All That He Desires short story

All That He Desires
Jules sat behind the counter, rereading the same damn paragraph from one of his text books. It was eleven forty-five on December 31st. That’s right—New Year Eve’s. Was he out, snuggling with a guy, while counting down to the New Year? Maybe holding a glass of Champagne while streamers fell around him, singing “Auld Lang Syne?”
Not hardly.
He, poor sap that he was, was working at a gas station out in the middle of no-fucking-where near a no account town in Arkansas. What a way to ring in the New Year. But he couldn’t very well complain. He’d asked to work tonight because he needed the money. There never seemed to be enough of the stuff.
He had one semester left at college and he’d graduate—which was all well and good, except he was paying for it on his own. Between this job and being a waiter, he was surviving, if it could be called that.
His parents found out he was gay his sophomore year and cut him off. He’d done so well hiding the fact he liked men though his high school years. So much so, once he started college he’d gotten lax. He never dreamed his parents would show up at his dorm room unannounced.
They’d certainly received the shock of their lives. They’d caught him and another guy messing around. His dad, in particular, had reacted badly, ranting ‘no son of his was going to be gay.’ He’d stood there completely in shock. Did his dad think he had a choice in who he was attracted to? His old man had been so furious. Jules had honestly thought the man was going to hit him. The things they’d said to him still made him cringe, even after all this time.
As far as his parents were concerned, he’d committed the ultimate atrocity and was dead to them. Those were the actual words his dad had yelled. They’d walked out of his life without a backward glance and the money dried up soon after. Thank goodness for the scholarship he’d received, but he still needed money to live on. Attempting to talk to them did no good. Knowing they meant they said, he’d immediately tried to find work.
Jules sighed. Trying to work two jobs and carry a full schedule just might make their wish come true—these hours were killing him. But if he could get through the next few months, graduate, and get a job, he might make it. Until then he had to watch every penny.
“Bastards,” he mumbled, viciously biting into a chip. He was gay, not a mass murder.
Jules stared out at the night. It was late, cold, and not a soul around. He wasn’t overly worried about being robbed. This was the good part of town and the cops were always about. Even as he watched, a patrol car cruised by. Officer Mitchell would stop by for coffee before his shift was done. He always did and they’d gotten to be friends. Officer Mitchell had a gay teen and couldn’t understand Jules’s parent’s reaction, either.
A trash bag blew by the door, floating crazily on the currents—looked like the wind was picking up. God, he hoped it didn’t storm. That was the last thing he needed. The night was dreary enough and that would just top it.
“Right, and my mood has nothing to do with it.” He sipped his drink. He’d show his parents. He didn’t need them, and when he had a good job, he’d know he’d done it on his own.
His own… God, he was tired of being on his own. Jules wadded up the chip bag and threw it in the trash. Maybe one day he’d come across someone whom he could call his own. But until then, all he had was work, work, and more work. And school.
The glare of headlights caught his attention. Jules sat on his stool, eyes locked on the expensive car that pulled into the parking lot. “Wow, what a beauty.”
Someone certainly had good tastes. A tall man, with shoulder length dark hair, stepped out of the vehicle, and Jules swallowed. A long black leather coat hugged a nice frame, giving him an air of… mystery. The breeze teased the long locks, whipping them around the stranger’s head as he approached the store. A vibrant green scarf wrapped around the man’s throat. Even from here, Jules could see the guy was well over six feet and Jules assumed to be in his late twenties or maybe early thirties.
“Welcome to Stop-N-Go.” Jules greeted the man who entered the store.
“Hello,” the stranger stopped and brushed his hair back from his face. “Damn, it’s cold out there. Looks to be a bad night, huh?”
Not so much now. Jules glanced outside and shrugged. The wind was really whipping now. He looked back at the man and noticed the scarf matched the green of the man’s eyes. “I’ve seen worse.”
The stranger smiled, white teeth gleaming against darkly tanned skin. “Haven’t we all? I’m just going to use the restroom and get a drink.”
“Through there.” Jules pointed to the back of the store.
When the customer was no longer in sight, Jules allowed a small sigh to escape. Now that was what he was talking about. Why couldn’t he find a guy like that? Someone who was a little older than him and financially secure? Jesus, his mouth was watering. He didn’t give a rat’s ass if the dude was gay or not, he’d make for some good jerk-off material later.
Besides, a hunky man like that wouldn’t look twice at a small guy like him, even if he was gay. On a good day Jules might top five nine if the height god was feeling magnanimous. While Jules had a toned build, there wasn’t a spare ounce of fat on him. No indeed, if anything he had to work to keep weight on his frame. Part of that was probably due to the fact there wasn’t a lot of food in his kitchen thanks to the lack of money deal he faced daily.
A moment later his customer walked out of the restroom and helped himself to a bottle of water. When he got to the register, Jules took a deep breath. Whatever aftershave the man wore smelled really good. Jules rung him up, plus a scratch lotto ticket the man asked for.
“What do you know, it’s midnight,” the guy remarked, glancing at his watch. “Happy New Year. May this year be all that you desire.”
“Same to you.” Jules grinned.
“Oh, I think it just might.”
Jules waited until the man left before fanning himself. “Yeah, primo jerk-off material. Shit, I’m hard.”

Two long and boring hours later Jules walked out to his old beat up car. At lease the damn wind had stopped blowing but it was still cold as crap. He really needed to buy a heavier jacket, but couldn’t afford it right now. Rent was due along with the utilities. That took a huge chunk of his paycheck.
“What the hell?” Jules glared at his windshield. Under his windshield wiper was a small envelope. Had he gotten a ticket? What the hell would he get a ticket for? He worked here for God’s shake. Mumbling under his breath, he hurried to his vehicle. The very last thing he needed was another expense. He was barely keeping his head above water, and he did not need this.
He yanked the envelope off the windshield. At closer inspection it didn’t look like a parking ticket so he quickly opened it. “What is this thing? Oh shit, oh my fucking shit…”
Jules’ hand trembled and his stomach cramped. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing! Inside the envelope was a scratch lotto ticket—a winning scratch lotto ticket. A fifty thousand dollar winning lotto ticket. Jules staggered against his car, staring at the damn thing. “Oh my…! Oh my fucking God!”
A piece of paper fell out of the envelope and drifted to the ground. Jules, in a trance, watched as it floated lazily to the ground… zipping back and forth, back and forth as it descended. It landed on the ground, peeking up at him, taunting him with its very presence. A cold breeze caressed his skin, ruffling his hair, and the piece of paper on the ground fluttered. Shit, grab it before the damn wind takes off with it! Snapping out of the trace-like state he picked it up, hand trembling more violently now, and read the one sentence—
Maybe this will help your year be all that you desire.
Head spinning, hands shaking, Jules stared at the note as another cold breeze swept through the parking lot. Jules shivered slightly and pulled his threadbare coat closer around him. Those words—that was very close to what the stranger had said to him just a few hours earlier. Could he be the one that gifted him with this? And why? Why would a rank stranger do something like this? It had to be him, just had to be. There’d been no one else to stop by the store. Dear God, people didn’t just up and give away thousands of dollars without…
What did he want in return?
“God,” he breathed.
Well now, wasn’t that a sobering thought? Random acts of kindness were one thing, but this… this went way beyond that. Should he keep the ticket? His mother’s voice played in his head: There’s no such thing as getting something for nothing. Jules bit his lip remembering then shrugged. This was the same woman who’d loved him until she found out he was gay, too. So how trustworthy was she, really?
Besides, now that he had the money, he didn’t have to work this dead-end job any longer, and he’d probably never see that guy againif he was even the one that left the ticket. Which was a shame since the stranger had been drop-dead sexy. Jules turned the slip of paper over in his hands, but there was no phone number, no email address. Nothing. There was no way to get in touch with whoever left the ticket and ask why, or to say thank you for…
The money.
Jesus H. Christ! Money! Lots and lots of money! I’m fucking rich!” Jules yelled at the night sky, every thought in his head scattering.
Then his vision grayed and his knees went all wobbly. Little black dots flashed before his eyes and it was really hard to breathe. Money! Jules fell against his piece of crap car, sliding down until his ass hit the pavement as reality slapped him upside the head. The money…
“I’m rich,” he mumbled softly, stunned.
He didn’t feel the cold bite of the night, nor the brisk breeze that ruffled his hair… oh, no. All he felt was freedom. Okay, yeah, he really wasn’t rich, but this would allow him to pay for his last semester without working himself into a early grave, maybe buy something a little more reliable to drive, and move into an apartment that wasn’t on the ‘should be condemned list. He should have enough left over to make it to his first paycheck without living on nothing but Ramen noodles and air for the next year.
Oh God, he was going to survive thanks to a stranger who was so sexy it made his teeth hurt.
Jules leaned back against his car, tilted his head, and stared up at the nighttime sky. A full moon shined down on him, its cool, silvery light brightening up the parking lot. For as long as he lived, he would never forget this night, the night his life changed. Bathed in the moonlight, he said a quick thank you to the one that did this for him, whoever he was…. his own guardian angel.
“Thank you, Guardian Angel!” Jules yelled. He giggled at his own silliness; but hell, it was two am, and he just won fifty thousand dollars. He deserved a little silliness. Maybe this next year would be all that he desired.
Jules stood up, did a quick little jig around the parking lot, then manhandled his car door open. He was going home, turn the damn heat up in his shitty apartment to ‘hotter than hell’ level, then have a drink. Possibly two. Hell, maybe the whole damn six pack. A buddy of his had given him a couple of wine coolers for helping with an essay and he’d been keeping them for a special occasion. And damned if this wasn’t a special occasion.
Tomorrow, when he claimed his winnings, his life would change. Things were looking up, finally. Hell bells, now that he didn’t have to work every spare minute of the day, perhaps he could find someone to date. And okay, yeah, maybe it was horrible of him, but he hoped his parents saw the news. He wanted them to know he was going to be all right with no help from them.

Quite a distance down the road, an expensive car sat idling on the side of the highway, the headlights turned off. A tall man in a long black leather coat and a green scarf stood by the car. Amusement shimmied around him as he watched what was happening down the street in the gas station parking lot. Luckily his kind was able to see and hear from great distances. He tucked a stand of shoulder length dark hair behind his ear, a smile on his face at the surprise and wonderment of the young man who had just found the winning scratch ticket.
He laughed slightly as the wind carried the young man’s words to him. “Guardian Angel, my ass. Oh, little one, that’s the last thing I am.”
Soon the one he’d marked would know that. All he needed was for Jules to cash in the winning ticket, and the deal was sealed. The lovely human would be his for the taking.
“Soon,” he whispered as he got in his car.

The next morning, Jules reread the instructions on the back of his ticket. He’d been too tired and much too excited to make sense of anything last night, and the wine coolers probably hadn’t helped. He signed his name, and just to be safe, planned to make a copy. According to the ticket, he had ninety day before he’d have to claim his prize, but he didn’t intend to wait. Frankly, he needed the money too badly.
“Oh man, this is it.” His hand shook as he picked up the phone to call the number on the ticket.
He’d grabbed a quick shower and something to eat earlier. He was ready to do this, by God. Thanks to a stranger, his life was about to take an unbelievable turn for the better. He tapped the numbers in his cell wondering if he’d ever find the guy who stopped by the gas station last night. Did he want to? It still worried him why a person he was unfamiliar with would do something like this.
“Maybe there really are some good people left in this world.” Shrugging it off, Jules made the call to find out what he needed to do to claim his winnings. Maybe one plus one really did equal two.
Over the next several weeks his life took a dramatic turn after he filled out the claim form. He knew the only reason he was announced as a winner was because of the ‘stranger gifts young man with winning ticket’ angle, and sure enough the local news did want to do interviews. The amount he’d won wasn’t that big in the grand scheme of things. And what do you know—even some friends he hadn’t spoken to in years came out of the woodwork wanting to borrow. He’d been warned about this, so he was prepared.
But what he wasn’t prepared for was who else came out of the woodwork. His parents had the nerve to call him and demand the money back they paid for his first year of college. It was with an unholy delight he told them to get, ah… get lost. In so many words.
Jules paid for his last semester, found a better place to live, and bought a decent vehicle. What was left of the money, he put in the bank. And, oh yes, he quit the job at the gas station.

Chapter Two
Two months had passed since that fateful day.
“So, what?” Jules asked his best friend Miles. They were at his apartment, it was Thursday night, and they were having pizza. It wasn’t that long ago that ordering a pizza was a special treat and he made sure to remember that. Jules bit into the delicious pie, a string of cheese running from the pizza to his mouth. He washed the bite down with a frosty Coke. That was another little pleasure he insisted on… real Coke, not that bargain brand.
“Oh, come on, dude. You have enough to get that new gaming system. It’s only a couple of hundred dollars. And, well, we’d need some new games too.”
“There’s nothing wrong with this one. So what if it’s not the greatest and latest.” Jules rolled his eyes at the sad puppy dog look he was getting from his friend. “Stop that, man. What I have left has got to get me by until I graduate and get a job. I’m not blowing any of it on some stupid gaming system.”
“Spoil sport.” Miles picked up the controller. “But I guess I don’t blame you. It’s not like you have parents to help out.”
“Yeah.” Jules munched some more pizza. “I wish…”
“Don’t stop there.”Miles waves a piece of pizza around. “Go on.”
“Aw, well, it doesn’t really matter what I wish, now does it? They hate me and that’s never going to change. I do wish they didn’t live in the same town as me, though. I ran into Mom at Walmart a few days ago and she wouldn’t even speak to me. That was…awkward.”
“Awkward? I’d say that totally sucked.”
“It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t a possibility I’d bump into her or Dad every time I ran up to the store to grab a fucking carton of milk or something. That’s what sucks.”
“Well, after we graduate, we’ll blow this place, move to the big city, get jobs that pays the big bucks, and party like… what are we gonna party like?” Miles grinned suddenly. “I know, we’ll party like it’s 1999!”
“1999?” Jules snorted, reaching for a napkin. “Really, dude? Your taste in music is horrible.”
Miles leaded back on the couch, a grin lightening his face, and winked. “It’s an acquired taste.”
“It’s something all right. Just not sure what.”
Suddenly Miles grew serious. “I am sorry, though. It must be tough. I can’t imagine my parents turning their backs on me for nothing more than my sexual preference. That’s just whack.”
“It is what it is, but yeah, you’re lucky. No one should have to go through that.”
Miles held up his Coke. “Then here’s to them moving!”
Jules shook his head, but still clinked his cup against Mile’s. “It’ll be a cold day in hell before they moved from here. Just saying. But thanks for the thought.”
“You just never know, Jules. Stranger things have happened. Look at you.”
“Yeah, look at me,” Jules said as he sipped his drink. Miles didn’t know the half of it.
The pizza half way to his mouth, Miles stopped and frowned at Jules. “You okay? You kinda had a weird look going on there.”
Jules shrugged, carefully blanking his face. “Yeah, it’s all gravy.”
Well, except for the dreams he’d been having lately… strange, erotic dreams that left him breathless and wrung out by morning. And slightly creeped out. There was something not quite right about the man in his dreams, and it was always the same man, he was sure of that.
The guy demanded Jules ask for what he wanted, and somehow he knew doing that was dangerous. His dream man owned his body and... he didn’t want to finish that thought. He wished the damn dreams would just end. They were affecting him. He was tired, irritable, and… he yearned for more. He just didn’t know what he yearned for.
Shrugging off the thoughts, he turned his attention back to Miles. They spent several more hours playing video games before Miles went home. Jules wandered around his apartment for a while, restless, before finally taking an over-the-counter sleep aid. Thank goodness he had a late class tomorrow. One way or the other, he planned to sleep like a baby tonight.

“Oh, little one, surely you didn’t think some pill would keep me from you?”
Smoke swirled, moving faster and faster in a whirlwind of motion, until it condensed… a body forming from the writhing, shifting mass. Plain black leather pants and a white, loose poet shirt graced his tall figure. Half boots completed the simple outfit, one he didn’t plan to have on for long.
Lifting the sheet, he peered at the body flung across the bed. Jules was naked, thank the gods, and Anslee smiled. Perfect. He pulled the sheet back, exposing the sleep-warmed body. Chanting softly, he whispered the spell that would guarantee Jules stayed asleep, but be aware of all that happened to him—at least subconsciously.
With a flick of his wrist, Anslee’s clothes disappeared and he knelt on the bed, one hand trailing over Jules’ calf, and sighed happily. The human was small of stature, but toned. His chosen one complained about being five-nine, but Anslee liked smaller men. He ran his hand higher up Jules’ leg, admiring the figure on the bed. Fair of skin and light colored hair… what humans today called a dirty blond.
Soft, light-colored hair covered his arms and legs, and a small patch of slightly darker blond hair at the base of a nice-sized dick drew his eye as Jules rolled onto his back, a moan already forming on his lips. Pleased with the reaction, he kept his touch light. Bleary hazel eyes opened to stare up at him.
“Oh God, not again.”
“Why do you fight me so, little one? I only want to give you pleasure.” Anslee’s hand feathered over a knee, moving slowly upward. The human’s body tightened with desire—a desire he fought tooth and nail every time.
“Y-you want it all—everything from me.” Jules shifted on the bed, helpless to keep his legs from opening, offering a more private treasure.
Anslee’s fingers blazed a path up Jules’ leg, barely stopping short of the main goal as Jules arched on the bed, wordlessly offering the prize Anslee sought.
“Of course I do, little one. And you will give me all too.” Anslee let his nails scrape over Jules’ stomach, keeping far away from the dick that wept pre-come on Jules’ belly. The smell of this human’s desire made him hunger. “Tell me what you want.”
“Why must I always—”Jules tossed his head back and forth. “Oh God, oh God… touch me.”
Anslee’s fingers stalked up Jules’ chest, moving in on hard nubs that stood proudly. “Touch you? Where?”
“M-my… cock. Stroke me. I want… put your hands on me, dammit.”
Anslee settled by Jules and grasped the cock that begged for his attention. Such warmth and heat incased in steel, but soft to the touch. So lovely; how he wanted to tasted, but the human had to ask first… always. There were rules, after all.
“Ask…” Anslee leaned closer, his breath a warm kiss across heated flesh.
“Oh fuck! Why do I always have to…?” Jules gripped the sheets on the bed. “Please, just please, suck it. Just touch me, give me what I want… please.”
“What you need, little one… and I will, once you stop fighting me.”
“I-I can’t help it!”Jules reached a hand out and touched flesh…. touched flesh! Alarm filled him and again the feeling of… something wrong assaulted him. Was it possible these weren’t dreams? “What are you?”
“Ah, finally you ask.”Anslee kissed the tip of Jules cock, then leaned closer. “I am áimear—one of the dark lords. The time has come, Jules. Tomorrow night I’ll come to you in person; no more games.”

The ringing of his cell woke Jules as the image of shoulder-length dark hair back and green eyes faded away. He snatched his cell off his night table. “What, dammit?”
“Dude! I was just at the post office and guess what I saw?”
“Stamps?” Jules snarled into the phone. “Fuck, Miles, how should I know? I’m in bed, remember? Why the hell are you calling me—?”
“Man, I just saw your mom. She was filling out a change of address form. They’re moving, Jules! How strange is that?”
Jules ran his hand over his bare belly, shocked at what he heard. Frowning, he looked down. On his belly were four lines; scratches really. The dream came crashing back as he dropped the cell. “Oh my God.”
He heard Miles crow into the phone. “I know, right? How weird is it that you were just saying you’d wish they move? And here they are—”
Jules snatched the cell back up. Fuck, his hand was shaking like a leaf. “Ah yeah, man. Look, I got to go. I’ll call you back later.”
Jules hung up, cutting Miles off, his hand still fiddling with the scratches. Miles probably thought he was peeved since he woke him up, but he couldn’t worry about that right now. No, he had something much bigger to worry over, like that damn dream that was bouncing around in his head. He’d put it down as a nightmare, except the proof something happened was etched across his belly. There was no way he’d scratched himself last night while asleep; his nails were nonexistent.
Fear bubbled in his chest, his heart pounded, and his vision wavered. Sweat broke across his forehead and his scalp itched. He jerked his hand back from the scratches. For a moment he thought he’d throw up; spit flooded his mouth. He grabbed the glass of water on the end table by the bed and he drank until the urge passed.
This was crazy, just plain nuts. Things like this happened in the movies or books. He glanced back down. The scratches were still there, they hadn’t miraculously disappeared like he hoped. Kinda hard to argue with that… something had been with him last night.
Oh shit.
As tempting as it was to bury his head in the sand, he didn’t have time to play deny reality right now. Whatever the thing was that visited him last night said it’d be back tonight. Jules ran his other hand through his messy hair while he sat in bed trying to think logically. Logically. He was tempted to laugh hysterically. Logic just flew out the nearest window.
What was he going to do? Find a priest? Perform an exorcism? Join a monastery? Oh wait, he couldn’t have sex if he did that, right? But then again, maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing at the moment. He could run for the hill. Buy a cross? What about a gun? Maybe never fucking sleep again?
Oh fucking shit.
Was it panic time yet? One part of his brain was yelling there was no better time, while the other side said get a grip and think this through. Information was power. Right now he needed all the power he could get, because something intended to pay him a visit tonight.
I’m about to losing my fucking shit.
He bailed out of bed, stumbling across a pair of boxers on the floor and nearly face-planting on the carpet. Could this day get any worse? Don’t go there, Jules. He yanked them on and rushed to the computer sitting on the desk in his bedroom. What was the name his dream—man, thing, creature—used?
“Right, he said he was áimear—one of the dark lords. Okay, that sounds threatening. What the hell is a dark lord? Nothing good, I bet.” Jules booted up his laptop and went searching. It took a while because he kept misspelling the damn word, but he finally ran across something.
Jules scowled at the searches that were pulled up. “It’s Gaelic for opportunity.” Jules yanked at his hair to keep from snarling at the computer. “Deep breath, dude. Just take a deep, deep breath. Throwing the laptop across the room isn’t an option. Okay, this isn’t helping much. Whatever that thing was… it was more than a word, that’s for sure. He felt entirely too flesh-like.”
And had played his body like a violin. “Yeah, so not thinking about that right now.”
Finally he gave up. There was nothing that really applied to his situation. Jules shoved back from the desk, rubbing his neck. Man, he was stiff. His eyes were drawn to the window. It was snowing, and he hadn’t even noticed. Life altering events tended to do that. The landscape looked silent, pure, and so very white… so normal. Generally he loved when it snowed, but right now he wanted to bawl. His life had been turned on its ear, so why didn’t the world reflect that?
Jules stood up. “Need coffee. Everything looks better with caffeine zipping through the ole system.”
Jules stalked to the kitchen and promptly goggled at the clock. He’d been at it for over two hours. No wonder he was stiff. His stomach growled now that he had his head out of the laptop. Everything he knew had been rearranged on him, but hey, his stomach didn’t give a damn. Rolling his eyes, he fixed some cereal, then got dressed.
He had class this afternoon, and then there was Miles. He most likely needed to apologize to his best friend for hanging up on him. He had to be pretty pissed since he hadn’t called back or shown up. But then again, maybe it was better Miles stayed far, far away from him. But the way his luck was running Miles would show up right of the heels of that… thing.
Jules sighed. He couldn’t risk that. And it alarmed him to no end that he accepted this was all real and happening. Just one more thing to handle before the big reveal tonight, but at least this little job made sense. Nothing else did at this point.
What was he going to do?

“May I ask just what the hell you thought you were doing by hanging up on me?” Miles snarled.
Jules ran his hands through his hair. Class was over and Miles had ambushed him outside. And yes, he was as mad as Jules figured he’d be. He really shouldn’t have been surprised. He’d called, but Miles hadn’t answered, which warned he was in full drama meltdown mode. Sighing, Jules buttoned up his coat. It was cold and getting late too. The stupid instructor had kept them over… of all days that stick in the mud had to keep them over, it would have to be today.
“I’m sorry, man. I should’ve call back, but I had things going on. Yeah, I was shocked when you told me they’re moving. That really knocked me for a loop, considering I’d just said something about it, but I shouldn’t have hung up. Or at least I should’ve call back. Look, don’t be mad, okay?”
“That’s it? That’s all you have to say?” Miles puffed on a cigarette, leaning against the side of the building. He yanked the collar of his coat up as a cool wind teased his hair. “You act like a jerk and all I get is this half-assed
“I said I was sorry. You want me to write it in blood or what?” Jules snapped. Oh God, oh God, he was running out of time, plus now he owed Miles another apology. He glanced up at the sky. The sun had set, the last brilliant displays of yellows, oranges, and purples sinking below the horizon. Night was on the way. He needed Miles to leave, dammit.
Jules shivered in his coat. Lovely, the damn wind was picking up. “Ah jeez, sorry! I didn’t mean to snap. It’s just—”
“You do know smoking is a dangerous habit, right? It can lead to all sorts of nasty things. You really should think about giving it up before it’s too late.”
Jules stiffened. Oh holy fuck, he knew that voice. It had whispered all sorts of things in his ear last night. Dreading what he’d see, he turned. Yup, there was a body, a real body, attached to the voice and dressed in a long black leather coat and a green scarf—just like before.
I’m fucked.

Anslee stopped several feet from Jules and his friend. One human looked ready to pitch a fit and the other looked like he was ready to fall to the floor in a dead faint. He’d warned Jules he’d come for him when darkness covered the land. Of course, he hadn’t said where he’d show up, now had he?
Anslee held his hand out. “Shall we, Jules? I do believe I told you early this morning I’d come for you.”
“I-ah… I…”
“Well, shit, man!” Miles elbowed Jules, a grin on his face while he eyed Anslee. He ground out his cigarette. “No wonder you hung up on me. Why didn’t you just say something? I’d have definitely understood.”
“Whoo wee.” Miles winked at Jules. “Right then, I’m off. You two have fun. Give me a call when you can, dude, ‘cause, you know, you got some ‘splaining to do!” Miles thumped Jules on the back. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t.”
“Jules?” Anslee raised an eyebrow at Jules, his hand still extended. “Come.”
Jules listened to Miles twitter at the word choice as he hurried off, and somehow found his hand in Anslee’s.
“Very good.” Anslee drew Jules closer. “My car is over there.”
“I-I-I…” Jules snapped his mouth closed. “Running would do me no good, would it?”
“None at all.”
“Are you going to hurt me?”
Anslee walked Jules to his sports car and opened the passenger door. “Hurt you? That’s the last thing I want to do you to, little one.”
“Then what the fuck doyou want with me?” Jules slid in the car, the well-appointed leather seat holding him close. “Why are you hanging around me? How the hell did you even notice me?
What did I do to—?” Jules waved his hand at Anslee.
Anslee shut the door and walked to the driver’s side. Once in, he started the car, the engine growling to life. “What did you do to gain my attention? Nothing really. I happened to be passing by and felt your desperation, so I stopped. Buckle up, Jules. ”
Jules pulled the seatbelt over his chest. “And?”
“And I presented you with an opportunity that would solve your problemsthe winning lotto ticket.”
“Shit, that was you?”
“Yes. That’s what my kind does. We present an opportunity and wait to see what you humans do with it. But there’s always a catch. For example: a man loses his job, his car, and is about to lose his home. He robs a bank… and gets away with it, but loses the life, and the family he once had, because now he’s a wanted criminal.”
“If you take the opportunity offered, which you did, by the way, then my kind is free to pursue you. You yourself wondered about that very thing before you cashed the lotto ticket.”
Jules closed his eyes as they pulled on the main street. “So I doomed myself when I cashed it in?”
“Don’t think of it that way. Think of it as you opened yourself to opportunity… to me, in particular. ”
“Are you human? Good or bad? You called yourself a dark lord. Does that mean you’re… bad?”
“I am neither good nor bad. I’m called a dark lord because of my features—my dark hair and skin. I’m not human either, but you already knew that. I am áimear—one of the dark lords of Opportunity, and you are mine.”
Chapter Three
Jules sputtered as the sports car pulled away from where it was parked. He seriously considered throwing open the door at the next red light and bailing. He wasn’t entirely sure why the hell he’d gotten in the car in the first place.
“Yours? Yours? Just what the hell does that mean?”
“It means I’ve claimed you as mine. I’ve been looking for a mate and I’m attracted to you, as you are to me. When you took the opportunity I presented, you opened yourself up to being claimed by me.” Jules drove through the night as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.
“But, but… you just said you weren’t human! Then how can you be with me? Oh my God, what did I just say? This is just nuts! Are you listening to yourself?” Jules was tempted to beat his head against the dash. This was beyond crazy. “You can’t just up and… do whatever with me. I have rights. This is America! Jesus, don’t I have a say in this?”
Jules shrugged. “Yes, and you made your choice, remember? You chose to take that lotto ticket.”
But I didn’t know what taking that damn thing meant!”
“Doesn’t matter. Did you truly believe you’d get something for nothing? Really, Jules, did you not think the whole set-up was odd? That there wouldn’t be strings attached?” Jules slowed and stopped at a red light. “I don’t understand why you’re so upset. I’m giving you a whole new life. I’ll show you things you only dreamed of. Humans!”Anslee huffed. “You humans make no sense most of the time. Why can’t you be grateful for what I’m offering you?”
Then the stark realization hit he was talking to a being that was not human. Anslee was not only a nonhuman, he seemed to think what he was forcing on Jules was normal. Did Anslee think every brain cell in his head had shut down and he’d just happily bob his head and go along? He wasn’t some animal to be ordered around. Maybe he should just bark and wag his damn tail. Jules still wasn’t sure what the thing next to him actually was, but his attitude stated clearly how he felt about humans. On the evolutionary chain, he was below Anslee.
Yeah, and fuck that.
Jules threw the car door open and bailed. They’d stopped at a red light next to a park on the other end of town. The park had been built years ago and had woods that backed up to one side. He’d played there as a kid, then later when he was a teen. The woods were vast, and they gave way to huge tracts of farmland. The good thing was he could use the farmland and woods as cover to circle back around to his apartment.
“Jules! Damnations!”
The annoyance—well, imagine that—in Anslee’s voice, and the screech of tires, had Jules picking up speed as he ran through the play area. Nighttime sounds greeted him as he sprinted toward the woods. The moon was out and there were few clouds in the sky. He wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. Way too much light. Skirting the monkey bars, he headed straight for the tree line and a well-worn path he hoped was still there. When he was a teenager, this was where many of his friends went to make out.
“Still there, thank God,” he panted, following the path. If he remembered correctly, it didn’t go far. Then he’d have to deal with the overgrowth.
Little slivers of moonlight beamed through the bare tree limbs, casting an eerie glow. An owl hooted in the distance and Jules shivered. Was Anslee following him? He couldn’t hear anything over the pounding of his own heart. Jules stumbled to a stop, one hand resting against a tree for support, and strained to listen. Nothing. The crickets still chirped as if it was nothing to have a human crash through their woods.
Every B horror movie he’d ever seen raced through his head. Wasn’t this where the actors died a horrible death? Lovely thought. He didn’t think Anslee would kill him, but he was sure to be unhappy with the little impromptu jaunt through the woods either.
“Not going there.”Jules pushed the thought aside, filled his lungs, and took off again.
Maybe Anslee wasn’t following him, but he couldn’t see him giving up so easily. Especially when he’d set this whole damn thing in motion. Slowing down a little, he picked his way through some brush. Earlier, in his mad dash, a branch had whacked him across the face. Yeah, once was enough, so he was more careful now. He’d get home and…shit. Get home and what? Pack up a few essentials and take to the road? Empty out his bank account and spend the rest of his life running? Throw away his degree while he hoped that… thing… never found him? Okay, so maybe he hadn’t thought this through.
Was he completely nuts?
Jules stopped again. But what was the alternative? Just give in to what Anslee demanded? Give up his life to be… he wasn’t sure what he’d be, but he damn sure didn’t want to find out.
While lost in his head he’d covered more land than he thought, and now he was coming out of the woods. All he needed to do was get across the farmland and he’d be close to home. This was going to be the hardest part because the lands were bare this time of the year. He’d be exposed.
“Shit.” There was no hope for it. He’d try to stay as close to the tree line as possible and… pray.
As good as praying sounded, he was more worried about the fact he wasn’t being followed. At least, he was pretty sure he was alone out here. While racing madly through the woods, he’d half expected Anslee to pop out from behind a tree and yell ‘boo’ at him. The fact he hadn’t scared him more. He didn’t strike Jules as the type to just shrug his shoulders and give up.
Jules skirted the pastures, eyes searching the darkness for anything that looked out of the ordinary. God, everything looked so different at night with moonlight bathing the land in its silvery light. The stark beauty would’ve interested him more if other things hadn’t been demanding his attention.
Like… where was Anslee, and what was he planning?

Anslee parked, watching as the one he’d claimed ran hell for leather away from him. He sincerely hoped his human didn’t break an ankle in his mad dash for freedom.
“Mental note—lock the doors from now on.” Sighing, he got out and walked around the front of his car. The headlights cut across the park, illuminating the swings close by.
He shouldn’t have been surprised by Jules’ actions, though. Humans were notorious for fighting against anything that represented a loss of what they considered their freedom. Freedom. He snorted. What was freedom? Did these humans not realize every living thing on this planet was governed by rules in some form?
There was the law of nature, laws set up by man, laws of the different deities…freedom was nothing more than an illusion. They all answered to someone, even beings like him. Laws, freedom, choices… opportunity. These concepts were all related, as were the consequences tied to each. For every action, there was a reaction. Call it Fate, Karma, or whatever, life was not lived in a vacuum.
Ever since the universe came into being, and the first creatures crawled out of the primordial ooze, there had been choice, and with that, opportunity. Human history was littered with examples. As long as a creature lived, he had choices. Anslee smirked as he remembered one of his favorite examples revolving around a garden, a snake, and an apple. Jules took the opportunity offered and now it was time to deal with the end result of that…. him.
Wasn’t there an old saying about when Opportunity knocked…?
Anslee shook his head, clearing his thoughts. Now was not the time to ponder such things. He had a human to tend to. He could admit he was slightly annoyed with Jules, but privately he did have to chuckle when he saw Jules bail out of the car. His human had guts and a very strong will. He admired that in any creature.
“So, to chase or not to chase… that is the question.” Anslee leaned against his car, debating. A chase through the woods might be fun for him, but he didn’t imagine Jules was in a frame of mind to enjoy such a thing. Maybe later that would change.
“Where would he go? Hmmm. If I was a human who had just been confronted with the unimaginable, was scared and not thinking clearly, and now was on the run…where would I go?” Anslee smiled suddenly. “Home, of course. I’d need money, supplies, and so forth. Yes, my first stop would be home.”
Satisfied with that answer, he returned to the car. Maybe he’d pick something up to eat on the way to Jules’ apartment. He was sure when his human managed to stand still for more than a few moments, exhaustion would hit him like a ton of bricks. Adrenaline drop wasn’t a pleasant thing and Jules would need comfort. Which he was more than willing to give.

“Shit,” Jules hissed when yet another branch smacked him in the face.
He’d made it. Now all he had to do was cut through a few business parking lots and he’d be home free. While running, he’d made a plan. Okay, sort of a plan. He’d grab some clothes, something to eat, some money he had hidden, and get the hell out of there. Once morning came, he’d find somewhere to sleep for a while, then hit the road again. There were plenty of ATM’s around for him to get money from too. If he had to, he’d move clear across the country and start a new life.
A very small part of his brain that was rational pointed out the glaring flaws in the plan, but he ignored it. As he drew closer to his apartment complex, he checked the parking lot. Good, he didn’t see Anslee’s car. He grabbed the spare key under the planter and let himself inside his dark apartment. He’d get what he had to have then…
“Well, you got here faster than I thought. I had allotted at least another ten minutes before you arrived. Oh, I also stopped and got us something to eat. Your food is in the microwave so it would be kept warm. After we eat, we need to have a long talk, Jules.”
“Fuck.” Jules stared in shock at Anslee, who was sitting on his couch as pretty as you please.
The urge to run right back out the door must have shown on Jules face because Anslee raised an eyebrow. “Running will do no good, Jules. I’ll just hunt you down. There is nowhere on this planet you can hide from me. Now come in and eat.”
Jules slumped against the door frame, defeated. What the hell had he been thinking coming here? Of all the places Anslee was sure to check, home had to be high on the list. But what else was he going to do? Take off on foot with only the clothes on his back and no way to go? He had to have his car, at least. Maybe he should’ve hid out for a few days then come back here… and it didn’t matter anyway now. Maybe it hadn’t mattered at all. God, he felt thicker than London fog.
Jules shut the door behind him, the noise echoing through the room. Now, didn’t that sound final?
“How did you know I’d come here?” Jules stepped farther into the room.

Anslee watch his human edge closer. “It’s like everything else, Jules. You had a choice to make, and you made it. You could’ve run with nothing, but how well would that’ve worked? Or, you could’ve come here for what you considered important… then tried to rum. Or… you could’ve not run at all. Either way, you had a choice, an opportunity, and you made a decision. And with any decision you make, you also have to deal with the consequences. As I told you before, for every action, there is a reaction.
“But how did you know?”
Anslee shrugged. “It stood to reason from what I’ve observed of human nature. You were scared and not thinking clearly. The need to “go home” or to seek a place you consider safe can be strong in some of your kind. Now, please, come in and sit down. You must be tired and hungry.”
“I was stupid in coming here.” Jules ran a hand through his hair making it stand up in every direction.
Anslee patted the couch. “Honestly, it wouldn’t have mattered, Jules. I would’ve found you no matter where you went. You are mine and nothing will stand in my way of having you…including you.”
Jules dropped down on the couch, suddenly more tired than he had been in ages. “Why me?
Why did you offer that lotto ticket to me in the first place?”
Anslee stood. “I’ll get your food. Just rest while I reheat it. And Jules, don’t try to run again. I promise you… you won’t get five feet out of this apartment before I’m on you.
Jules looked at Anslee, defiance shinning in his eyes. “Really? I got away from you earlier.”
There was that spark he so admired in this human. “You got away because I let you. I wanted you to see that no matter where you go, I’ll come after you.”
“Have you any idea how arrogant that sounds?” Jules muttered, glaring.
Anslee’s soft laugh trailed behind him as he walked to the kitchen. “I suppose it does, from your standpoint, but I wasn’t trying to be arrogant.” Moments later he returned with the food. “Here. You asked me what attracted me to you. Simply put, that night I sensed your desperation as I drove by. That caught my attention first. That desperation, and the will to succeed no matter what.”
Jules picked at the food. “What do you mean?”
“Human’s are forever struggling with things around them, trying to figure out what to do or what not to do… my kind finds that interesting.” Anslee returned to his place next to Jules on the couch.
“Jesus, you make us sound like rats in a maze—trying to figure out which way to go to get to the end.”
“You’re words, not mine, Jules. Anyway, I sensed something was bothering the human—you—inside the service station, but I also sensed a driving need behind that desperation. I admire such a strong willit glowed in you, Jules, that will to succeed, to not be beaten down by whatever was going on in your life. It was a beacon that drew me.”
“Lucky me.”
Anslee shook his head. That was exactly what he was talking about. “Your struggle might have been what caught my attention, but that drive is what made me decide to claim you. You are very strong, and you’ll need that well of strength to be a mate to one such as me.”
Jules put his food on the coffee table. “Well, goodie for you. You still don’t get it, do you? It’s all about youwhat you noticed, what you wanted, what you decided to do. And meanwhile, mepoor little human that I am—is just expected to fall in line with all this. Like I said, arrogant.”
Anslee stared at Jules for a moment. He’d never thought about it that wayand would he? He’d never had a human stand up to him before. Interesting. Several minutes passed as he considered Jules’ words. “I will allow you may have a point.”
“You’ll ‘allow’, huh?” Jules’ eyes narrowed as anger crashed through him. “Allow this…”
Jules flipped Anslee the bird and stood up.
Anslee’s eyes narrowed. “I know what that mean, Jules, even though I’m not human.”
“Well then, goodie.”Jules stalked to the kitchen, no real destination in mind. All he knew was he had to put some room between him and… whatever was sitting on his couch. “That’ll save a whole lot of explaining… shit!”
Jules found himself flying through space, his feet off the ground, as he was wrapped in Anslee’s arms. How the hell had Anslee moved so quickly and he not heard him? One minute Anslee was sitting on the couch and the next he was clear across the room!
Jules peeked at Anslee’s face… he didn’t look happy either. No, Anslee looked to be at the end of his proverbial rope.
For the first time, Jules felt bone-melting terror.

A being could only take so much Anslee fumed, coming off the couch. He’d tried to be patient with Jules, he really had, but enough was enough. Time for less talking and more action.
Jules started to struggle, his momentary shock wearing off as he was carried to his bedroom.“What the fuck are you doing? Put me down!”
Anslee did as the human asked, watching as Jules bounced on the bed. He pointed a finger at Jules, who was currently staring at him with wide eyes… What more did Jules want? He put Jules down like he demanded. Now the damn human was looking at him like he was some sort of… thing to be feared. Anslee shook off the thought.
He actually had a headache brewing.
This was why his kind just took what they wanted. Once they had mated their chosen one, things tended to calm down. What the hell had he been thinking trying to do this in such a way? Humans couldn’t be reasoned with. It was best to just claim them and have done with it.
“I’m through with all this talking. The time has come for me to make you mine.” One of Anslee’s knees hit the bed, his hands reaching for Jules… a very pale Jules.
“W-w-hat?” Jules scrambled back toward the headboard. “No, no! Oh God, oh God, that’s… that’s rape. Please, please don’t do this. Anslee, please!”
Anslee froze, his hands still reaching for Jules. Maybe he’d spent too much time among humans, but that one word stopped him in his tracks. Yes, he knew what rape was, and the ugly meaning of such a word thrown at him by the one he wanted… disturbed him.
“Please… don’t.”
The frightful whisper brought Anslee’s attention back to Jules. His human was scared out of his mind, he could see that. Jules was crammed against the headboard, shaking horribly. This wasn’t what Anslee wanted, even though it’s what his kind did. He didn’t want Jules cringing in fear; no, what he wanted was for Jules to be needy, excited. There should be desire between them, not this pain and dread.
Shouldn’t there?
Anslee moved back, giving Jules room. Confusion ruled his mind. Why did he care one way or the other? Humans were weaker than his kind, their emotions all over the place. It was better to break them quickly and bring them to heel gently… later. So why did seeing Jules cringe away from him bother him so damn much?
“Jules…” Anslee settled himself on the bed, trying to be as nonthreatening as possible. “I… I apologize for scaring you.” Were those words actually coming out of his mouth? “And you’re right. If I forced you to have sex, it would be rape. I don’t wish our coming together to be tainted by such… terror on your part.”
“You—you don’t?”
Anslee ran a hand through his dark hair, the need to tug hard nearly overwhelming. Maybe the sharp pain would jar his brain back to a normal state. Problem was, he didn’t know what a normal state was any longer. Everything had gotten turned around on him.
What he once knew as right, well, it was now being examined and found lacking. How had he gotten himself in such a situation? He glanced at Jules. Right. There sat his answer…huddled in panic. The one thing he admired about Jules was his spunk, and he’d nearly destroyed that.
Anslee sighed, completely disgusted with the whole state of affairs he found himself in. “I won’t hurt you, Jules. I won’t force you. You have my word.”
“And that’s supposed to mean something, I take it?” Jules untangled himself from the headboard, his movements slow and calculated.
Anslee’s lips twitched. His human certainly didn’t bother to censor his words. “Yes, it means a lot.”
“Yeah, well, forgive me if I don’t get all weepy-eyed over such a declaration. How can I know I can trust what you say? Hell, I’m still not even sure what you really are. You’ve been about as clear as mud on that issue.”
Anslee shook his long hair back and stared up at the ceiling. Time for some simple truths it looked like.
“I’ve told you I’m áimear. But as to what exactly we are, none of us really knows. We aren’t myths like your vampires or werewolves. We really do exist. But how, or even why, no one knows for sure. We’ve been here since the earth was born, I do know that. We’ve watched Time march on and bring with it your species. But memory is a fleeting thing, Jules. And none of us remember now how we came to be. We just… are. We serve a purpose. We are the superior race.”
“And humble too.”
Anslee snorted. Jules was nothing if not blunt. “Facts are facts. Let’s return to the living area and I’ll try to tell you what I remember.” Anslee settled himself on the couch, flipping his long, dark hair out of the way. “This is… I have no idea how accurate any of my memories are now, you must understand that.”
Jules followed Anslee back to the living area, making a point to sit on the other couch. “What do you mean?”
“I’ve existed for a very, very long time, Jules. As time has passed, my memory has—shall we say—lessened. There are holes in what I remember too.” Anslee shook his head. “Like there are lapses or gaps. I have no idea why though.”
Jules blew out a breath. Of course there was. Why did he think this was going to be easy? Nothing else had been, so far. “Has your kind ever thought to write down your history? I mean, isn’t that what intelligent beings do? You’ve certainly made a point to tell me how superior you guys are.”
Anslee snorted. “Very funny. The áimear doesn’t exactly mingle, Jules. We tend to go our separate ways.”
“Probably can’t stand each other’s arrogance.” Jules waved a hand as Anslee started to speak. “Never mind. So, you avoid each other like the plague. Got it. Tell me what you remember.”
Anslee frowned as his thoughts turned inward. “There was a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet. Upon her head was a crown of twelve stars. Also, there was a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of the sky, casting them to the Earth. The dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.”
Jules’ eyes widened, his face paling. Oh damn, that sounded familiar. Chill bumps broke out over his body. Surely… surely it wasn’t what he was thinking? “Ah, Anslee
“Wait, let me finish before you ask questions. A war swept across the skies. There was a warrior, one so magnificent it hurt to look at him. I can’t remember his name now. He and others of his kind fought against the dragon. And the dragon and his warriors fought back.”
“Dear God.”
“I remember the sounds of battlethe screams all around me, the smell of betrayal, the clash of metal against metal. Blood turned the skies red. I believed the dragon was defeated, and there was no longer any place for their kind. From what I can remember, the great dragon was thrown down to the Earth, and his warriors were thrown down with him.”
“Jesus Christ.”
“Then there was a ripping pain, unlike anything I have ever felt since. The world turned black; there was no sound, only silence. There was nothingI was nothing. I have no idea how much time passed, but the next thing I remember was the sun on my face and the soft grass under me. That was the beginning, I think, of my kindof the áimear.
“Holy shit.” Jules stood, his hands trembling. “I’ll be right back.”
“Wait, where are you going?” Anslee shifted on the couch, one hand raised.
“I’m not—” Jules shook his head, eyes still bulging as he stared at Anslee. “I’m not going to run, if that’s what you’re worried about. Oh no, if what I think is correct, there really isn’t point in my running from you anymore.”
Jules raised an eyebrow. “There never has been, but you refused to see that. It would’ve been much easier if you’d just submitted to me from the beginning. I’ve done nothing but try to give you what you desired.”
Jules stopped and turned back to Anslee, a shocked look covering his face. “What I desired? You think I desired for my life to be turned upside down? Control taken from me? Are you crazy? You…you could… you have been—oh, never mind. If you thought I wanted any of this, then you really don’t know humans. At the very least, you don’t know me.”
Anslee scrubbed his hands over his face. “Jules…”
Jules bit his lip. It was the first sign of—annoyance, maybe?—he’d seen from Anslee. Interesting. Maybe the trip down memory lane had affected Anslee more than he showed. “Look, we’ll deal with your treatment of me later. Right now there’s something I want to show you, so sit tight.”
“Sit tight,” Anslee muttered as Jules rushed from the room. “Like I’m going anywhere.”
“Ha! Found it,” Jules shouted from the back of the apartment. “Wasn’t sure where I’d left this thing.” Jules hurried back to the living area and sat down next to Anslee. “I want to show you something, and I want you to just give me a chance to say this, okay?”
“What are you doing that with tired old tripe? I must admit I’m surprised, Jules, considering the teachings in that book. Doesn’t it preach against homosexuality?”
“Depends on who is doing the interpretation of what’s written in here. And that subject isn’t one I want to get off on right now.” Jules flipped back to the end of the book he held. “This… this is what I wanted to show you.”
Both of Anslee’s eyebrows rose as Jules place the book on his lap. The chapter heading was clearly marked The Book of Revelation. “You want to show me something from the Bible? Why, Jules?”
Jules chewed his bottom lip. “I… I think you’re a Fallen Angel.

Chapter Four
“You can’t be serious.” Anslee pushed the Bible off his lap and stood. He needed room to pace, by damn. Of all the things Jules could’ve come up with, he hadn’t seen this coming, not at all. He snorted silently. A Fallen Angel, indeed. This was almost as good as when Jules wondered if he was his Guardian Angel, at the very beginning.
“It makes the most sense. Just…just hold on a second.” Jules placed the Bible on the coffee table, then reached for his laptop. After a quick search, he turned the computer around so Anslee could see what he’d found.
Anslee brushed his long hair back behind his shoulder, his eyebrows rising nearly to his hairline as the shocks kept coming. Fuck, was this hima dark Lord stumbling along two paces behind a human? He certainly wasn’t expecting Jules to show him that.
“Okay, why are you showing me pictures of what mankind assumes angels look like?”
Jules looked at Anslee. “Why do you say we assume angels look like this? Are we wrong? And if so… how do you know?”
Anslee’s mouth snapped shut. How indeed? He just knew the pictures were close, but not dead on. Moving back to the couch, he sat and stared at the screen. Most drawings had the wings wrong. The base needed to be lower, farther down the back. A hazy sheen covered his vision as everything around him faded… everything but that picture. Torn by something he didn’t understand, he raised his hand, his finger slowly tracing the wings of the creature on the screen.
Longing, an emotion buried so deeply he didn’t recognize it at first, shot through him, followed by the memory of a ripping pain. Anslee jerked his finger back as screams surrounded him. Oh merciful Father, what had he done? He couldn’t kill, killing was wrong. It was clearly written. He shouldn’t have listened to the one that… that what? Led him wrong?
The clang of swords rang around him, but that wasn’t what bothered him. It was the shouts, the words he could hear but couldn’t quite make out. Then a bright, searing light, so pure it hurt to look upon, blasted across the skies… followed by a feeling of falling, crashing down.
Then… the abrupt, painful absence of falling as he was jerked to a stop. Finally… nothing for a while.
“Anslee! Anslee? Dammit, answer me!”
Anslee’s vision cleared and he found a very pale Jules staring at him. Anslee looked down to where Jules clutched at his arms. What the fuck had just happened?
“You looked at the picture of that angel and kinda spaced on me.”
“I spoke out loud?”
“Yeah, you did. And that’s not all. You talked about swords, words you couldn’t hear, how killing is wrong, a pure light and falling down… Come on, dude. Don’t you see? It fits.” Jules let go of Anslee and started tugging at his shirt. “Take this off.”
“You want me to take off my shirt? Really?” Anslee pulled the garment over his head. “Anything else while we’re at it?”
“Would you stop?” Jules manhandled Anslee until he could see his back.
Anslee let his human place him as he wished, slightly amused at Jules. “What do you think to find, Jules? Scars from where my wings were ripped out?”
“You said that, not me. But it’s funny how we’re thinking the same thing.” Jules ran his fingers down Anslee’s perfect back, watching as the muscles bunched and twitched.
Anslee shivered as phantomwhat? Pleasure? Something damn sure raced through him when Jules touched him right under his shoulder blades. That was nothing more than him reacting to Jules’ touch on his body. Right?
Anslee looked over his shoulder at Jules, a slight smirk on his face in an attempt to hide his real thoughts.“See anything?”
“Well… no.” Jules shrugged.“Can you be killed?”
Anslee turned to face Jules. “No.”
“No? That’s it? How do you know? Has someone tried to kill you before? What happened?”
Anslee sighed. “Take my word for it, I can’t be killed. And if you think I’m going to let you slit my throat to find out, you’re wrong—no matter how much you may wish it. I may not be able to die, but I can feel pain. And to how I know I can’t die… well, I just do. I mean, I’ve been here since the start, Jules. Obviously I can’t die.”
Annoyance surged through Anslee. “Look, Jules, I’m no angel. They are good and pure and
“I didn’t say you were an angel. What I said was you had to be one of the Fallen Angels. Big difference.”
Anslee stood again, his eyes on that damn picture. The need to pace was a living thing in him. “But, according to your Bible, they were cast down to Hell. They were not cast to Earth. Earth didn’t exist yet.”
“But what if it did? And the Bible was written by Man, Anslee. Mistakes can happen. Things can be left out for whatever reason. Maybe man isn’t supposed to know about” Jules waved his hand at Anslee “about this. The Bible also says not everything that’s taught in it will be clear.”
“And just what do you think this is?”
“I think you and your kind were given a second chanceand opportunity, if you will, to redeem yourselves. Isn’t that what you call your kind? The Lords of Opportunity? Fitting, wouldn’t you say?”

Anslee stared at Jules, slowly shaking his head. “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. All you have is some loose ideas, strung together with nothing more than a guess and scripture. It’s flimsy, at best.”
Jules threw his hands up in the air. It was either that or shake some sense into Anslee. Which probably wasn’t a good idea… no matter how tempted he was. “Well, of course this is all guesswork. I mean, really, it’s not like I can run down to the local library or Google any of this.”
Anslee’s lips twitched. “No, I’d say that was out of the question.”
“So… what?”
Jules buried his hands in his hair and tugged. “Have you not heard anything I’ve said? I think you’re a Fallen Angel.”
Anslee shrugged. “And what if I am? What does it matter if I was kicked out of Heaven… but not thrown all the way down to Hell? Does that make me an angel still? Or a demon? Or a little of both?”
Jules folded his arms over his chest. How dare Anslee just blow his ideas off? “How about a pain in my ass? Don’t think you mentioned that possibility.”
The short hairs on the nape of Jules neck suddenly stood up. Anslee came off the couch in one long, smooth motion. Before Jules could react, he found himself trapped against Anslee’s body. Well shit, maybe shouldn’t have made that last little dig.
“Bringing your ass to my attention might not be the best thing to do right now, Jules, considering. It’s been a long day for both of us, and you’re tired. For that matter, I’m tired and not in the best of moods. We’ll talk more about this tomorrow. But for now, I want you to go and take a nice long shower. Then we’re going to bed.”
Jules mouth fell open. “I-I-I…huh?” How did they get from talking about Fallen Angels to taking showers? He was actually dizzy from the abrupt shift in conversation. And he wasn’t even going to think about the ‘going to bed’ remark. “Well, I think
Anslee pulled Jules up on his toes and jerked him closer. “And Ithink this subject is done for now. You can either go take a shower… or I can help you take a shower. And I’ll tell you now, if I get my hands on wet, naked skin you will be mated this night. Your choice, Jules.”
Jules was stunned at the power coursing through Anslee’s body. Christ, Anslee was hard against him… which reminded him that Anslee had some wild idea about claiming him as a mate. Shit, he’d totally forgotten about that little thing in the midst of all the other, bigger things. Jules’ breath caught when he looked into Anslee’s eyes. They burned with desire… and something else. Something dark and needy. Whoa, that’s new. Jules swallowed. Every fiber of his being said not to fight against Anslee.
“I, ah… yeah. A shower sounds really great right about now.” Jules cautiously stepped away once he found his feet back on the floor.
“Good idea, Jules. Get what you need from the bedroom too.”
“Umm yeah, okay. Will do.”Jules hurried out of the living area. What the hell had just happened? He’d been scared of Anslee, sure, but not like this. No, something had changed there at the last few minutes. It was almost like he’d pushed too far with all this talk of wars and angels, and Anslee had… what?
Jules ducked into the bathroom and turned the shower on as hot as he could stand it. He yanked off his shirt and started to pull his jeans off when what Anslee said hit him. Anslee wasn’t an angel anymore, but he hadn’t been thrown down to Hell. That meant he wasn’t a demon, either, right? So, what was he? Could he be a little of both? His eyes had certainly burned earlier. Hell, they’d almost glowed. Jules leaned against the bathroom wall, head buried in his hands.
Maybe ‘hell’ wasn’t the best word choice.
“What am I going to do if he wants to… fuck me?”
Jules mind raced. He didn’t think Anslee would rape him, but then, what did he know? If Anslee was partly evil then… Jules stood up. No, he didn’t believe that. He’d said stop earlier and Anslee had stopped. Granted, Anslee’s behavior toward humans was borderline atrocious, but that didn’t mean he was evil, just… misguided.
If anything, with his power, Anslee could’ve taken him anytime he wanted—done anything he wanted. Who could’ve stopped him? Right, no one. Instead, he’d been fairly patient. Anslee hadn’t flipped out when he ran. No, he’d just waited for Jules to show up. That wasn’t an evil person.
A sudden tapping on the bathroom door had Jules nearly jumping of out his skin. “Uh, yeah?”
“Go take your shower, Jules, and stop thinking so much. I swear, I can hear your mind going a mile a minute, even out here.”
Jules put his hand on the door. That didn’t sound like an evil man, either. “Yeah, okay. I’ll be out shortly.”
“Take your time. I’m not going anywhere.”
Jules finished stripping and got in the shower. Neither, apparently, was he.

Thirty minutes later Anslee heard Jules shut off the shower. He’d been debating knocking on the bathroom door, just to see if Jules answered.
Anslee fully expected to see something resembling a prune wander out of the bathroom. He was well aware Jules was wasting time in the shower and, as annoying as that was, he did understand. Jules needed some time. He wasn’t the only one. While Jules emptied the hot water heater, he’d spent the time thinking about what Jules had said—and still didn’t know how he felt about the ideas Jules had thrown out.
Eventually, he’d shoved all thoughts out of his head. They could wait, but the human who was currently stalling in the shower couldn’t. He’d closed the curtains in the bedroom and switched the TV on, but turned the sound down low. Jules needed to sleep, and Anslee was determined they rest in the bed, together.
A sound at the door drew Anslee’s attention. There stood Jules, dressed in night pants and rubbing his damp hair with a towel. But the look on Jules’ face had Anslee’s heart clutching. Jules looked so lost.
Anslee held out his hand. “You need to rest, Jules. Come.”
Jules hesitated by the door. “I, ah…There’re some extra night pants in the dresser, if you want them.”
Anslee could read between the lines.“Would that make you feel… safer?”
“God, yes.” Jules eyes widened. “I mean, ah… shit.”
“I understand.” Anslee stood and folded the bedspread back. “You do realize that thin material wouldn’t protect you, right? That is, if I wanted to mate you.”
Jules scowled. “Are you trying to get me to sleep in the bathtub? Because I have to tell you, when you say things like that—”
Anslee stood by the bed, waiting. What had he said this time? Even if Jules were dressed in armor, it wouldn’t stop him if he wanted to mate the human. “I was just stating a fact.”
Jules threw the towel at Anslee. “Yeah, well, mind keeping your little factoids to yourself?”
Anslee snorted and threw the towel back. While his human was occupied, he stripped out of his shirt and pants. Maybe seeing his body would help loosen Jules up. Before the thought had time to fade, a pair of night pants wrapped around his head. Okay, maybe not. Someone certainly had good aim.
Anslee changed and sat on the bed. When Jules didn’t move from the door, Anslee patted the empty space next to him, trying to lure Jules. He hoped if he was already in bed, Jules wouldn’t feel boxed in by him. Maybe that was wishful thinking on his part. Maybe this whole damn thing was a waste of time. He should just grab Jules, throw him on the bed, and have done with it. Just take what he wanted and to hell with it all. Simple and direct. Then all this silly tiptoeing around, worrying about feelings, would finally come to an…
“Don’t hog the sheet, okay? I can’t stand a sheet hog.”
Anslee’s jaw snapped closed. Damn, he hadn’t realized his mouth had been hanging open. Jules was there, in the bed—and he gotten there all on his own.
“I will certainly endeavor not to.” Anslee had to admit having Jules come to him was much better than using force. He actually felt… good. With a sigh, he lay down next to Jules. Moments later, the light next to the bed went out.
“Can we watch TV for a little while?”
“If you wish.”
Up went the sound on the TV. Maybe a little mindless entertainment might help. He certainly hoped so; Jules was stiff as a board next to him. Time crawled by, but finally Jules relaxed and started flipping through the channels.
“Want to watch this?”
Anslee looked at the TV screen. It was some cooking show, but who cared. “That’s fine by me. I don’t watch much TV.”
“I really like the show. This guy comes across as such an ass, but I think he’s a nice guy. That niceness just may be buried a bit.”
Anslee focused on the show. Ah yes, he knew that so-called chef. “Buried quite a bit deep, I would think. He certainly doesn’t censor his words.”
They listened to a long beeping sound before the chef launched into another verbal attack. “I think it’s all an act for TV.”
Anslee snorted. An act—ha, his ass. Should he tell Jules the guy was actually a Lord? Granted, he wasn’t a dark lord—his hair was blond—but he was still a lord. And he wasan ass, until one got to know him. Part of his bad attitude may have to do with the fact he was still looking for his mate. And the guy could cook, there was no denying that.
As they watched the show, Jules snuggled down in the bed, yawning. By the time the program went off, Jules was fast asleep. Anslee found the remote and turned the TV off. Jules was sound asleep, so Anslee wrapped himself around his human. He did have to admit it was nice having Jules next to him, all sleepy and snuggly. Hopefully, Jules wouldn’t freak out in the morning. Smirking at the thought, he allowed himself to fall asleep.
He wasn’t smirking for long.

Anslee grunted in his sleep. He did not want to remember.
A single angel was created, the first of any kind, and the angel’s name was called out. From the holy light of Heaven, the angel emergedglorious, beautiful, and powerful. The angel was named Heylel.
Anslee threw his arm over his face. The name meant glorious and exalted Morningstar, Son of the Dawn. Or, in other words... trouble.
The angel would announce My coming, just as the Morningstar heralds the rising of the sun to light the world. I, and my Morningstar, formed the heavens, earth, and everything in between. Brothers and sisters were created for the Morningstar, and names were called out. Michael, the second angel, arose. Then another name was called, and a third angel, Ariel, came forth. More names were calledGabriel, Uriel, Raphael, Azrael, Camael, Beelzebub, Samael, Rameel, Ashmodai, Mephistopheles. These first twelve angels, the oldest, would be the highest leaders of angels.
Anslee rolled over to his side, but he couldn’t get away from that damn voice. Oh yes, Anslee remembered now. Pride had gotten the best of the Morningstar. He believed himself to be God's equal. In what was basically a coup, the Morningstar tried to gain God's power and position. If God hadn’t placed Jesus where he did, at his side and above the Morningstar, none of this might have happened.
But then again, the Morningstar was an arrogant little fucker anyhow. The whole thing was sort of a big fuck you—he’s over you and everyone else, so deal. Needless to say, that hadn’t gone over well. Michael turned his back on his brother, the Morningstar, and the war in Heaven began.
A third of the angels sided with the Morningstar, and the war waged. Many angels on both sides died, or as much as an angel can die. Michael was victorious and cast the Morningstar out of Heaven. Every angel who had followed the Morningstar was dragged down with him to a new place that was no longer earth, but some place darker. A place that came to be called Hell.
Except for a chosen few who were not cast down to Hell. They were given the… opportunity to redeem themselves. You are one of those few. The time has come, Anslee, to make a choice. Don’t waste this. It’s your only chance.

Anslee opened his eyes, stared up at the darkened ceiling, his mind racing with memories and things he did not want to relive. A quick check showed Jules was still asleep. Restless, and knowing he wouldn’t sleep more this night, Anslee carefully rose from the bed. He walked to the living area, turning on a table lamp as he passed. Flopping down on the couch, he buried his head in his hands.
“Why now? Why show me this now, damn you?” He wanted to shout to whatever had been talking to him in his dream to just hold on, that he wasn’t some… what? Angel? Demon? Fallen Angel? All of the above? “I was perfectly happy not remembering!”
Not that it seemed to matter now.
“Ah shit.” Who was he kidding? He’d not only picked the wrong side in a war, he’d then gone on to have doubts right in the middle of the whole damn thing. Because of who he chose to follow, he’d gotten his ass kicked out of Heaven.
How many could claim such a glowing achievement?
Anslee snorted. He remembered it all now, and it wasn’t pretty. Too late, he, and some others, had questioned the Morningstar... otherwise known as Satan. What was that saying about pride going before a fall?
Not that it had mattered. The archangel Michael had defeated Satan, and they’d been tossed out like yesterday’s garbage. Guess he should be thankful he hadn’t ended up in Hell like so many of his brothers.
But what was this opportunity to redeem himself the Lord had given him? And it was the Father who had spoken to him; he knew that—even if the sheer thought did freak him out. When Jules had first brought the Bible out, he’d called it tired old tripe. Had he known somewhere in his foggy memories what bullshit he’d uttered? Maybe. Frankly, he didn’t care. He wasn’t what anyone would call the ideal candidate for holiness.
Um, he liked the pleasures of the flesh way too much. Plus, he didn’t do the whole bowing and scraping thing well, either.
So, back to what exactly this opportunity was. It revolved around Jules; he knew that without a doubt. None of this shit started happening until he saw Jules at the service station that cold night. He couldn’t even blame Jules for this—he’d been the one to present the lotto ticket and the opportunity that went with it. Jules took the lotto ticket, sealing his fate… and Anslee’s, apparently. Now he had to figure out what he and Jules had gotten themselves into.
He’d been told he had a choice to make.
“Okay, fine. I’ll make that choice—just as soon as I figure out what the hell it is.” Anslee glared at the ceiling. “Want to drop a few hints? A little clue, maybe? Something?
“Yeah, of course not. That would’ve been much too easy, right? I might’ve only been a minor angel, but come on. Give me something here. How am I supposed to get this right if I don’t even know what the hell the choice is? By damn, why can’t you, for once, tell us something straight up without all the fucking riddles? Maybe if you’d been a little clearer some of us wouldn’t have followed the Morningstar. Ever thought of that?”
“Anslee?” Jules looked around. “Who are you talking to? Everything okay?”
That straight enough for you, Anslee?

“No, that’s not straight enough, thank you very much.”
“Ahhh, do what? Anslee, man, I hate to interrupt, but you’re not making any sense. What’s not straight enough?”
“Oh, good God.” Anslee dropped his head back in his hands.
Jules stood in the middle of the living area, staring at Anslee. His long dark hair was a mess, his eyes were wild, and he was arguing with himself… rather loudly. It was what had awakened Jules in the first place. Huh, could Fallen Angels have nervous breakdowns? Because if they could, Anslee looked like he’d qualify. Annoyed didn’t even cover the tension that surrounded Anslee. Maybe pissed, with a side helping of confusion thrown in, would be more of an apt description.
Jules edged farther into the living area. “Who were you taking to? Or were you just thinking out loud?”
Anslee lifted his head. “I was just… talking to myself, I guess you could say. Nothing important. I didn’t mean to wake you, Jules.”
The tension was thick as molasses, and Jules couldn’t stand it. It really needed to be broken. His lips twitched and he grinned. “So, did the two of you work things out?”
“Um… huh?”
“Well, you said you were talking to yourself, so I just wondered what y’all decided.”
Anslee shook his head, a smile crossing his face. “Have mentioned what a smart-ass you are?”
“Maybe, in passing. Once or twice.” Jules sat by Anslee. There was something Anslee wasn’t telling him, but he decided to let it pass. “So, having trouble sleeping?”
“Yes, actually.”
“And you seem a little tense.” Jules choked back a snort. Yeah, Anslee was, just a bit. “Tell you what. How about we have a glass of wine? What I’ve got isn’t what you’re probably used to, but it’ll get the job done. Maybe that’ll help you sleep.”
Anslee put his hand on Jules’ knee. “I must admit, after all that has gone on between us, I am slightly amazed you’d give a damn about my ability to sleep. So, thank you, Jules.”
“I… ah… yeah. No prob. Be right back.”
Jules was off the couch and in the kitchen in a flash. Anslee wasn’t the only one ‘slightly amazed’ at his behavior. What the hell was he thinking? Why should he care if Anslee could sleep or not? When had he started to give a damn? Shit. Jules grabbed the wine and opened it… then drank straight from the bottle. Instead of drinking from it, maybe he should bash himself over the head with it?
“I care, dammit. How the hell did that sneak in?”
Lost in thought, he looked outside. Morning was creeping over the horizon and there was a thick mist on the ground. He had an early class today, but there was no way he was going to make it. Too little sleep, and he had plans for that wine. Quickly, he fixed him and Anslee each a glass. As tempted as he was to drink straight out of the bottle… that might cause questions he wasn’t ready to answer.
Jules brought the glasses back to the living area. Anslee was still on the couch, looking as shell-shocked as Jules felt. Whatever had happened while he was asleep… well, he didn’t want to know about it. He had enough of his own problems to deal with right now.
“Here you go.”
“Ah, thank you.” Jules held his hand out for the glass.
“I didn’t have any fancy wine glasses, so hope these are okay.” Jules jumped when his fingers brushed Anslee’s. Shit, that hadn’t happened before.
“At this point, you could hand it to me in a drinking horn and I wouldn’t care.”
“Yeah, kinda of how I feel.” Jules wrinkled his nose as he sat down next to Anslee. A drinking horn? Really? “Okay, I have to ask. Have you drank from… you know.”
Anslee coughed out a laugh. “I have indeed. My favorites were the drinking horns made by the Vikings. They were were made from domestic cattle or goats. You’d be surprised what Man has come up with through the ages to hold his drink in.”
Well, now, didn’t that just bring everything roaring back? What a wakeup call. Jules tipped the glass back, gulping down his wine. He so wasn’t thinking about all that right now. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Anslee drinking steadily too. Shit. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. Last thing I need is a drunk Fallen Angel to deal with.
Fallen Angel. Oh, fuck me. How did my life turn into this?
Anslee held his glass out for a refill.
Jules blanked his face. Wow, that was fast. Really fast. Anslee practically downed the glass. “Ah, one glass should be enough, don’t you think?”
Anslee’s eyebrow rose. “Worried about your virtue? Don’t be, little one. If I haven’t taken what I wanted by now, no amount of booze—or anything else, for that matter—will change that. Besides, this isn’t enough to make me lose control and force you. I don’t want you unwilling, Jules. I want you very, very willing.” Anslee leaned closer. “Panting, gasping, moaning with need, and willing to do whatever I demand. When I make you come, you will scream with pleasure, not fear. That’s what I want.”
Jules swallowed. Anslee was close enough to kiss, and suddenly all Jules could focus on was Anslee’s lips. Jesus, the man had a mouth made for sucking cock. Why had he never noticed that before? Holy smokes, is it hot in here?
“Not to me. Are you hot, Jules?”
“Aw fuck, did I say that out loud?” Jules squeaked.
Anslee touched his lips to Jules’, then sat back. “Finish your wine and let’s go back to bed. It’s been a long night and you need to rest.”
“Yeah, right, rest.”OMG, he kissed me!
Jules followed Anslee to the bedroom, his nerves jumping. Anslee had kissed him. Okay, it wasn’t the hottest kiss he’d ever had—it probably wouldn’t show up on the Richter scale, but still... And what Anslee had said about moaning with need, panting, gasping… screaming with pleasure... That had lit him right up.
Anslee pulled the covers back, got into bed, and patted the space in front of him, showing Jules clearly where he was supposed to lay. Resting on his elbow, Anslee was the picture of decadence. All that long dark hair spread out around him, his night pants riding low, that sexy treasure trail, those dark eyes trained on him… Jules gulped.
He’d never noticed what good shape Anslee was in. Probably been too busy freaking out. Anslee was buff, ripped, cut… however you wanted to describe it, the fact was the man had a body that made him drool. Anslee had a six-pack he wanted to explore… with his tongue. And then, after that, take the exploration farther south. Holy hell, he was getting hard. His libido had picked a hell of a time to wake up and take notice of the body in his bed.
“Come on, I don’t bite.” Anslee grinned suddenly. “Unless you want me to, that is.”“I, ah… Jesus. Just shut up and move over a little. My bed isn’t that big.” He was not going there, just wasn’t.
Jules lay down, his body as stiff as petrified wood; and fuck him, that wasn’t the only thing stiff. The arm Anslee threw over his body didn’t help matters, nor did being pulled into a close embrace. His back was glued to Anslee’s chest, and dammit to hell and back, there was something hard against his ass too. Anslee’s warm breath against the back of his neck made his body tingle and his toes curl. He was never going to go to sleep like this—lose his mind maybe, but not sleep.
He lay there, barely breathing, and thinking of every horrible nightmare he’d had about midterms, coming to class naked, and failing the semester. Nothing worked; his cock was still stiff and aching. Time for plan B… otherwise known as counting sheep. After about ten minutes of that, he caught himself humming Old MacDonald. Disgusted, he blew out a breath.
“Whatever were you just doing?” Anslee whispered against the sensitive skin on his neck.
Chill bumps rose and Jules had to fight not to squirm. So distracted by the warm puff of air against his skin, he answered without thinking. “Counting sheep.”
“Un-huh. Counting sheep.” Anslee’s fingers slipped under Jules T-shirt. “Why?”
Jules nearly came off the bed when Anslee’s warm fingers glided across his stomach, making the muscles twitch. “I-I count sheep when I can’t sleep.”
“Count sheep. I see.” Anslee threw his leg over Jules. “Wouldn’t you rather count something else?”
Jules fought to keep his eyes from rolling back in his head. The hard cock nudging his ass really got his attention now that Anslee had shifted positions. “Huh? Like what?”
“Um, like how many times I can make you come in one night?”
“Alrighty then!” Jules, panic creeping in, struggled to unwrap all the arms and legs that were holding him down. When had Anslee morphed into a damn octopus? “What the fuck are you doing, Anslee?”
Anslee sighed, letting Jules move away. “I said I wouldn’t force you. I never said I wouldn’t seduce you, Jules.”
“Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!” Jules struggled to sit up, sure he had that panicky wild-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights look plastered across his face.
Anslee snorted, looking down at the rapidly decreasing tent in his night pants. “If you’re trying to break the mood by throwing God in the middle of bed with us, I think you may have succeeded. Anslee junior here is certainly retreating fast.”
Jules goggled at Anslee, for once struck dumb. Anslee junior? Seriously? Anslee did not just call his cock… Jules lips twitched, then he slapped himself mentally. No! No, no, no, no. Oh, he was in trouble—big, fat, hairy, fucking trouble with a capital T. When the hell had Anslee gone and gotten himself a sense of humor? Anslee couldn’t do that! It was against the rules. This wasn’t good, really wasn’t good. He loved men with a sense of humor. That was his one weakness.
“I-I-I…” God, he sounded like a broken record. Jules cringed. He was so not thinking about God right now, not after the image Anslee had stuck in his head. “Behave, dammit.”
A sultry smile slid across Anslee’s face. “Just giving far warning.”
Jules’ cock actually jumped in his night pants at that look. He was screwed… figuratively and, very possibly, literally. As long as Anslee acted like a bossy ass, he could ignore how sexy the man was, but now? Now that he’d changed and was acting… Oh, crap. Anslee was acting like he might give a damn about Jules and his feelings. Like he was willing to learn about Jules, know his wants and desires. Like Jules actually mattered to him. Like he wasn’t out to break Jules and bend him to his will.
Like… shit. He was so screwed. Screwed, screwed, screwed. Which was probably not the best terminology to use at the moment.
Jules glared at Anslee. “Let me repeat: behave, dammit. Or I’m sleeping on the couch. I need my rest, remember? You even agreed.” Hey, he was desperate. He’d use whatever he had to in order to get Anslee to back off.
“Indeed you do, so I will… How did you say it? Behave, dammit.”
Jules slowly lay back down, Anslee’s arm coming around him once more. Satisfied he’d made his point, he tried to go to sleep…again.
He was just drifting off when Anslee whispered in his ear, “For now.”
Yup, he was in big, big trouble.

Chapter Five
As disappointed as he was, Anslee reined himself in. Now was not the time to let his dick rule him. He’d actually made some strides with Jules tonight and didn’t want to ruin that progress, even as tempted as he was to push. He was in bed with his human, Jules wasn’t trying to brain him with something, and Anslee had learned a very important lesson—when stressed, Jules resorted to sarcasm as a defense. The kid had a naturally smart mouth on him, but it was worse when Jules felt threatened; and he threatened Jules, of that Anslee had little doubt.
The soft snores brought a smile to Anslee’s lips. Jules had finally gone to sleep, it seemed. Anslee smoothed Jules’ hair back from his neck. Too bad he was wide-awake. Anslee snorted… Maybe he should count sheep. Of course, that made him remember his comment about counting orgasms, and Anslee found himself wishing Jules would wake up. Not that it would change a damn thing. Jules wasn’t ready to be sexually… well, anything…and Anslee found himself puzzled as to why he cared one way or the other.
“Damn humans,” he whispered. They did nothing but stir up trouble and had from the very beginning. Okay, that wasn’t historically correct. A certain female had been tempted.
Anslee shifted closer, and the fragrance he was coming to recognize as Jules’ own unique scent wafted up to him. His cock hardened and he tightened his grip. The urge to thrust against Jules’ ass was driving him crazy. Even with several layers of clothes between them, his human’s body gave off enough heat to scorch Anslee… and make him yearn.
Anslee buried his nose against the soft skin at the back of Jules’ neck and inhaled deeply. He was driving himself slowly insane, but he couldn’t help it. He wanted this human in a way he’d never wanted another. And, of course, the one he desired was busy holding him at arm’s length. That simply must change. Anslee kissed the back of Jules’ neck, silently promising that it would change.
By all that was holy or not, Jules would need like he did.
A soft murmur sounded from Jules and he shifted backwards, his ass rubbing against Anslee’s groin. Anslee closed his eyes, soundlessly praying for patience as he tried not to thrust against that firm ass snuggled so temptingly against him. A displeased grunt from Jules drifted back to Anslee. Anslee exhaled slowly and opened his eyes. At least when he was asleep, Jules sought him out… and wanted him. Now all Anslee had to do was find a way to make Jules lower his guard while awake.
“I’d better be getting points for good behavior, little one,” Anslee whispered, slightly amused at himself. Jules had told him to behave and he was—astounding as that seemed. “What would my fellow Lords think if they could see me now?”
They’d think he’d lost his mind, that’s what they’d damn well think. With dawn approaching, he contemplated his situation. Thing was, he wasn’t sure he could argue with them. None of them would understand why he didn’t just take what he wanted. They wouldn’t understand why this small human was any different from all the others. He wasn’t sure, either; he just knew Jules was. This fragile being played an important role in his life. Now he had to figure out what that role was, dammit. He’d been told this was his last chance and not to mess it up. Dire words, certainly.
Anslee closed his eyes again. Enough of this, dammit. I’m tired, daylight is coming, and I need to rest. God knows I need my wits around me to deal with Jules. Tomorrow is a new day and we will start off on a new foot. Or is it we got off on the wrong foot? Maybe I’d better go to sleep so I won’t be so tired tomorrow I stickmy foot in my mouth. Ah God, listen to me. I’m giddy from lack of sleep.
Anslee yawned and stopped thinking.

Jules lay in the dark, not moving, and barely breathing. Anslee’s talking to himself had woke him up. He’d felt the erection nestled against him, and the insane urge to do something about it had nearly gotten the better of him. Things were changing… no, no, that wasn’t right. Anslee was changing, and what was he going to do about that?
As he lay in the dark, listening to Anslee, one thing became clear to Jules—Anslee needed him. Anslee, his dear Fallen Angel, needed to learn the meaning of love and somehow, someway, he’d been chosen as the one to show Anslee. Jules let sleep take him over again now that Anslee had settled down. He was going to teach a Fallen Angel to love… to love him.
No problem.
While he was at it, he’d solve the conflict in the Middle East, end world hunger, and bring about world peace. Those would probably be easier than what he was about to undertake.

Anslee woke the next day to sunlight, birds singing, and a warm body in his arms. As tempting as it was to stay in bed, Anslee instead slipped out and walked to the kitchen. A quick check of the microwave clock showed it was late in the afternoon. Hungry, he rummaged around in Jules’ kitchen until he found something suitable to eat. There wasn’t much to choose from.
Shaking his head, Anslee ate his sandwich standing up. Even though Jules had won that lotto money, he still lived frugally. Jules’small apartment was okay, but Anslee missed the creature comforts of his home. The hemmed-in spaces of Jules’ apartment were getting to him. Hell, his master bathroom was the size of Jules’ bedroom. Speaking of his bathroom, he needed a shower and fresh clothes.
It was time to change locales.
Mind made up, he strode back to Jules’ bedroom and flipped on the light. Jules had to have a suitcase around here, surely. He could pack some clothes and whatever toiletries Jules needed for an extended stay. Anslee threw open the closet—ah, there was what he was looking for on the top shelf—and started to pull clothes out.
Frowning, he noticed the condition of what he held in his hands. Old, faded, and threadbare described Jules’ wardrobe. When was the last time Jules had been clothes shopping? Most of what was in here he would’ve tossed out a long time ago.
“Okay, just what do you think you’re doing?”
Anslee turned from the closet. “Ah, good, you’re awake.”
Jules sat up in bed and rubbed his hands over his face. “Turning on the overhead light pretty much insured I would be.”
Anslee threw some more clothes in the suitcase. “Sorry about that, but I needed to be able to see.”
“Which brings me nicely back to my earlier question of what are you doing?”
Anslee stared at the clothes in the suitcase, frowning, then snapped his fingers. He moved from the closet to the dresser and opened it. Socks and underwear soon joined the unorganized mess in the suitcase. “I’m helping you pack.”
“Helping me pack? Uh-huh. Anslee, I have to actually be packing in order for you to help. What the hell are you doing?”
“We’re going to my home.”
Jules climbed out of bed as Anslee walked into the bathroom. “Right.”
Moments later, Anslee returned, his hands full. “I thought you’d want your own shampoo and… What are you doing?”
“That does seem to be the question of the day, doesn’t it?” Jules stood at the closet, hanging clothes back.
“Do you not want to take some of your own clothes?”
Jules suddenly turned. “I’m not going anywhere, so there’s no need for me to pack.”
“We’re going to my home. I told you that.”
You may be going home. I, on the other hand, am going to eat breakfast… right after I finish cleaning up this mess you made.”
Anslee grabbed the clothes Jules had hung up and pitched them back in the suitcase. “You can eat at my house. There damn sure isn’t anything here to eat. I happen to have a fully stocked kitchen.”
“Well, bully for you.” Jules let out a short, sharp scream as Anslee flung some socks, in the suitcase, Jules had just put back in the drawer. He pointed a finger at Anslee. “Dude, I’ve been up maybe ten minutes. I get woke up with a light glaring in my eyes, then I see you throwing my shit in a suitcase, and… and… all before I’ve had coffee! I’m not going anywhere so stop fucking lobbing my crap in that suitcase!”
Anslee put his hands on his hips and glared at Jules. “I should’ve known you’d be difficult.”
“Difficult?” Jules growled. “Did you say difficult? Buddy, you haven’t even seen difficult yet. But you’re damn sure about to.”
Anslee threw his hands up in the air. Humans! He’d never understand them. “What’s your problem? Your apartment is so small, Jules. My home is bigger, has a pool, a rec room, tennis courts, lovely gardens to walk through—”
“You didn’t ask me!”
“Oh good God, give me strength. You didn’t ask me to come with you, Anslee. You just took it upon yourself to pack my things and load me up… Just throw my ass in the car and take me home. I’m not an object like that suitcase. I have feelings and, unlike that suitcase, I am capable of thinking and making decisions.”
“I didn’t stop to think—”
“Exactly! Anslee, you just go and do whatever the hell it is you want without any consideration for anyone else.”
“I’ve never had to!” Anslee yelled finally. “This is all new to me! There’s never been someone I cared enough for to take the time to…” Anslee trailed off.
Jules and Anslee stared at each other. Time slowed to a crawl until, at last, Jules spoke. “Ask me, Anslee.”
More minutes passed. Finally, Anslee took a deep breath. “I would like for you to see my home. I would like for you to stay there for a while.”
Jules slowly nodded his head. “I… I’d like that.”
“Good,” Anslee said.
“Good,” Jules answered back.
Alrighty then. Guess that was settled.
“Why don’t you go start the coffee? I’ll straighten out this mess and finish packing. Then we can go. If you feel up to it, maybe you could fix me breakfast at your home—since you have a fully stocked kitchen and all.”
“Coffee sounds good, and I’d be more than happy to cook for you.” Anslee left Jules in the bedroom and returned to the kitchen. Jules wasn’t the only one who needed a good, strong, bracing cup of coffee now. These human emotions were going to drive him insane.

Jules straightened out the mess Anslee made of his clothes and met Anslee in the kitchen, suitcase in hand. Jules’ heart thumped madly in his chest. This was a big step he was taking. He’d no longer be on his own turf and, in a way, he’d be completely at Anslee’s mercy. Jules shrugged off the unsettling thought—he’d pretty much been at Anslee’s mercy since he’d cashed in that lotto ticket. The only difference this time was he went willingly.
After a quick stop at the bank, Anslee drove them to his home. Jules gazed at the tree-lined street as they drove out of town. He’d expected Anslee to live in one of the high-end subdivisions that catered to the elite. What he found, as they continued to drive for another hour, was that Anslee liked his privacy. A lot.
“Just how much farther?”
“Oh, we’ve been on my land for the past few miles.”
Jules stared out the window as yet more trees flashed by. As best as he could tell, there was nothing out here but a whole lot of nothing… and trees. Lots and lots of trees…just endless miles of woods.
“Are you sure you aren’t lost?”
Anslee snorted. “See that dirt road on the left?”
Jules peered out the window. If Anslee hadn’t pointed out there was a road, he would’ve missed it. “Yeah, what about it?”
“That’ll take us to my home.”
Eyebrow hiked, Jules turned to face Anslee. “A dirt road?”
“Yes. Inconspicuous, isn’t it?”
“I’ll say.” Jules didn’t know for sure what he expected, but a simple dirt road out in the middle of no-fucking-where wasn’t it. Jesus, Anslee made out like his house was something grand. He knew he hadn’t misunderstood Anslee and, frankly, he was getting worried. His place, at least, had electricity and running water. What had be gotten himself into now?
“I do wish you could see your face.” Anslee’s laugh filled the car. “Your thoughts are plain to see, Jules. I promise you, my home has all the modern conveniences.”
“No hiking to an outhouse to use the bathroom?”
Anslee patted Jules’ knee. “No outhouses.”
“Good. I don’t think I could… Holy shit. Holy shit! Is… Is this all yours?”
The dirt road led up to something that looked like it was out of a dream, or Better Homes and Gardens. The house was huge, with massive white columns in front, a long porch, more windows than you could count, and… gardens everywhere, trees, a rather big pond… Yeah, this beat his apartment, hands down.
“It’s all mine. The house is located on one hundred fifty acres too. The pond in front of the house is stocked, but in the back is a small lake that’s better for boating and swimming. Of course, there is a pool, tennis courts, many trails to hike along, with ATV’s, if you prefer to ride—”
“Fuck, are you Price Charming? Does that make me the ugly princess who’s gonna turn into a pumpkin with a bite from a poison apple?”
“Good grief, Jules. You just massacred several fairy tales in those two sentences. Impressive.”
Jules rolled his eyes. This was impressive… all this in front of him. He couldn’t wrap his head around the amount of money Anslee must have spent to have such a place. The taxes alone would probably make him faint. The fifty thousand he’d won probably wouldn't pay the electric bill on this place for a month.
“You’re really rich, aren’t you?” Oh dear God, he was so out of his league. “I mean, really stinking rich, right?”
Anslee smirked. “Want to know my bottom dollar?”
“Shit a brick, no!” Jules shook his head madly. “Absolutely not. I don’t ever want to know.”
An actual figure would intimidate the hell out of him. He was nothing more than a regular Joe who didn’t aspire to have more money than God, jet off to faraway places, or live in a home where he needed GPS just to find the damn bathroom.
“Only you would get freaked about my money and not the fact I’m a Fallen Angel.”
Jules huffed out a breath as they pulled into what Anslee called his garage. There were so many cars, bikes, trucks… God, a family of four could live in what Anslee laughingly called a garage… comfortably.
“What you are rates high on the freak out scale, trust me. But you don’t have Fallen Angel tattooed across your forehead, so I can ignore it. But this…” Jules waved his hand at the vehicles’ around them. “This is a lot harder to ignore. Everywhere I look there’s proof of how rich you are staring me in the face.”
“Jules, I’ve been on this earth for a very long time. Of course I have money.” Anslee shrugged. “But it’s just money.”
“Hmm, says the man who’s never had to worry about money, or the lack thereof.”
Anslee turned the car off and turned to face Jules. “Instead of sitting here arguing, why don’t we go inside and get you settled?”
Jules looked around. Man, this garage was monstrous, and temperature-controlled too. Of course. “Fine. I’m sure there’s something to argue about in there too.”
“Instead of arguing, how about I cook breakfast? I did offer.”
Jules stepped out of the car and waited while Anslee grabbed his suitcase out of the back. “I am kinda hungry.”
“Good. I would like to cook for you.”
Jules followed Anslee inside. After breakfast, they could argue about where exactly Anslee planned on ‘settling’ him. Jules had a feeling he was soon to see Anslee’s bedroom.
Yup, another argument loomed on the horizon.

Chapter Six
Anslee was a pretty good cook, as Jules found out. He asked what Jules’ favorites were and whipped up a meal that was worthy of a top chef. Jules ate every bite and even asked for seconds. Had Anslee been a chef at some point in his life?
After breakfast, Anslee showed Jules around his home. Once the tour was over, Anslee picked up Jules’ suitcase and motioned for Jules to follow him. Sure enough, Anslee headed to what looked like his bedroom.
“Um, while this room is nice and all, I thought—”
“Never a good thing.”
Jules scowled at Anslee. “Funny. What I was going to say was maybe I should stay in the guest room.”
“Why in the world would you do that?”
Why, indeed? “I just thought—”
Anslee shook his head as he hauled Jules’ suitcase into the room. “You think too much. Besides, I want you here, with me.”
“Well, you know what they say: you can’t always get what you want.”
“Actually, I can.”
The scowl on Jules’ face deepened.
Anslee held up his hand. “But instead of forcing the issue, I’ll ask instead that you stay in here with me.”
Jules blew out a breath. He knew Anslee wanted him close, and he also knew this could turn into an all-out fight if he pushed. Truth be told, he didn’t know why he was even making such a fuss. They had slept together in his bed, after all. God, he was tired of everything being a fight, but he also knew Anslee would walk all over him given half a chance. Plus, Anslee had given his word he wouldn’t force the issue of sex between them, and he trusted Anslee.
It was possible he needed his head examined, but there you go. He did trust Anslee. What Jules was more worried about was Anslee saying he fully intended to seduce Jules… and his own resolve not to let that happen. Anslee had to learn to treat Jules as an equal. Start off as you mean to go, and all that.
Wasn’t he just full of old sayings today?
Jules looked around. Thing was, he couldn’t teach Anslee if he wasn’t with him. So he’d have a good case of blue balls. Jules mentally shrugged. It would be worth it, he hoped. “Okay.”
Anslee’s head snapped around. “Really?”
Jules rolled his eyes. “Do you want to fight about me staying in here?”
“Absolutely not.”
Jules opened his suitcase. “Got some extra hangers or drawer space? I need to hang a few things up or they’re going to be wrinkled.”
Anslee was pushing his clothes out of the way to make room in the closet before Jules finished the sentence. Then he focused on drawer space. Jules bit his lip to keep from laughing at the eagerness Anslee showed as he shoved his own personal things out of the way.
“Need any help?” Anslee asked when he was finished.
Jules looked at what Anslee called a closet. Damn thing was huge and went on forever. There were shelves all over the place, lights down the center of the room, racks, bins… dear God. He’d seen some fancy closets on those TV shows about the rich and famous, but he never dreamed he’d actually be standing in a closet you’d need a map for.
“Yeah, maybe you should tie a string around my waist so I can find my way back out of this thing. Jesus, Anslee, a family of four could live in what you’re calling a closet.”
A slight hint of red covered Anslee’s cheeks. “I like nice things… and room. Plenty of room so you don’t feel hemmed in.”
Whatever smart remark Jules was about to make died on his tongue. There was a story there, one he’d have to get Anslee to share one day. It dawn on him he didn’t know anything about Anslee’s life after the Great Fall or since. Who knew what Anslee been through? He’d even wondered earlier if Anslee had once been a chef.
Jules unpacked some of his things and placed them in the drawers Anslee had cleared for him. “Well, you certainly have nice things. You know, I’m kind of jealous. Every since I left home I’ve had to watch what I’ve spent and do without. Hope you don’t think bad of me, but I’m looking forward to being a little spoiled.”
Anslee pulled Jules around to face him. “It would be a pleasure to spoil you, little one. All these things really have no meaning unless there’s someone to share them with. I’ve learned this as time has passed.”
Jules rested his head on Anslee shoulder. Dammit, when Anslee said things like that he just wanted to melt into a puddle, preferably on a bed. With Anslee looming over him. Undressed.
Jules patted Anslee’s back. “One day we need to sit down and have a long talk. I’d like to know what you’ve seen and done all this time—both the good and bad too. Can you do that for me? I mean, I really don’t know much about you, the person.”
“One day? Can I take that to mean you plan on sticking around… freely?”
Jules leaned back to look at Anslee. “I guess so. As long as you don’t hit me or force me to do something against my will… Then yeah, I guess I’m saying I’m willing to stay with you and see where this goes. There’s going to be some work involved, but I think you may be worth the effort.”
“Funny, I was thinking the same thing about you.”

Another week passed as Anslee and Jules danced around each other. The sexual tension was thick, but Anslee kept to his promise not to force Jules. The one thing Anslee did demand was Jules’ company. So Jules was expecting an all-out fight when he reminded Anslee about his classes. Jules had invested too much in getting his degree to just drop out now. Surprisingly, there wasn’t an argument from Anslee.
Instead, Anslee had taken Jules into his multi-car garage and told him he could drive any of the vehicles to the campus. He agreed Jules needed to finish college. The only problem that cropped up was Jules couldn’t find one single vehicle to borrow that didn’t cost as much as a small house. After making Anslee tell him the cost of each vehicle, Jules settled on the cheapest one Anslee owned.
Friday evening rolled around once again and Jules found himself on the tennis court, trying to hit a small yellow ball back to Anslee. No one was more relieved than him when dark clouds moved in and halted the game. As lightning flashed, both men hurried off the court, to cover. There was a little storage building near the courts. They both ducked under the awning.
“Saved by the bell.” Jules glanced at the sky. “Well, in this case… saved by the rain.”
Anslee glanced at the darkening sky too. A strong breeze swirled around them. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you somehow planned this.”
Jules shrugged. “Hey, I managed to hit that stupid little ball a few times. What can I say? Tennis may not be my game.”
“You did well for a beginner. We’ll have to keep practicing.”
“Oh goodie.” Jules wiped his sweaty forehead, then pushed his hair out of his eyes. “The wind’s really picking up. I don’t like this funny greenish color the sky is, either. Maybe we need to make a run for the house before this gets really bad.”
The trees whipped back and forth, leaves swirling in the howling wind. Thunder boomed ominously nearby. Jules shivered. The sky had darkened so much it looked as though night had fallen.
Anslee pulled his cell out of his pocket. “Let’s just see what’s coming at us.”
“Good idea. Better yet, let’s get inside then check the radar. I don’t like this. It looks scary out here.”
Anslee frowned as lightning flashed. Both men hurried off the court to find cover. Lightning skipped from cloud to cloud in a macabre, deadly dance. “There’s a big red glob headed in our direction. Says we’re under a severe thunderstorm warning. Yes, it might be best to get indoors. I’ll be right behind you.”
No sooner than Anslee spoke, the skies opened up and the rain came down with a vengeance. Jules raced toward the house. The wind ripped at him as the rain drenched him to the skin. He wiped at his eyes as he ran, his vision blurring.
He was nearly to Anslee’s house when something heavy hit him, knocking him forward. Jules barely had time to get his hands up to break his fall. With a loud grunt, he hit the rain-soaked ground as something heavy landed on his back.
Air knocked out of him, all Jules could do was think the nasty words that rushed through his mind. Whatever was on him moved and Jules was jerked onto his back. Anslee was above him, shouting. Jules couldn’t make out much of what he was saying thanks to the shrieking wind and thunder. What few words he could catch were in another language, something he’d never heard before. Anslee’s long wet hair was plastered to his head and his eyes were bulging. For the first time ever, Anslee looked dangerous.
Before Jules could draw enough air in his lungs to ask what the hell was going on, Anslee yanked him up and Jules stumbled to his feet. It was then Jules saw the dead branch that lay so close to them. The thing was as big as his torso… and was so damn close to… him. As in, right where he had been just a moment before. Jules swayed where he stood. If Anslee hadn’t knocked him forward…
“House! Get to the house!”
Anslee grabbed Jules and propelled him the last few feet. He yanked the door open and practically threw Jules inside. The wailing wind flew through the house as Anslee battled to close the door.
Jules stood stunned, unable to move or think, as Anslee turned to look at him.
“Are you okay?” Anslee rushed to Jules. His hands moved over Jules’ body, searching. “Little one, speak to me. Are you hurt? Did I hurt you when I pushed you down? Jules!”
 Jules stood trembling, partly from being wet and partly from shock. “That limb… Anslee. That thing was huge. It was as big around as me. If it had hit me…”
“Easy now.” Anslee wrapped his arms around Jules. “I know. I saw it falling. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared. Never in my life have I felt such fear. I knew it was going to hit you. It was like everything slowed down and I could plainly see where the damn thing was going to land…. right on top of you.”
Jules’ teeth were chattering. “It… it… oh my God, it could have killed me. Anslee, it could have killed me!”
Anslee rocked Jules gently. “I know. I never want to feel such helplessness again. I was afraid I wouldn’t get to you in time.” Anslee rubbed his hands up and down Jules’ back. “Let’s get you out of these wet clothes and into something warm. Then I think a good stiff drink would be called for, don’t you?”
Jules leaned back so he could see Anslee’s face. “I could have died without… without ever…”
“Without ever what?”
Jules gazed into Anslee’s eyes. “Without ever knowing you.” Jules leaned back so he could see Anslee’s face.
Anslee froze. “What…what are you saying, Jules?”
Jules pushed his rain-soaked hair out of his face. God, he was so cold. He shivered in the air-conditioned house as the wind howled outside. The storm battered the house while his emotions raged inside. “I—” Jules gasped as the lights went out. “Shit, there went the electricity.”
“Fuck the electricity! Tell me what you were going to say.” Anslee tightened his grip on the man in front of him. “Jules, I need to know. Finish what you were saying… please.”
Jules stared into those dark eyes of Anslee’s. The tempest outside had nothing on the storm of emotions he saw swirling in Anslee’s eyes. “I’m ready. No more waiting. I want you… Make love to me, Anslee. Life is too short to screw around and miss out on things.”
Anslee lifted Jules in his arms. “I think I’ve waited a lifetime to hear you say that.”
Jules shivered again.
“But first, let’s get cleaned up.” Anslee carried Jules to his monstrous bathroom.
Jules would drop dead before admitting it, but being carried was kinda sexy. He stood quietly once Anslee set his on his feet. Anslee stripped him, taking time to touch each patch of skin that was uncovered, sending more tremors through him. Once he was naked, Anslee ran his hands over Jules’ body. Jules trembled again, but this time it was from need, not cold or fear.
Anslee turned on the water. “In you go, little one.”
Jules stepped in the shower then turned to look back at Anslee. “Aren’t you coming too?”
“Oh yes.” Anslee stripped off his wet clothes, flinging them aside and crowding close to Jules. “Absolutely.”
Jules reached for a loofah, only to have Anslee take it away from him. “Let me.”
Jules let Anslee move him under the warm spray. God, that felt good on his cold body. “Oh, um… okay. You just want me to stand here?”
Anslee soaped the loofah and reached for Jules. “I want you to just enjoy.”
Jules relaxed as Anslee soaped him from top to bottom, and everywhere in between. Jules moaned softly as Anslee took his time and made sure the sponge lingered on hard nipples, on his jutting cock. Anslee’s touch was gentle, as though Jules was made from spun glass. Where Jules had been expecting rushed touches and frantic gropes, instead he got tender care and loving caresses. Never had he been treated as though his body was a treasure.
Anslee washed his hair, being ever careful to keep the shampoo from his eyes. After Anslee had washed Jules, he cleaned himself up too.
“I would like to… Will you stay in the shower? Give me fifteen minutes? There’s something I would like to do before I take you to bed.”
Jules touched Anslee’s face. “You plotting again?”
Anslee grinned from ear to ear. “When am I not?”
The laugh that bubbled out of Jules surprised both of them. “Truer words. Okay, I can stay here and enjoy the warm water a little longer. No problem.”
“Thank you.” Anslee left the shower and dried off.
Jules noticed Anslee didn’t leave the bathroom immediately. Anslee just stood, staring at him through the steam. Grinning, he pointed to his wrist. Anslee’s laughter followed him from the bathroom.
A short time later, Anslee stuck his head in the bathroom and told Jules to come on out. After Jules dried off, he wrapped the towel around himself and opened the door to the bedroom.
“My God,” Jules whispered.
There were candles all over. The soft light lent a glow to the room that shrieked seduction and romance. The bedspread was turned back, and white satin sheets now graced the bed. Jules knew they were satin because that was all Anslee slept on. And he knew the sheets had been changed because they’d been sleeping on black. Low, soft music played in the background. 
But the best thing in the room was the man who stood by the bed, a slight smile on his face, and black boxers riding low on his hips. He outshone everything else in the room. Jules had to swallow twice before he could speak. “This is beautiful. Just simply beautiful. Thank you, Anslee.”
“This night is special, so I wanted that to be reflected. I’m going to make love to you, Jules, slowly the first time. I’m going to savor every inch of you.” Anslee stepped closer and held out his hand. “Join me? Know that once I have you, there’s no going back… for either of us. I won’t let you go.”
“I know that.” Jules put his hand in Anslee’s. “I’m no longer afraid.”
“Good.” Anslee pulled the towel around Jules’s waist off and dropped it on the floor. “Then… after I make slow love to you, I’m going to fuck you through the mattress. I won’t stop until you scream my name for all to hear. I’m going to fuck your ass so hard, Jules, and you’ll beg for more. You, little one, are mine.”
Jules body reacted, a full body shiver racing through him. “Jesus God, yes.” The room tilted, then spun and Jules found himself on his back amidst the cool sheets. Above him, Anslee stood, staring down, his eyes slowly tracing Jules’s body. Every place Anslee’s eyes lingered, Jules burned.
“You are perfect.”
Jules held his arms up. “Make love to me.”

Anslee’s boxers landed on the floor—he wanted nothing between them. One of his knees hit the side of the bed and both of his fists planted themselves on either side of Jules’ head. He leaned over the one that would soon be his and gently kissed Jules’ lips. “Don’t move until I tell you.”
“Okay.” Jules unwound his arms and let them fall back on the bed after the kiss was finished.
Anslee settled on the bed. He lifted his hand, letting his fingers hover over Jules’ chest. Jules’ small, tight nipples called to him. Being one that never denied himself, he reached out to stroke a hard peak. The sweetness of Jules’ warm skin held untold joys, ones that he planned to explore slowly. Anslee felt Jules tremble under his hand as he explored Jules’ chest. Anslee’s hand moved farther down, Jules’ chest rising and falling rapidly. His finger meandered along Jules’ treasure trail.
“Please,” Jules pleaded. “Touch me, Anslee.”
 Anslee thought about dragging it out, making Jules beg. But… he needed this as much as Jules did. They’d been doing this dance for far too long. He wrapped his fist around Jules’ hard cock, stroking fast, twisting his hand on the upswing. Jules’ hands clutched at the sheets, body arching. Anslee leaned closer, staring into Jules’ eyes.
“I’m not going to let you come—not yet. I’ll be inside you when you spurt that load for me.” Anslee glanced down at the sweet cock he held. He needed to get the lube but damn, he didn’t want to let go. There was something he wanted more… his fingers, then his dick, in Jules’ ass.
“Hold on, little one. I need to get the lube.”
“Oh fuck, Anslee, hurry. Please hurry. I ache.”
“I know.” Oh yes, he knew… he ached too. “You’re not the only one, but I will prepare you.”
Anslee found the lube and rushed back to the bed. Jules lay sprawled across the white shimmering background. He wished one of the great masters had been given the chance to paint Jules thus. Yes, he was that beautiful to Anslee and yes, he’d met the most famous ones.
He crawled back onto the bed, ready to send Jules into a swirling whirlpool of desire… when it hit him. For the first time in his life, he was putting the needs of another before his own, and it felt good. Really damn good.
Huh. Shocking.
Jules bent his knees and spread his legs… offering Anslee everything. A mad rush of desire swamped Anslee and he forgot everything except one thing—that hot little hole of Jules and his need to get inside. He slicked his finger and rubbed it back and forth across Jules’ hole.
“Oh please, let me move. I need to…. I can’t stay still!”
“Dance for me, little one. Show me how I make you feel.” Anslee slipped a finger inside. Fuck, the heat amazed him, as did the tightness.
Jules’ hips arched on the bed. “More… give me more.”
I don’t want to hurt
“You’re not!” Jules tossed his head against the pillows.
Anslee slid another finger deep within Jules, twisting and scissoring, until he felt that little knot of nerves. He pegged Jules’ hot spot, rubbing frantically.
Jules’ body arched on the bed. “Fuck!”
Anslee paused, worried. Had he rushed things? He’d waited so long for this, and if he’d hurt Jules in his rush…
“Don’t you dare stop.” Jules gasped desperately, his head snapping up from the pillow. “Keep finger fucking my ass…just, oh God, open me, dammit. I want you.”
Jules’ eyes burned, not only with desperation, but determination. And that made up Anslee’s mind—Jules knew what he wanted and, by all that was holy, Anslee was going to give it to him. Anslee added another digit, watching as Jules rode his fingers. Jules’ hard dick slapped against his belly as he jerked on the bed, his body ruthless in its hunt for pleasure.
“Damn beautiful,” Anslee breathed.
“Damn needy,” Jules gasped back.
Anslee snorted out a laugh. There was the Jules he knew. And never let it be said he kept his mate waiting when he needed. Anslee used the lube to slick his cock and grabbed Jules’ legs, pulling them up on his shoulders. He positioned himself at Jules’ hole and paused. Calmness came over Jules, and he stopped twisting. Time froze as Anslee stared at Jules.
“Mine,” he snarled.
“Yes.” Jules nodded his head then snapped back in the same tone of voice. “And you are mine too.”
Anslee closed his eyes briefly, the need to laugh nearly strangling him—only his mate would fight to have the last word at a time like this. He had no idea what the future held for them, or how the hell they were going to make this thing between them work… but they would do it together. They were… equals. Yes, he could say the word. He was a Dark Lord and he had, finally, found his equal.
Anslee opened his eyes and drove inside, not stopping until he was fully seated. Anslee yelled as Jules welcomed him into his body, moving with Anslee’s wild thrusts… never once breaking eye contact as they screamed to the edge. With one well-placed move, Anslee plunged them into the abyss. He flooded Jules as Jules shot between them. Anslee had had sex with hundreds of thousands of humans in his long life, but never had he felt anything like this…. This felt like home. It had taken him since Creation, but he finally understood.
Jules was all that he desired.