“Take care of yourself. Here’s a little extra this month for your check-up,” Jake read out loud from one of his regulars. Jake replied to him with a heart emoticon, followed by one of his scripted, thankful messages.
He shut his eyes and leaned back against the car seat. Hearing the ping from his banking app moments later, he let out a sigh of relief. That did it. He opened his eyes again and checked the amount in his bank account. Jake barely made enough to pay for Nate’s monthly hospital bills, even with his last paycheck from the diner. God. This used to be so easy, but after the incident with Dark, he felt shittier than ever. Jake could probably be a contender for the ‘Worst Human Being on Earth’ award.
Needing air, he rolled down his car windows, but the tiny space still felt stifling. Jake opened the car door, not bothering with a jacket, and began to walk. He didn’t know where he planned on going. His stomach rumbled, reminding him his last meal had been half a banana muffin for breakfast and the other half for lunch. A look at the night sky told him it was past dinner time.
Jake pulled out his wallet, sighing as he counted his remaining bills. Just enough for gas money, and he needed the car running. Maybe he’d just skip a meal again. Sometimes, he’d drop by the soup kitchens, but they probably recognized his face by now. Besides, unlike some of the folks there, it wasn’t like Jake was penniless. Their needs far eclipsed his own.
Stomach still rumbling, he found himself entering the local park. Usually filled with kids, parents, dogs, and joggers during the day, it was empty now, silent save for a few hobos sleeping on the benches. Jake could easily end up being one of them, but if he didn’t have a means to get cash, Nate would have died a long time ago.
What if the doctor and nurses were right? Was it selfish of Jake to refuse to let his brother go? Living vegetable. That was the phrase one of the nurses used, and he hated her for it. Nate could still be saved. It was his brother lying in that hospital bed, not a thing but a human being. One of these days, Nate was going to wake up. Maybe not today, but next week.
He swallowed as a familiar emotion wormed its way into his heart. Despair.
Jake clenched his fists, shoving them in the pockets of his jeans. Somedays, to prevent depression from bogging him down, he tried to be positive, but it wasn’t that easy. He didn’t know where he was heading, probably walking circles around the park until his head cooled. Usually being around nature calmed him, but a blast of chilly wind made his teeth clatter.
“I’m better off in my shitty car,” he muttered. At least he could turn the heater on. Freak weather. It wasn’t even near winter. He refused to think about that particular season, because he still couldn’t afford to rent a one room apartment, and Nate’s bills only seemed to be piling. Would he be huddled in his broken-down car, unable to afford a decent jacket or even a steaming mug coffee? Jake shuddered and refused to think what next winter would be like.
Jake had been waist deep in his own thoughts, so he didn’t notice going off path. The lamp posts here flickered, and the greenery looked ill tended. Grass grew everywhere, brushing against his ankles. He spied a moss-covered park bench next to an old oak tree. An owl hooted from somewhere close by, and he jumped. Goosebumps, not just from the cold winds, appeared over his forearms. He had a bad feeling about this.
He had the distinct sensation of being watched, but that was crazy. Even if there was a crazy bastard out there with a knife, Jake didn’t have much to offer. A few dollar bills in his wallet and his phone. God. His phone. That was the most valuable thing he owned, because without it, he wouldn’t be able to conduct business. Jake hurried back to his car, except he seemed to circle the same damn bench and tree.
What possessed him to go wandering in the middle of the night anyway?
Darkness suddenly closed over him, rendering him blind. There were supposed to be stars, he remembered, and a bloated full moon tonight. He swore he heard the loud flap of wings, but what could make a sound like that? No bird he knew. All the hairs on his arms rose. Fear took root of him and disabled his ability to think, to move. The instinct to flee triggered. Jake broke from his paralysis and sprinted, heart hammering.
There it was again. A heavy flap-flap of wings, followed by a gust that made him stumble. Jake nearly tasted the ground, but he managed to break his fall at the last second. A growl made him freeze. That was way too close. Time came to an abrupt stop as Jake looked up. Everything seemed to move in slow motion.
A gasp, followed by a shrill scream, came from someone. Him.
Slitted amber eyes the size of saucers stared at him in the blackness, and he could make out the outline of powerful, monstrous bat-like wings. This creature was the one who blocked his view of the sky. Then the thing, the monster, opened its mouth and flashed him long, sharp fangs, some the size of his arm. Was this some kind of bad dream? Still on his hands and knees, he croaked, out of screams.
If this was real, then maybe it was a kind of penance he deserved for all his sins. I’m so sorry, Nate. Looks like this is the end of the line for me.
“Don’t eat me,” he whispered, voice hoarse.
It struck, a fast blur his human eyes couldn’t discern. Then nothing.
Jake nervously sat on the edge of Dark’s bed, all too aware when the dragon shifter entered the room. Dark puzzled the hell out of him. First, the dragon shifter looked hungry enough to devour him, the next, Dark offered him his own bed to sleep in. By morning, Dark would return him where he found him.
What was the point of Dark taking him up here anyway? It seemed the shifter suddenly got mad when he suggested having a one-night-stand.
Those confusing thoughts evaporated the moment Dark’s gaze held his captive. Desire slammed into every inch of his body, kindled a flame in him that made him hyper-aware of every little detail like the fact his jeans seemed incredibly tight. Catching the outline of Dark’s cock against his pants, he sucked in a breath.
Dark had a way of making his presence felt. The room temperature spiked. His shirt clung to his skin, and he wanted to be free of his clothes. He rose unsteadily to his feet, unsure if he should be making any moves, not that he had any.
“Look at you,” Dark said, voice harsh, barely human even. God forbid, but it turned him on. Jake could almost see it, glimpses of the terrifying beast inside Dark, but he knew, although he didn’t know why, that Dark would never hurt him. This powerful dragon shifter would harm himself first before that happened.
“You’re perfect. Everything I ever dreamed of and more.”
“I, uh…” No one ever described him in those terms before, yet flirting seemed like a juvenile word for the way Dark looked at him.
He found himself walking those last few steps, taking initiative, although his legs felt like they were about to give out underneath him. His body no longer felt like his own, so when Dark fisted his shirt and tugged him close, a wave of relief filled him. Then Dark placed a possessive steel-band arm around his waist, holding him in place, before tipping his chin.
Lost in those strange and intense eyes, he could do nothing but receive Dark’s kiss. The sensation of the other man’s lips against his blew his mind away. He closed his eyes, responding to the demeaning press of Dark’s mouth. It was all demand, unapologetic hunger. He pressed a hand to Dark’s pectoral. So solid. So warm.
Jake drowned. The room gave way, so did the floorboards underneath his feet. He forgot about everything—his miserable situation and his brother’s seemingly never-ending hospital bills. Dark slipped his hand under his shirt, touching his skin. The feel of Dark’s callused and big fingers felt good. Right. Addictive.
Fabric tore, and it took him a second to realize Dark literally ripped his shirt from him like some kind of caveman. His cock thickened. Jake parted his mouth, only for Dark to thrust his tongue down his throat. So good. Dark had a point. When it came to the bedroom, Jake always knew what he wanted, to yield to someone worthy of his submission. After searching for so long and nearly giving up, he finally found his man.
Dark unbuttoned his pants, unzipped it, and pulled his dick out, already at half-mast. With Dark still keeping his mouth captive, his moan came out muffled when Dark began to stroke him, up and down, slow and fast. When Dark released his mouth, he panted, wanting more.
“So hard for me already, that’s such a fucking turn-on,” Dark murmured against his ear, making him groan.
Jake rubbed himself against Dark like a cat. Shame didn’t seem to matter, not when this man, this dragon shifter, seemed to approve of whatever he was doing.
“That’s it, you want to get off, little human?”
“Yes,” he managed to utter. It wasn’t hard to figure out the word Dark might want to hear. “Please.”
“Not yet.” Dark pulled away, only to edge him closer to the bed. The dragon shifter gave him a gentle push. Jake ended up on his back, his pants still undone.
He tugged them off, along with his boxers, knowing they’d only get in the way. Who was this confident guy, he wondered? With his other relationships, he never took charge, but with Dark, he didn’t want to wait, he wanted to experience everything this man had to offer. Maybe part of him still believed this wasn’t real, that he’d wake up in his shitty little car with nothing to look forward to, except scamming more poor bastards.
Dark dropped his bottoms, and he sat up, stared, mouth falling open. The dragon shifter was huge, hung like a horse, and he wondered if Dark’s prick would fit in him. Dark crawled into bed, on top of him, keeping his weight off him. The dragon shifter took his mouth again and began pressing kisses down the side of his neck. Dark seemed to be fascinated by the spot between shoulder and neck, paying attention to it the longest.
Dark growled softly before planting more kisses, more possessive touches down the line of his body. Jake never experienced something like this, either, having a man pay his body homage. The shifter left little bites, too, some deep enough to bruise, but he didn’t mind, didn’t care. Dark closed his fingers around his dick again and began to stroke him, slow and tender, until he felt like he was about to burst.
The combination of pain and pleasure proved too much. He imagined looking at himself in the mirror the next morning, running his hands over the marks Dark left on his body, admiring them.
He shivered and understood that Dark didn’t frighten him because of what he was, but because of what he could do to him. Anything this dragon wanted, he’d give without reserve, without holding back. No restraint. He’d offer himself up to this man on a silver platter even it meant dooming himself in the process.