed he wouldn’t puke. Bed? He patted the mattress beneath him. Soft sheets, with the faint smell of laundry detergent. “Where am I?”
“A hotel room, Settlers’ Inn, to be exact. Room 316.”
Another exhale and the smoke curled upward toward the ceiling. “Because you’re in my territory.”
“Your territory?” AJ opened his eyes. After reassuring himself that he wouldn’t hurl with the slightest movement, he turned his head toward the man in the shadows. “Are you some sort of gang leader?” It would be just his fucking luck.
“You could say that.” The man — Geoff — leaned forward and stubbed out his cigarette in the cheap, clear glass ashtray on the table. “Why were you in the ravine, anyway?”
“Huh?” Furrowing his brow, AJ tried to remember everything that had happened. “I-I wasn’t. My boss…” He bit his lip, knowing it would be stupid to tell this stranger anything. “I got into an argument with someone. I wasn’t in a ravine; I was in… a warehouse. I think.”
Geoff snorted and sat back into the shadows again. “Must’ve been one hell of an argument. You look like you went through a bone-crunching obstacle course.”
Feels like it, too, AJ thought. “Who are you?”
“I told you.”
Another cigarette was lit, the glow from the flame illuminating a little more of the man’s face. Rugged, little bit of stubble, angular jaw; handsome, that was for certain. AJ chastised himself for even having the gall to think something like that while lying on what could easily become his deathbed. Speaking of which…
“How’d I end up here?” And why am I not dead?
“I was… hunting, and I found you in the ravine. You looked like hell. Look better now, though. You’ll survive whatever the fuck happened.” Geoff took another drag and exhaled a few seconds later. “You have yet to tell me what you were doing there.”
AJ sighed and stared up at the ceiling. “Well, I guess if you were going to kill me, you would’ve already done it.”
He chose to ignore the almost casual way Geoff said that. “My boss beat the fuck out of me, all right? Happy now?”
“Why the fuck should I tell you?”
AJ suddenly found himself face to face with the most heart-stopping set of hazel eyes he’d ever seen.
“Because I just saved your ass from the beggars and thugs who would gladly fuck it down there.”
Fuck. Was a man supposed to look that God damn good? AJ opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Words had completely abandoned him in favor of leaving him to gape at the sight of a pair of lips just inches from his own.
“Dog got yer tongue?”
Hot breath warmed AJ’s lips, seeping between them to settle in his lungs. What were they talking about again? Oh, yeah. Ravine. His ass. Fucking. Wait…
“Don’t you mean ‘cat’?”
“In this case… no.”
He wasn’t given a chance to answer. Those lips crushed his, Geoff’s tongue pushing right between them to claim his mouth. AJ stared into golden eyes, but the sensations rushing through him were too strong to ignore. With a half-protesting, half-pleading moan, he closed his eyes and gave in, opening completely to the man’s kiss.
So what if he died? It was the best fucking kiss he’d ever had.
When Geoff pulled away, AJ could do nothing but stare mutely up at the man. Geoff left the bedside and started for the bathroom, one hand running along the dresser as he went. AJ watched his host with interest. It wasn’t every day he was snatched out of Death’s grip by a hot man in tight, faded blue jeans. Geoff stopped in the bathroom doorway and tugged his black shirt over his head, tossing it onto the bed at AJ’s feet. Then he went into the bathroom and closed the door.
AJ remained where he was, unsure what to think or expect. Geoff had an unmistakable standoffish air to him, but… he had rescued AJ from that ravine. Maybe the man wasn’t so bad.
The shower started and AJ finally convinced his body to cooperate. Confident that Geoff would be in there for a few minutes at least, AJ took the opportunity and sat up slowly. The room lurched a bit, but then it settled down. As soon as he was sure the floor wouldn’t move under him, AJ carefully swung his legs over the edge and sat there, breathing slow and deep. His head hurt like hell, and his ribs sure as fuck did, but nothing was screaming at him like it had before.
After Dalton had worked him over, AJ was certain he’d be dead by morning. A glance at the hotel clock on the bedside table confirmed the sneaking suspicion that he’d slept a good amount of time away. Dalton had lured him into that God forsaken warehouse at ten o’clock at night. According to the hotel clock, it was five p.m. Shit. Had Geoff sat there the whole time, watching him sleep?
The sound of a shower curtain startled him out of his thoughts, and AJ stood slowly. His curiosity had been piqued about the mysterious man who’d brought him here. A quick glance around and AJ found a wallet on the second twin bed. Beside it sat a black cane with a leather strap at one end. Brow wrinkling, AJ rounded his bed and sat down on the other side. Giving the bathroom door a quick look, he picked up Geoff’s wallet and opened it. There was no driver’s license, just an ID card.
Geoff Howell. According to the ID card, Geoff lived in the country just outside the city limits. That would explain why they were sitting here in Settlers’ Inn. It was the last hotel between the city and the country. The water in the shower cut off, and AJ quickly put the wallet back where he’d found it. He wasn’t sure why he bothered; the cane made that clear.
The bathroom door opened a few minutes later and AJ’s eyes widened. Geoff walked out wearing nothing but a white threadbare towel wrapped around his waist. The material hung off sharp hipbones, giving AJ a tantalizing view of the “v” of Geoff’s stomach muscles. His gaze traveled up the long, lean but muscular body and finally rested on golden eyes that were staring directly at him. He knew Geoff couldn’t see him; the man was blind. But damned if those eyes didn’t hone in on AJ like an animal’s, the gold in them looking brighter. Then they dulled and Geoff smiled slowly.
“Did you want to get a shower? It might help the aches.”
Heedless of his near naked state, Geoff sat on the edge of the empty bed and twisted just enough for AJ to see his face. Among other things. AJ swallowed hard as the towel rode up, revealing dark hair and Geoff’s upper thigh.
“How could you see me?” AJ asked quietly.
Geoff grinned and fell back, the stretch of that beautiful body causing AJ’s pants to tighten painfully. “I’m… gifted.”
AJ bit his tongue before he could ask “gifted in what,” and instead he stood. He looked down at Geoff, all clean and hard and… hard.
“Yeah, I think I’ll take that shower.” Clamping his mouth shut, AJ headed for the bathroom. Maybe a nice hot shower would scald the stupidity out of him.
With the bathroom door closed between them, AJ could breathe a little easier. Normally, he wasn’t so damned nervous around another man, but something about Geoff unnerved him, even if the man could kiss like a wet dream. As he undressed, AJ thought about it. It wasn’t the blindness; it was something else, something…
He shook his head and started the water. He just couldn’t put his finger on what it was about Geoff that had him so unsettled. Stepping into the shower, AJ pulled the curtain closed and stood under the hot spray. Eyes closed, head tilted back, he let out a long, slow exhale, trusting in the water to wash some sense into him. He’d nearly been beaten to death less than twenty-four hours ago. Why wasn’t he dead?
The press of a body against his shocked AJ to the core. He started to turn, but strong hands gripped his waist, tugging him back against Geoff. Breath, hotter than the steam around them, warmed his ear.
“You never told me why your boss beat the shit out of you.”
“You really expect me to answer something like that right now?”
“I expect you to do a lot of things.” Geoff’s tongue traced the curve of AJ’s right ear. “But we’ll start with you answering my question.”
“Fuck you,” AJ snapped. Sudden anger began a war with his libido. Who the fuck does this man think he is?
“I don’t bottom.”
One hip was released and AJ found himself bent forward. “No.” He braced his hands on the tile on the shower wall to stop the inevitable descent.
“No?” Geoff stepped back. AJ gasped when his ass cheeks were spread, a finger tapping his hole.
“Fuck you, asshole,” AJ said through gritted teeth. Geoff’s other hand slid around his waist and down to cup AJ’s balls. The groan lodged in AJ’s throat struggled to get out.
“Thought we established that I don’t bottom,” Geoff said casually. The finger left and then returned, slick and sliding into AJ’s ass. Geoff’s teeth scraped AJ’s shoulder, sending sparks down AJ’s spine.
“You’re an asshole.” It was all AJ could think to say as one finger became two. He went up on his toes, his brain berating his body for pushing back onto the invading fingers.
“You already said that.”
The fingers worked deeper, the heat from the water and Geoff’s body practically burning AJ up from the inside out. When Geoff pulled his fingers out, AJ mortified himself by moaning at the loss.
“Shhh…” Geoff’s heat returned and instead of fingers, the blunt head of his cock pushed in.
“Geoff!” AJ shook, head resting forward against the tile wall as Geoff’s prick stretched him open. Reason warred with need. He couldn’t stop this, didn’t want to. “More.”
“Yes.” One thrust and Geoff was buried inside him. An arm snaked around AJ’s waist, while Geoff’s other hand released AJ’s balls to grab his cock.
AJ groaned, eyes rolling back as Geoff’s fingers stroked him right to the edge. A squeeze to the tip stopped him from coming, though, and AJ cried out, legs beginning to give way. He shook his head frantically, the water doing nothing but ratcheting up the overwhelming heat.
“Come on.” Geoff’s whisper rumbled in AJ’s ear, deep and full of need.
Geoff rocked his hips back and forward, the motion not quite pulling him out. Every stroke sent another shiver up AJ’s spine, sharpened by a bite to his shoulder. The hand on his cock began stroking again, the water drumming down over them slicking the way for Geoff’s hand to drive him mad.
“Why?” It was all AJ could do. Why had this man pulled him away from Death’s door?
A deeper thrust followed the question, Geoff’s breath hot against his skin. “I saw you.”
AJ dropped one hand from the shower wall and joined Geoff’s. Geoff entwined their fingers and together, they both drove AJ over the edge. He shouted Geoff’s name, body shuddering through the rush of release. A low growl startled him and then Geoff was coming, pushing that thick cock deep inside him.
After several minutes of listening to their panting breaths and the water, which was now cooling, AJ realized what Geoff had said.
“Wait. You saw me?” He turned his head slightly, looking at Geoff sideways. “But… you’re blind.”