Between discovering that two of his brothers have accepted male beloveds and learning his eldest brother is moving their coven to the United States, Aleksei Kuznetsov’s world has been turned upside down. He’s never been good with change, so he flees his family and what he believes are their unnatural predilections. After several months of soul searching, he’s ready to make amends. However, realizing that being gay isn’t unnatural, and accepting it for his brothers, doesn’t prepare him for running into Remy Smithson. The human’s blood calls to him like he imagines a beloved’s should. Can he wrap his mind around what’s happening quickly enough, or will he lose the best thing that may have ever happened to him?
“You seem distracted and—” Aleksei paused, sweeping his gaze over the man again.
That’s when what the guy was wearing hit him. Club clothes—two inch heeled boots, tight-fitting black jeans, and a slate gray shirt with pearl buttons that would gleam under neon lights. A man wouldn’t be going to pick up a chick in those clothes.
He’s a fag!
Aleksei felt his eyes widen in surprise. He knew he should rise from his seat and get the hell away from the human. Instead, he opened his mouth and finished his sentence. “In pain. Are you okay? You want to talk about it?”
The guy scoffed as he lifted the beer to his lips. After taking a sip, he smirked wryly at him. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather run away, stud?” His blue eyes took on a cool glint. “I’ve seen that look plenty. You just realized I’m gay. I bet you can’t get away fast enough, huh, hot stuff?”
Aleksei’s face grew hot. For the first time in almost a century, he blushed. Fighting his odd reaction, he smiled tightly.
“I am an asshole,” Aleksei admitted roughly. “My brothers tell me often enough, so of that I am aware. Perhaps your friends say the same of you all the time, too.”
The human’s mouth thinned for an instant, fire flashing in his clear blue eyes, turning them a darker shade. Then, the expression was gone, and the man shook his head. He returned his focus to his beer, but not before Aleksei saw the way he pinched his lips together.
Why the hell am I focusing on this guy’s mouth? I really should just get up and leave.
Aleksei was about to do just that when the human mumbled, “You’re right and I apologize. I shouldn’t have taken my frustration out on you.” He turned and rested his elbow on the bar, sliding his beer along the wood so he still held it in his left hand. “Have you ever focused on something so much that, once it happens, you don’t know what to do with yourself?”
Being able to relate, Aleksei nodded once. “I have.” He’d wanted to gain the enforcer position in his family’s coven. Once he’d had it though, he’d lost it because of his own pigheadedness. Not that he could tell some random human about it, no matter how nice he smelled. “Is it acceptable to ask what you were so focused on? Did you lose it or gain it?”
The human shrugged. “It wasn’t like that. I was attacked a couple of years ago,” he admitted without prompting. “I spent several days in a coma, had multiple surgeries on my knee, because they’d shattered it and my thigh, not to mention muscles were torn. Then, I had to learn to walk again,” he claimed.
He took another swig of his beer, this time drinking almost half of it, betraying his frustration. “They were caught when they attempted to rape another guy,” he told him. “But he was saved by his boyfriend, husband now…” He shrugged. “My whole purpose for the last year has been to see that these guys are put away,” he mumbled, turning his focus to his beer bottle, using his fingertips on the bottle’s neck to roll it on the counter.
“Today was the last day of the trial and the three guys are going away for a long, long time.” He scowled. “My friends wanted to go dancing to celebrate, and I tried, but after sitting in the courtroom for several days, then dancing.” He shook his head, his brows furrowed. “A little too much pain, so I slipped out. Besides, who wants to dance with a cripple, anyway?” The human grunted and rubbed a hand over his face. “Shit. I sound like a whiny child.” Somehow, the man managed to dredge up a smirk as he returned his focus to Aleksei’s face. “Sorry, man. I bet you didn’t expect all that when you offered to lend an ear.”
Aleksei couldn’t help but smile. “Uh, yes, that was not what I was expecting.”
The human’s smile turned shy as he peered at him through his lashes. “I bet you’ll think twice next time before striking up a conversation with a stranger, huh?”
Recognizing the look as flirty, Aleksei’s gut tightened…and not from revulsion. He actually thought his heart felt as if it skipped a beat and his pulse sped up. Blood even flowed south.
Aleksei opened his mouth, struggling with an answer to the human’s innocent question. Unfortunately, his mind reeled as he processed the fact that he actually found this human male…arousing. He felt a nervous sweat break out on his temples.
What the fuck is wrong with me?