Everyone's heard stories or songs about being a beast of burden. Well, it’s quite a burden to be a beast, too.
Kane isn’t like most people: he’s not human, for one thing. What he is, is exceptional.
An event from his past led him to stay on Earth, a planet of people that were often scared and hostile to his kind. Even so, Kane ignored all the hateful things said to him and focused instead on the job he chose to do.
That job is everything to him, and it’s his reason for living. When one man shows up -- Al, a new hire who keeps smiling at Kane when he should be looking at him with fear and distaste -- Kane is faced with a challenge he never expected. He didn't think anyone would ever truly want him, and to discover that a very sexy, handsome man does indeed want him, shakes Kane to his core.
Despite Kane’s best attempt’s at keeping distance between them, he finds himself partnered with Al. Kane knows he needs to push Al away, and he tries. Sort of.
Al isn’t scared off like Kane’s former partners, and if he and Kane can survive the fight that’s coming for them, then maybe they’ll have a chance to discover what it means to love.
Al was quiet for a little while, which was not like him at all. In fact, he appeared to be a bit tense.
I thought I had an idea of why that was and I hunched my shoulders. “We can switch to different rooms when we check in.”
“What on earth for?”
I scowled at him. “So you can sleep easily without worrying about me getting all demon-y in the suite.”
Al swore under his breath, shooting me a quick glare before returning his attention to the road. “Get a fucking grip, Kane. You’ve had plenty of time to learn that I’m not the least bit worried about you getting all demon-y on my ass.”
My jaw dropped open and a strangled gasp was the only sound I managed to make.
Al paused, then swallowed deeply. “That may have come out quite a bit more sexual than I’d intended.” He waved his hand at me. “But you’re not an idiot. You know exactly what I meant.”
Yeah, but I had to silently admit I’d enjoyed the pictures that had flashed through my mind at his faux pas. I squirmed in my seat, trying to hide just how much I’d liked those images.
Al slid a quick, concerned glance at me. “Kane, I trust you. I know what you did to get offered a position in the government. Hell, you’re the whole reason they offered any of you guys a home.”
“It’s also the main reason I couldn’t go home.” I’d been traveling back to the gate, intending to return to my world when I’d come across a couple rogues in the aftermath of an earthquake. It was clear by the remains left behind that they had been taking advantage of the chaos afterward to gorge on human survivors. When I found the evil bastards, I’d had to observe them for several minutes to see what was going on, how many of the fuckers I’d have to fight. They were tormenting a child, hunting him through the wreckage, letting him think he might get away before taking him down. Then the bastards would let him up and they’d start the game all over again.
“Why’d you do it, Kane?” Al’s voice shook me out of my memories.
“He was a child.” I closed my eyes. “They wanted a hunt, so I gave them one.”
A challenge in survival, which they had lost -- except for the one that had fled as I’d fought the others.
Instead of chasing the one that had got away, I’d stayed with the kid until we’d been separated by humans.
“Did you ever find out what happened to him?” Al asked softly. “Find out anything --”
I cut him off. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Okay -- but,” Al bit his lip. “You changed everything that day. I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been for you.” Al’s quiet words shook me out of the memories. “I’ll actually sleep better if I know you’re close. There’s no telling what we’re going to come across in Wellington. A partner capable of shifting into a hellhound sounds really good to me.”
“Okay.” I could only hope he was telling the truth. I turned to look out the window as we drove on. Most of the beings from my world who had chosen to stay on Earth were the weaker species. And we weren’t demons, just like I wasn’t really a hellhound. I didn’t come from hell, after all, but a world separated from Earth by a thin veil that had ripped open. But humans needed to call us something, something they could understand, so my species were typically named after creatures from human horror stories. Oddly enough, most of us looked more human than beast.