Readers, if you want some songs to read by, I have a few playlists on Spotify. These are songs that have inspired be, and that speak to the nature of the story, the setting, and the characters. In the case of No Distance Greater than the Stars, a few of the songs are actually referred to in the book. They should make for some great music to read by. You can also see the bands I follow, and maybe discover someone new that way. Happy listening!
After a land has long since become enshrouded in legend, and the light of its glorious past is filtered by the dust of ages, it falls into danger of facing yet another peril. And while that peril should like to disprove the realm’s glory, often it is that a greater legend is born. In a world where history is no different from legend, and prophecies are promises from the gods, unyielding in their faithfulness, reverence and wonder shall never cease. The legends and prophecies written in holy text might not be fully understood, but they are true nonetheless. Even the most esoteric of tales cannot be dissolved by time; the future shall look back upon them to watch the warrior emerge from the flames and tears to prove the might of his spirit.
Legend, in all its richness of glory and tragedy, had birthed the most majestic kingdom known to Lorata. In the grassy plains that roll from the cliffs of Dragonridge Mountains to the waves of Blueshade Ocean, Onsira stood proud and deeply respected. Its rich soil brought verdant life to the plains, dotting it with woodlands cut by streams and ponds. Onsira had long been ruled by a monarchy, its bloodline tied to the greatest of all heroes: Loracaz, Champion of Jenh.
Generations had passed since the hero’s great feat, years that were ruled in peace under centuries-old traditions. Onsira was a kingdom governed by elves, but it welcomed fae-kind as friends. It had even found peace and mutual respect with the dragons, difficult though their history had been. It was a safe and honorable kingdom, said to be blessed by Goddess Jenh herself, and its people prospered.
Late in the fifth millennium of Lorata’s recorded history, that age-old peace came to its end. For those who believed that it would never leave the kingdom, it was a juncture of utmost tragedy, the desperate culmination of the actions of His Royal Majesty, King Z’Lé. For the elves who had put their trust into his dream of uniting the four realms of magic and the four races, he had become a figure of cruel betrayal. His people had feared him ever since the day that he invited ambassadors from Thiizav, the kingdom known for it devotion to Métius. The king’s people began to worry that their queen had made the wrong choice in taking Z’Lé as her beloved.
The Onsiran citizens protested the collection of taxes in order to support the construction of a temple for the one god who had no place in Onsira: Métius, ruler of the Abyss and all the demons who resided therein. Complaints about the taxes brought King Z’Lé’s wrath, and he did not hesitate in jailing those who tried to prevent supplies from arriving at the site of the temple. It had been an act of treason, the king decreed, to prevent the unification that he so desired to create. He had lost the mercy that Onsira had been known for, and cared not that he was feared and reviled.
All the while, Queen Arialla could do nothing to stop him. She did not agree with the harshness of Z’Lé’s punishments, but the goal of unification that Z’Lé sought was to important, and too well under way to get in the way of. She was as nervous as any of her citizens were about demon king, but if she let that fear guide her, how could she bring about unity? It was for that dream that she had chosen Z’Lé, and she could not give up on it.
This logic, however, denied something greater. If Arialla had wanted deny the nobles from Thiizav their embassy and keep Métius out of her kingdom, the king would have gone ahead without her blessing. King Z’Lé had begun to dominate the throne long before commissioning the Temple of Métius to be built. No decision was final without his word, and while the queen laid resting, he would decree many of the laws that would bring his goal of unification to completion. In the name of the alliance of the gods, he broke from one Onsiran tradition after another without even a thought.
Zarrek, the second son of the royal family, grew up as the dark temple was completed. King Z’Lé took the child with him to oversee the raising of its twisted spires, and though he was just a babe, Zarrek watched, transfixed, as each block of rich black stone was set into its place. It worried Arialla to know that her son was so close to that source of evil. He would not bend to her concerns, though. Although the queen did not want her sons to partake in the darker aspects of the unification, the king insisted upon it in the name of true unity.
With all that he had done, King Z’Lé had forever changed the face of Onsira. Its proud heritage was now hardly better than a memory, and the people were resentful that they could not contest what their king was doing. He expected them to forgive what Métius had done to Goddess Jenh centuries ago, and he decreed that devotion to her alone would harm Onsira’s chances for a unified future.
In truth, Jenh was the pillar of the kingdom, and Arialla was a direct descendant of her champion, the realm’s founding ruler: Loracaz I. Métius had captured the goddess ages ago, in an attempt to steal away her life and magic, and Loracaz had been the only one able to rescue her. Welcoming the lord of evil back, even in the name of unity, was an insult to the worshipers of the goddess.
Z’Lé overruled any concern for the threat of the demon lord by declaring that the legends and prophecies were too ancient to be trifled with. Jenh had forgiven the dragons, whose jealousy was the root of all acts committed against her. Even her promise that the great hero would return to Lorata, should Métius ever again threaten the world with his evil, seemed unnecessary. It was time for Onsira to grow into an empire of unity, rather than a simple kingdom devoted to a goddess.
When Zarrek was merely five years old, he was initiated into both the Temple of Jenh the Elemental Mother, and the Temple of Métius, Dark Destroyer and Lord of Demons. In the evening of that same day, the king announced that he would unite all of Manastaecies under his rule. He declared himself Emperor of Unified Onsira, and a new age was born. The old green banners were pulled down from the palace walls, and replaced with a new tapestry, one of Z’Lé’s own design. Instead of the traditional leaf, the imperial banner was a long, vertical tapestry that contained the symbols of all four deities, even the demon lord, sewn onto a background of pale grey.
Arialla, now forced to call herself empress, could now understand how he could go so far,
To Z’Lé, Onsira being ruled by an elvan family meant neglect for the dragons, and it was that neglect that had ignited anger in the hearts of the dragons of ages past. Being that he was from one of the mountain provinces, where dragons outnumbered the elves, he was the best authority on the current disposition of the flying creatures. Arialla had once trusted his conviction that the dragons should be welcome everywhere in Onsira. Nobody had ever suspected that it would come to this.
He who had begun as a charismatic, idea-laden man, able to win the heart of the princess, changed into an irascible, demanding, and vengeful beast of an emperor, more like a dragon than an elf. When Arialla had fallen in love with Z’Lé and made him her king, he had been a gentle ruler, his only request being that dragons and elves should learn to befriend one another. It had been a strange mixing at first, for most elves were frightened of such immense and powerful beasts, but Z’Lé had worked hard to create a peaceable relationship between the races.
It became apparent, however over the years that his initial success, and the subsequent trust placed upon him by the elves was only his method of preparing for the darker aspects of what he called unity. That unification seemed to lie primarily between Jenh and Métius, ignoring the other two faiths almost entirely. Though he’d allowed temples to the holy god of purity and the celestial goddess of the bards to be built, he took no interest in them, and not even Zarrek bothered to learn from the other two temples.
Z’Lé took no pains to insist that such sacred buildings be built, as he had for Métius. Where he had overseen the building of the black temple at every stage, he had appointed ministers to ensure that the other two were erected, and left them to make their own decisions. Even the funding for the Temple of Métius was far more generous than that budgeted for the Temples of Kearr and Aamh combined.
When the people of the land could no longer bear to live under Emperor Z’Lé’s cruelty, his unfair laws and extreme punishments, they began to beg of Arialla to make him cease his actions and restore the traditions and former laws of Onsira. To their dismay, she could do nothing, what with him dominating the throne. Even when she reminded Z’Lé that the elves were dying of hunger and sickness because of his demands, he asserted his power over her.
Matters only worsened after that. Z’Lé had amassed a powerful and innumerable following of loyal soldiers and noblemen over the years. Even the dragons were willing to follow his command. They believed in his dream, in the future that Z’Lé had promised them. His followers ignored what most called tyranny, insisting that it was part of the process of incorporating the four alignments; what good was a ruler with a pure heart in a kingdom that allowed Métius within its borders? Blindly, they supported him, defending him with their lives.
The hope of the people laid in the hands of Prince Loracaz II, Zarrek’s elder brother and the first child born to Arialla and Z’Lé. To finda way out from under the emperor’s tyranny, the citizens implored him instead of the empress. The prince was the first person to be named after Jenh’s champion in all the centuries since the hero’s daring feat. He had much in common with the legendary hero, greatest of which was his pure love and devotion for the goddess; he spent much of his time in the temple dedicated to Goddess Jenh, studying her magic and legends, and often left offerings for her on the royal altar.
What the Onsiran people now held most dear was this: ages ago, after Goddess Jenh had been rescued from the clutches of Métius, she had made a promise to the elves of Onsira: should evil ever again threaten the land, her champion would return. Loracaz was the one man who could put a stop to tyranny and suffering and banish Métius back to the Abyss. Even if the emperor did not believe in the prophecy, the elves and their fae brethren did, and they prayed each day that their prince would soon awaken to his destiny and restore Onsira to its age-old glory.
A little synopsis of each of my high fantasy novels:
Book One: The Champion of the Goddess – Emperor Z’Lé must be stopped before his tyrannical conquests destroy Lorata, but is Prince Loracaz II strong enough to do it?
Book Two: Traipsing the Light and Shadows – In the aftermath of the fall of the Onsiran Empire, Prince Zarrek must find a way forward, or risk succumbing to the darkness that his father had shown him.
Book Three: The Misty Shores of Cioria – In a desperate attempt to save Cioria, Sir Loracaz III must become the prince his father raised him to be– even when his rival returns to stir up rebellion
Book Four: The Distant Isles of the Dark Seas – The civilization of the Dragon Isles fell a century ago. Can Loracaz quell the ghosts that dwell there now, and restore the kingdom to its former glory?
Book Five: Light of a Thousand Stars, Darkness of Infinite Moons (tentative) – The gods call upon Loracaz to fulfill his heroic destiny on a celestial level. With Eleanor at his side, he believes that he can accomplish anything, but will that also include bringing the stolen elementals back to Jenh?
Take a peek about my other “about” pages for information about my science-fiction, gothic, youth fiction, and other stories! I’m LGBTQ+ friendly and do my best to include a diverse cast of characters. Happy reading!
Grandfather came up to my room to have breakfast with us the next morning. Justin stuffed himself on crepes with fruit and scrambled eggs with cheese while we talked. My adoptive parents had helped secure an apartment for me near the University and it would be waiting for us once we made the drive. I had a few more shifts to work at the electronics store, and some more boxes to pack, but really most of the work left to do was help Cadence and Rainbow finish packing up their store and wait for their last day of business.
Grandfather would have liked to help us move, but since the daylight was so dangerous to him, there wasn’t much he could do. If we were still moving in after sunset, he could help us, and he was going to bring by a few things to make the apartment suit my style,. otherwise, he would be there when we had a small housewarming party, really just the fancy dinner at the apartment. My adoptive parents were going to meet us in Sacramento, and help bring in some furniture they had gotten secondhand that they thought I would like. It was a great feeling, having so much family who wanted to help.
Justin’s mom had wanted to help in some way too, but she really couldn’t leave town because of work, and really, she done so much for him already. so we settled on her helping get together all of Justin’s records and other important documents so that he’d have them with him when we moved. His dad was another matter. Mr. Corbyn wanted to come by and see the place once it was set up, and he was pretty sure his boss would give him the time off. Of course, we couldn’t tell Justin that my grandfather was Mr. Rosenthal, but that didn’t matter, there was really no reason for him to know that.
Grandfather let Justin keep some of the fancy clothes he been given at the castle. they would get more together for him while we were away, so that he would have plenty to wear on his next visit. Even though it wasn’t all black and dark colors, the concept with the fancy shirt and the dark vest was really growing on him.
Once We Were ready, grandfather open the shadows, allowing us to get from my Chambers in his castle to the guest house I was renting. it was still early morning on earth, very dark outside. It would have been completely reasonable for me to simply go back to sleep, but we really weren’t tired, we slept quite well at the castle. I only had a half shift at work that day, since the shop was rarely busy the day after a major holiday, and all David really wanted to do was finish up some repairs and take appointments.
It was much the same for Justin, just a few hours of work, mostly promoting the sale that was going on in order to reduce how much merchandise they were moving, and a little more packing. I told Justin that if he wanted to not work that day, I wouldn’t think badly of him for calling out. on top of that, if he wanted me to, I’d stay home with him. but he insisted that he was feeling great. besides, he didn’t want to call any attention to the idea that anything strange that happened the night before.
Justin’s mother called later in the morning, and was glad to hear that he was feeling better. She offered to bring over some leftovers from the 4th of July barbecue, but we declined, saying that we would go easy on our stomachs that day. We spent the rest of the morning in the early part of the afternoon reading and just relaxing, and then later on went to work, and then after that went out for spaghetti dinner.
Justin’s mother didn’t usually call him more than once in a day, what with her being busy working and not wanting to annoy him, but she did call again that evening. that time, she sounded a lot more worried.
“Have you seen the news?” she asked in a rushed tone. She was on speakerphone, so I could hear her, too.
“No,” Justin told her.
Ms. Anderson sighed. “I know, you don’t normally watch the news; I just had to ask.”
“Is something going on?” Justin asked. His mom didn’t normally watch the news either, but if it was on where she was working, she would listen in. Or if other people were talking about current events, she didn’t mind keeping herself informed. It’s just that she didn’t really go out of her way to get the news. and if she was bringing it up with Justin, it was probably something big.
“Some boys went missing last night,” she said. “You know how teenagers can be sometimes, fooling around, especially on holidays. But they’re– Justin, I think they’re the ones from your high school.”
“There’s a lot of boys at high school, Mom. What do you mean? You know I didn’t have friends there.”
“No, honey, I know, but they you had– well, not enemies, but those bullies. They showed their pictures on television, and it looked like two of the three boys who had, you know, hurt you.”
“Oh…” Justin replied. He looked to me, not sure how to respond to that.
“I’ve seen them around town,” I admitted. “Justin’s pointed them out to me. They look like the kind of idiots who’d do any challenge they see online.”
Ms. Anderson held back a disapproving harrumph. I didn’t normally speak so openly about people I didn’t like, but they’d nearly killed her son twice– though she only knew about one of those times. Besides that, she understood that I loved him, and that I would protect him from danger. She didn’t have reason to sympathize with the boys, either– nor their parents, who had done nothing to right the wrongs their sons had done.
“You’re right about that,” she said with another sigh. “The news said the boys had texted their friend about going into the woods last night, so people have been searching out there.”
“It sounds like they walked straight into danger,” I commented.
“I can’t disagree. Anyway, I have to get going. I just wanted to make sure you two were doing okay.”
“We’re great, Mom,” Justin assured her. “Can we take you to lunch on Saturday?”
Once they wrapped up the conversation and ended the call, Justin turned and gave me a worried look that had my heart racing. “Wow… Going into the woods at night? Aren’t there wolves out there?”
So that’s what had him worried. Justin couldn’t forgive those boys for hurting him at school, especially after they’d tried hurting him at the grocery store, not to mention the fact that they scowled at him if their paths ever randomly crossed around town. He didn’t remember being attacked, but was surprised they’d done something so foolish.
I’d spoken to Grandfather, Erik, and Matthias early that morning. The alley where the attack had occurred had been cleaned up so that no trace of the bullies– biological or otherwise– would be found, but it wasn’t so clean that it would catch anyone’s attention. Grandfather and the vampires he allowed to visit Earth were used to the changing times, and they knew what details they would have to attend to. Anything that was found with those boys would be too damaged by wolves and weather to be used for clues to support any idea except that they’d been attacked by wild animals when they’d foolishly gone into the forest.
The only good things to come of that mess was that Justin was safe, and I no longer had to bear my secrets alone. I was more sure of wanting to spend my life with him than ever before. Soon, it would be just the two of us, living together in Sacramento– and we’d already have friends there– and Justin could take his time deciding what he wanted to do, and when he wanted to do it.
I understood that Justin would always need special care. I loved him exactly as he was, and I would do my best to keep him happy, but I also knew that life wasn’t perfect. If he got hurt or sick, if something made his depression worse, or even if he just needed my support with his goals, I intended to always be there for him. I didn’t know how the shadows I’d inherited would affect our future, but I couldn’t think of anyone better to explore those possibilities with.
The last couple weeks in Cody flew by. David gave me my final pay and a letter of recommendation, and my landlord gave me a letter of reference when he saw how clean I’d left the guest house. We had a good-bye party at Justin’s aunt’s house the night before we were to head out; it was bittersweet, but it was a great party nonetheless. Cadence and Rainbow stopped by as well. It wasn’t their first time meeting Ms. Anderson, and she was happy to have them their and tell them how much she appreciated her son having a job, and friends, and everything else.
We were up early on a Monday morning at the end of July. The four of us had breakfast at a diner, made sure the vehicles were loaded up with snacks and drinks, and headed down Sheridan Avenue. I looked over at Justin as we waited at the light.
“So… This is it,” I told him. “I can make a left here and take you back to Portland, and you can reconnect with Killian.”
He stared at me for a long time, his mouth gaping open. “Are you serious?”
I nodded. “I won’t even be upset; I just want you to be as happy as possible.”
Justin furrowed his brow and frowned. “Blackthorne, if you turn left…”
I started to turn the wheel, and he grabbed my wrist in an instant.
“Don’t you dare,” he said with just a hint of playfulness in his tone. “I’m yours, Blackthorne. And you’re mine. I don’t want to be with anybody else but you.”
“Are you certain? My grandfather is a vampire, you know– and who knows what other secrets I’ve been keeping. You might diver quite a lot of darkness, being with me.”
“Since when have I been afraid of the dark?” he replied, completely unmoved by me words. “I love you, Blackthorne. I love everything about you– and your vampire heritage is just plain hot.”
“Oh really?” I gave him an impish look.
He nodded. “If I kiss you, will you turn right so we can get this adventure going?”
“If you kiss me,” I told him, “we might just end up in the back seat together.”
“Save it for the hotel,” he chuckled. Then he leaned over, cupped my cheeks, and gave me a kiss.
“Let’s go,” he said as he sunk back into his seat, “before they start honking at us.”
I grinned and him and made the turn for us to get onto the highway headed south. We’d be out of Wyoming by the late afternoon. We could have driven right across the northern part of Utah and stayed at motel near the Nevada border, but with the moving truck being slower and us not wanting to push ourselves too hard, we’d stay the night in Salt Lake City. Then it would be another day of driving to get from there to Reno. We’d be in Sacramento around Thursday afternoon, and would still have plenty of time to take care of paperwork, get our keys, and start unpacking. My parents would meet us there and stay through to the end of the weekend, if not longer.
This would be the close of the hardest chapter of Justin’s life. It was the end of book one, really– as it was for me as well. We were starting a new story together, one of starlight and shadows, mysteries and magic, but always– and no matter what– the love we shared together. I know that our lives could no longer be separated, and that one day, Justin Anderson, the sad, shy goth boy from Portland, would be replaced by a man who’d found comfort in my darkness, who’d found his own way through life, no matter how tangled it was, and that man would unite with me to become Justin Thorne.
The sun set while we were on our way back. Justin got permission to open the curtains and was fascinated by the world he saw outside. There were vast forests and rolling hills, and little lights that could have been fireflies as easily as they could have been faeries. As we got further, Grandfather said that some of what Justin had thought were wolves were actually werewolves.
There weren’t a lot of villages on the road we took between the healing spring and Castle Thorne. Grandfather preferred both privacy and solitude, and chose his company carefully. It was mostly because many people didn’t like his kind even in that world, and there were even those who blamed him for some of the bad things that had happened in the old legends. It hadn’t been my grandfather, and I didn’t like seeing him suffer just because someone else of his kind might have done something wrong. it wasn’t even confirmed who had actually done it, or exactly what it happened. I just knew that Tiernan, the one buried in that cairn back on the mountain, had been very important to this world, and his death had nearly torn it apart.
When we passed through the village closest to Grandfather’s castle, I was worried that Justin would start to ask questions. That village served my grandfather, treated him as their lord, and were close allies. There were actually quite a few people living there who were creatures of the shadows, and even those born of the light were friendly towards the darker ones. The problem was, I didn’t want Justin to think too much of the coincidence that the village was called Rosenthal.
Thankfully, my grandfather was also keen enough to know that he shouldn’t bring it up, and Justin was quite content to listen to what Grandfather did tell him about the village. It helped that he was also very focused on getting to see an actual castle.
Justin was excited by every part of Castle Thorne he was shown. He loved the gothic-style entry hall, the pointed spires, the dark-colored bricks. He loved the silver candelabras, the tapestries, the marble statues. As much as he should have been exhausted, the healing spring had done a lot to help him feel better, so instead of taking him up to bed, I showed him to the dining hall. Justin was treated to a dinner with many courses, something that even I would have had to work hard to treat him to back on Earth. There were a few things a little too refined for his taste, but he was nice enough to try them, even if he didn’t finish the dish. He would have been perfectly happy with something simple like spaghetti and meatballs or cheese pizza, but he was really excited when the main course came out with tender, rare steaks and roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlicky green beans.
Justin learned that in Tierney Ríocht, vampires could eat, and they got a little nutrition from it, but they couldn’t get everything that they needed from food. In fact, they didn’t need to eat at all if they could get enough blood. Grandfather kept his staff well-fed, but didn’t go too far with extravagance. He himself did not eat much, and he restrained himself when it came to blood. He was a lot more powerful when he was full, but he saved those times for when he truly needed to be. It wasn’t that he starved himself, either; he kept himself satisfied enough. and as a result, his body was strong yet lean.
After dinner– which ended with rich chocolate cake that Justin devoured– we let Grandfather retire to his room to read and relax, and I showed Justin my own quarters. My rooms were in one of the upper towers that branched off from the castle, meaning that I eventually had to carry him up the stairs.
“You’ll get stronger the more you come to visit,” I assured him. “And the more you eat! Eventually, the stairs won’t be a challenge for you at all.”
“The more we… Woah, Blackthorne, you mean this won’t be the only time I get to come here?”
“I hope it isn’t!” I told him as we got to the top of the last staircase. “Little Moon, you’ve been welcomed here by a powerful vampire lord; I can’t promise to come as often as you might want, but I’d love for you to come here with me again.”
He grinned at me and kissed my cheek before letting me set him down. Then I took his hand and opened the wide double-doors that led to my rooms. He was amazed by the centuries-old furniture and the marble-framed fireplace. I’d say he saw my own personal style in a lot of the décor of the room. There was plenty of seating around the hearth, as well as a modest dining area, several bookshelves, and a balcony that looked out over the ocean far below the cliff that the hill ended in.
Then I showed him upstairs to my bedroom–our bedroom, now. Another fireplace, a wide, aged desk, a second balcony with a different view, and his favorite part: the massive four-poster bed with brocade curtains made if black silk and stitched with red and silver thread. he let his body fall onto it and made happy, pleasure sounds as he sank into the plush comforter.
“Am I ever going to get you out of that bed?” I laughed as I pulled off my boots and set them near the fireplace. The servants had already been up to start a fire and light some candles for us, so all I had to do was keep it fed.
“Never,” he moaned happily. “Just tell my mom I’m sleeping at your place again. And again. And again…”
“That often?” I smirked. I would have been taking off my jewelry then, but Justin like when I kept it on, so I did.
I sat on the edge of my bed and started unbuttoning my shirt. Justin came up behind me and reached his hand around my torso to help.
“Blackthorne, I think I’d stay here always if I could.”
I turned to meet his eyes. “You hardly know this place.”
“I want to, though.”
The look of hope in his eyes when he said that was so beautiful; I might even say that it was enthralling. I knew how much life on Earth had hurt him. The disappointments, the arguments, the bullying… and even though he had friends who looked after him, and his mother made an effort to keep up with maintaining their assistance programs, knowing that his life was one struggle after another really wore him down. I realized then that bringing him to Tierney Ríocht did more than let us heal his body. This was a world that would foster his sense of wonder, his love of magic and stories. This world would give him the hope he needed in order to survive.
“Well then,” I said, giving him a warm smile, “I’ll have to bring you here often.”
He nodded eagerly, grinning from ear to ear. He pulled my silk shirt off of me and all but pouted when he saw that I had an undershirt on. “Why are you wearing so many layers?” he whined.
I chuckled and took his fingers to kiss them. “You know why, Little Moon.” I turned around and feathered my fingers through his hair. “I haven’t seen you with this much energy in a very long time.”
“I think it was that magic water,” he half-whispered.
“Oh, was it?” I teased. “Not the big dinner? Not the carriage ride to a big, dark castle?”
Justin blushed and looked away a little. I laid him down and knelt over him. “You’re so excitable tonight.”
“Yeah well…” His voice shook a little. “I just found out my boyfriend is– what, one-third vampire?”
“One-fourth,” I replied, “but close enough. What am I going to have to do to get you to sleep?”
Justin’s hands pulled me closer and massaged my shoulders lightly. “Hmmm… maybe if you make love to me, that will help get me tired.”
It was endearing how red he got when he asked for it. Even though we made love often now that his health was better, he was still shy about being the one to initiate. He was used to being submissive to his partner; he was almost always eager for sex, just not asking for it. There ere also the unspoken requests, the hints and signals that he was more used to. I liked him offering himself to me, but I also planned on helping him become less shy about making requests.
“Oh, you think so?” I leaned in to kiss his neck. “Will my little prince go to sleep after I make him cum?”
He laughed softly at that. “You know I always do.”
“Even tonight?” I started unbuttoning the shirt we’d given him, something white with a tall collar with long points and plenty of ruffles. He’d been a bit reluctant to put it on, but there wasn’t much else that was small enough for him, and I think there was a certain amount of anticipation about taking it off later lurking in the back of his mind.
He laughed when my fingers brushed over his skin. I leaned in. Our lips met, and his playfulness melted into desire. One of his hands played in my hair, and the other wrapped around my back and pulled me closer. When I straddled his hips, he rose up enough to let me feel how hard he already was. He moaned softly as I pressed back.
“Oh wow… you’re already so big.”
“I’m getting there,” I chuckled, and went back to kissing him and working on his buttons.
Justin hurried down the buttons on his dark blue vest, then untied the laces that fastened is pants. He sighed in relief as soon as his dick was free and exposed to the cool air.
“You’re so eager tonight.”
“Yeah,” he said. “This place is amazing. I never thought I’d get to make love in a bed like this… or in a castle, or…”
“Or to a man with vampiric ancestry?” I finished for him when he became too distracted with sighing as he stroked himself. He nodded drunkenly. Now that I had all of his buttons undone, I pushed aside the cloth and ran my hands across the swath of smooth, creamy skin that was revealed. He gasped as my thumbs played with his nipples. “You’re so beautiful, Little Moon,” I breathed.
“You say that like you’ve only just noticed.” His words were interspersed with breathy little moans.
“The sight of you always takes my breath away, but now… I’d put you in front of a mirror just to show you, but I know you don’t really like that. But that’s not all. The spring made it so that even your old scars are hardly there anymore. It’s like you’ve been transformed.”
“Really? Maybe you should–”
“That’s not what the spring is for,” I told him, knowing that he meant I should consider soaking my own scars in the healing spring. “We took you there to save your life, Little Moon. My scars are just reminders of the past… of what I survived.”
“I’m sorry you suffered like that. Wait– it was that bad; I could have died?!”
“Ssshhh… you’re okay now,” I soothed, caressing his head. “It was either the spring, or months in the hospital. I couldn’t let you go back there, or live in pain, or…” I stopped and shook my head. “You’ve suffered enough for a lifetime– for ten lifetimes. It’s up to me to protect you and keep you happy, and I’m not about to let you down.”
“Okay. You know what would make me happy right now?”
He gave me a lascivious grin. “I wanna take your dick out of your pants and have it fed to me.”
“You can have anything you want, baby,” I grinned back.
I peeled off the soft white undershirt and tossed it aside while he worked at unbuttoning my pants. No sooner was my zipper down than he pulled at the waistband of my boxers and let my erection spring free. He looked thrilled to see it– as though he hadn’t seen it just that morning, as though he hadn’t practically swallowed it the night before– and wasted no time in stroking it. That got a loud moan from me, and my dick plumped in his hand.
Justin squirmed down lower on the bed and grabbed my hips. “Come down here.”
“Oooohh… I see what you want.” I spread my knees just enough to lower my body and slide my dick into his mouth; I wasn’t ready to outright sit on his face, no matter how badly he wanted it. Maybe in time, but not that night.
He closed his eyes and sighed contentedly as his lips wrapped around my sensitive flesh. He freed my balls from my clothing and made sure they got attention from his tongue. His hands massaged my thighs and backside, keeping me close and urging me lower. I ran my fingers through his hair and held the back of his head.
“Wow Blackthorne,” he gasped after several minutes of licking and sucking, “you’re leaking so much. Are you going to cum as soon as you’re inside me?”
“I probably would,” I moaned. I was massaging his scalp, which he seemed to adore. “Will you let me do something a little different tonight, my prince?”
His eyes went wide with curiosity. “What is it?”
I moved to lie beside him so that I could kiss his face and lips. “I want you inside me, but I want to be on top.”
That had him grinning and blushing all at once. “I get to have you ride me?” He sounded very excited. “Yes! Oh man, I’m getting harder just thinking about it. Mmm… but I want to ride you, too!”
“In time, Little Moon. Maybe it will be a good prize for our first time in our apartment in Sacramento.”
Justin pouted. “You’re going to make me wait that long?” he whined– but it was a teasing whine.
I chuckled and sat up. “It’s not even three weeks away,” I reminded him and I moved to open a drawer in the nightstand. “I love how eager you are.”
When I got what I needed and turned back around, Justin was completely naked and grinning. I smirked. “Keep stroking yourself like that,” I warned him, “and you’ll cum all over yourself instead of in me.”
“Maybe,” he groaned, “but I feel so much better… like I could get hard again right away and then let you ride me, and still make a lot of cum for you.”
I smiled at him and slid off my shirt. “We can do things like that one you’re even stronger,” I promised him. “Besides, I don’t think I have the energy for that much tonight.”
“You– Oh no, Blackthorne, I’m sorry, I should have thought about that. I didn’t mean to demand sex from you. If you need to sleep, I can–”
He stopped talking when I stood up and let my pants and boxers drop to the floor. He stared at my erection, watching me stroke it slowly. “Still think I can’t do one round with you?”
Justin gave me a hungry, dreamy-eyed look. “I swear it looks bigger every time I see it,” he breathed.
“Heh… You’d like it to be, wouldn’t you?”
His cheeks turned a darker red. “Oh, you know I like how big you are. I’d still take it if it was bigger, but I don’t need it to be. Oh wow, it’s leaking. A lot.”
I nodded and got back onto the bed. “I’m going to splatter all over that beautiful chest of yours.”
“I like those kind of threats,” he giggled as he reached for me. “Come here and get my dick wet so it’s easier for you to sit on.”
I liked it when he was needy; it helped him open up more, and he was better able to ask for what he wanted. Before I did as he asked, though, I knelt close to him and gave him the little blue amphora I’d gotten from the drawer.
“This is what is used as lubrication here,” I explained. “I haven’t used it for anything other than– well, just a little release now and then– but what I was told is that it’s good as a massage oil, but it’s also safe for what we need it for.”
Justin grinned and took out the little stopper so he could put a couple drops on his fingers. “Oh wow, it’s really slippery!”
“It is,” I agreed and I laid down beside him and took the head of his dick into my mouth. He tasted clean and earthy, and I could have swallowed all of him right then if I didn’t have enough self-control. “A little goes a long way.”
I gasped when Justin’s tongue ran down my shaft again. He worked me in and out of his mouth while his slicked fingers reached back to find the entrance to my body. Once the area around my hole was wet, he pushed a finger inside, and I reacted by tasting more of him.
“You’re doing great,” I moaned. “Get me wet inside so you can just slide right in.”
Justin sucked harder on my dick and slid another finger into me. The oil made it so easy, and I could hardly make myself wait much longer; I wanted his shaft piercing me, forcing me open, and the oil would make it easier to take him in with less stretching beforehand. After only a few minutes, I sat up.
“I need you inside me,” I gasped.
He nodded and slicked a couple more drops of the oil onto his dick. He yelped just a little when I lifted his hips to slide a pillow under his lower back; that would give a little more height to his thrusts and make it that much easier to hit my prostate. Then I wasted no time in straddling his hips and positioning my hole right over his tip.
“I love you, little prince,” I said as I began to lower myself onto him.
“Oh, Blackthorne!” he cried. His back arched, and his head fell back. He moaned and whimpered as he filled me, no doubt knowing that it was his shaft that opened me, not his fingers this time. “Oh wow, oh g– Blackthorne, you’re so tight!”
I grinned as I watched him, and kept sinking further down. He screeched and squirmed as I gave him pleasure. I loved the way he showed me how much he enjoyed the sharing of our bodies, and I was about to give him so much more reason to scream.
“Well, Little Moon, that’s what happens when you get as hard as you are now. And really, I’d say you’re the one who’s gotten bigger!” It was entirely possible, actually. The healing spring was making him whole, restoring not just the abuse from the bullies, but what he’d lacked over the years. He wouldn’t need more water; what he’d had was more than enough to unlock his potential. All he needed now was food and exercise and time. I was overjoyed at the thought of seeing him healthy, having him truly healed. Even if it was just our arousal making me think his dick had grown even a little, I was happy for him.
Justin thrust upwards, pushing more of himself into me. I groaned and bore down, eager to take in more. He whined when I rose up just a little.
“It’s okay, baby. I’m not going far. put your hand on my dick….yeah, stroke me, Little Moon. Ooooohhh, your hands are so perfect!” I leaned back just enough to change the angle of his shaft inside me, then let my body sink down around him.
He got louder the more I took in. So did I. My legs spread further apart, and my mouth opened to let out deep, throaty moans. Justin could hardly get my name past his lips; his inability to speak told me that I was doing it right.
“Fill me, Little moon give me all of it.”
I came down harder on his next upward thrust. He screamed my name. His hand on my shaft tightened. My thighs rested on his, my balls on his belly. He was fully sheathed inside me; we were one.
“Being filled by you is so glorious!”
“Oh Blackthorne…” he gasped. He was so distracted by his own pleasure that he’d lost track of stroking me, so I laid my hand on his and guided him to do what I liked. “You’re so hard…” His voice was high and strained; good, that meant he was in bliss.
“I love my Prince’s touch,” I told him. “I’m going to make my rhythm match yours, baby.”
I started to rock my hips then. Slightly forward, then back, a little forward again, all like the gentle waves of the ocean. This was something where doing yoga and lifting weights really paid off; I had the strength to move how I wanted to — how he wanted me to — and the stamina to do it longer. Justin was pinned beneath me as I rocked, although I would have let him toss me off at any moment; his needs came first.
“Mmm… oh Blackthorne… oooohhh — yes, yes! oh Blackthorne, If this is how you ride, I want you on me every night!”
“Such pretty words from even prettier lips.” I curled my hips in longer, faster waves. “But what if I want you doing this to me?”
Justin moaned louder. “Oh fuck yes!” He stroked me faster, and I moved my hips to match his pace. “Any time you want me to ride you, I will be there.”
“Mmmm… yes….” I felt my dick pulsing in his hand, wanting to spray the contents of my balls all over him. My hips moved faster, sliding up and down his shaft. I couldn’t hold back much longer. “I have such a giving lover.”
“Yes! Blackthorne, yes! Oh, you’re incredible. Oooohh… Yes, let me give it to you!”
He was close to cumming, too. “Thrust Your hips up. baby. I’ll match your rhythm. There, yes…”
Justin raised his hips, and I came down hard, screaming when that made him hit exactly the right spot.
“Blackthorne!” he cried. “You’re so deep… oh– Oh! OH!!”
“That’s right, Little Moon. give me your Cum. Pour it into me! Fill me!”
I rode him even harder, my hips rising and falling in my desperate need to be speared and stuffed. my own dick was hot and rigid in his hand, ready to explode, but I wanted him cumming first.
I slammed down again, screaming his name as he ground against my prostate. I rose up only a little, and came back down harder.
“I want my insides coated with your essence.” I growled. “Cum for me Little moon. I need you.”
And then he was. His shaft pulsed and spasmed, spewing hot semen into my depths. He shouted my name over and over as his orgasm rocked his body. His hands gripped my hips, refusing to let me up in the slightest. I stared down into his eyes and took over stroking myself.
“That was amazing,” I told him. “I love it when you cum hard.”
“Yeah…” he gasped, trying to catch his breath. “I don’t know how you manage to pull it from me so that I feel empty and fulfilled all at once.”
“Oh, I’m sure our love plays a role in that.”
He smiled up at me, his brown eyes laden with affection and joy. He was still breathing hard.
“You want me to cum so we can cuddle, don’t you?”
He grinned and tried to laugh, but was still too out of breath, so he just nodded.
“Mmmm… I like that idea. Will you massage my balls to help me?”
Justin was still partly hard, and still deep inside me. It was enough for me to ride, to feel. He cupped my balls, feeling how full and hot they were. His touch made me moan, and I curled my hips around his dick, loving the feel of him still inside me. He gasped; my movements were enhancing the aftershocks of his orgasm. I kept rocking on him, stroking myself and letting him touch me.
“Ohh… B… bla…” he whined. “Please…”
“What do you need, beloved prince?” I asked with another wave of my hips.
“Mmmmmm…” His free hand wrapped around my dick to help me stroke it. “Cum… please… all over me.”
At that point, I couldn’t hold back any longer. I cried his name as my cum painted his chest and belly. I went on stroking until I was sure that I had every drop out, that I was completely spent. Then I collapsed beside him and stared into his eyes until my breathing evened out.
“I love you so much little moon,” I told him.
“I love you too, Blackthorne. Thank you for bringing me here… and for saving my life.”
“I’d do it a thousand times over if I had to,” I swore to him, hoping that nothing so dramatic would happen again any time soon.
“Wow,” I heard Xanthus’s voice say from over by the stairs. “He… it’s amazing how much the water here can do.”
Justin looked up at him and gaped. Xanthus watched him curiously.
“Blackthorne…” Justin whispered to me, “his horns look so real.”
“I know, baby. It’s okay, he won’t hurt you.” Part of me wanted to chide Xanthus for not hiding his form better, but between him wanting to help and Justin actually being into stuff like that, I didn’t bother. “Is Grandfather safe?”
“He is,” he replied with a nod. “He asked me to bring you his cloak.” He held out the wide span of black fabric; the inside was lined with fine silk in a dark, dusty gray.
“Thank you, I murmured. I walked Justin out of the spring and onto the cool, soft grass; he wiggled his toes in it appreciatively.
Xanthus wrapped the cloak around Justin’s narrow body. “Go on up to the carriage. I’ll take care of the rest here.”
I nodded and lifted Justin into my arms; he felt as light as a feather. He clung to me as I carried him back up the steps. His eyes widened when he saw the bright clearing and the colorful trees.
“Woah… This place is amazing! Blackthorne, where are we?”
“We’re somewhere very special, Little Moon.”
His eyes darted all around the clearing as I walked back across the grass, over the little bridge, and up to the carriage. Xanthus had already gotten it turned around, and the horses were content to nibble on the grass and flowers nearby.
“Wow, they’re huge!” Justin declared when he saw them. “Hey, Blackthorne, that carriage is really cool, and the horses are amazing, but… I don’t remember coming here.”
“I know,” I told him softly. “I’ll explain it all to you.”
I opened the door on the shady side of the carriage, and he climbed inside. “Oh, hello Mr. Thorne,” he greeted my grandfather.
I followed him in and closed the door tightly. I sat down with Justin, across from my grandfather, who wore the form that Justin was familiar with rather than his natural one.
“Hello, Justin,” Grandfather replied, his voice low and smooth. “It is wonderful to see that you are doing better.”
“Better…” he repeated softly. “But what happened? I remember my entire body hurting, but not why.”
“If I may, Justin,” Grandfather said before I could even get a word in, “I would like to ask that we not discuss it for now. The entire ordeal has all of us quite shaken.”
Justin looked between him and me. I’m sure he understood how worried we both looked, because he eventually nodded. “O-okay… I…”
“You are rattled yourself, are you not?” Grandfather suggested.
Another timid nod.
“Give yourself time. Your body and your subconscious will appreciate it.
When Justin leaned against me, clearly exhausted, I turned to kiss the top of his head. That was when I realized that a faint blue-white aura surrounded him. It was slightly bright where the gash hidden by his hair had been, and around the eye that had been swollen. “Justin…” I whispered.
He saw the surprise on my face as I stared at him, and opened the cloak just a little to look down at himself. The rest of his body had that aura as well, and it was also brighter where he’d been hurt. “Woah… Am I really glowing? But…” He shook his head. “I’d say it was just my brain confusing things, but you see it, too.”
Justin looked to Grandfather, who also nodded to confirm it.
“It is a side effect of being in the healing spring,” he told Justin. “I hope you won’t mind that I ask you to stay covered. I’ve raised enough children that I have no qualms about your state of undress, but it is best that I avoid the light.”
“The light?” Justin repeated. “Wait, that water–” he looked to me, his eyes huge, and whispered, “This is a dream, isn’t it? I can’t glow after soaking in spring-water.”
“It will subside,” Grandfather assured him. “Give your body time to absorb all of it.”
“Abs– You’re serious aren’t you, Mr. Thorne?! But–” He turned to me. “How?!”
“Would you believe me if I said magic? Or would you think that was a dream as well?”
Justin rested his forehead in his hands and his elbows on his knees. “Ohmygod.”
“It’s okay,” I said, rubbing his back. “Just breathe. I think we have quite a few things to tell you, Little Moon.”
Okay…yeah, it sounds like it.
Grandfather had already removed his wide hat. now he unwrapped his scarf and pulled off his gloves. with a deft movement of his head, he shook off the illusion that made him look human and revealed his true form. His skin was a pale gray, rather like the moon, his silvery hair impossibly long. he turned his red eyes upon Justin, who gazed back in utter awe.
“Mr. Thorne…” Justin breathed.
“Yes, Justin, it is I. Despite this change in appearance, I am no less Emory’s grandfather.”
“You’re…you’re beautiful. Well, and kind of intimidating, but… wow. So, umm… does this mean you’re not human?”
“Not entirely,” Grandfather admitted. “I suppose part of my form is based on humans, though. And of course, I can father children with humans.”
“You have more than one?” Justin asked. He looked to me. “I didn’t think your dad had any brothers or sisters.”
“Justin,” Grandfather said, “you will learn a great many things today that are contrary to what you previously believed. I hope you can be forgiving for how we have misled you.”
“Ummm, yeah… I’ll hear you out.”
Grandfather gave him a kind smile. “Ah, it’s qualities like that that make me believe you are such a good match for Emory. Could you tell me, Justin, what you think I am?”
Justin stared at him for long moments; his mind was clearly racing.
“Are you thinking about how it’s not possible, Little Moon? Keep in mind that you’re glowing, and you were just healed from serious wounds by a magic spring. Go on, say what you’re thinking.”
He still looked uncertain. “I feel like I’m going to wake up and find out this is all just a dream. But okay, what do I have to lose?” He took a breath and told me, “He reminds me of… y’know, the vampires from the movies and books and stuff.”
“You have a keen mind, Justin,” Grandfather said with a wry smile.
“What?” he replied. “I– I was right?!”
“You are,” I nodded.
“Woah…” Justin stared at him for a moment. “I was sort of half-kidding, but wow! Wait, Blackthorne, doesn’t that mean you’re half vampire? Like a dhampir?”
“I suppose you could say my father was,” I replied, “although he wasn’t told what he was.”
“What? How could he not know?”
“I do not tell all of my progeny about my origins,” he explained. “Many would not take the information well, and my goal on Earth is not to create more people who know about vampires, but to continue my bloodline. Only those best suited are told about what I am and this world.”
“‘This world’…” Justin repeated. “Okay, I thought this place was too pretty to be Earth.”
“Quite so,” Grandfather agreed. “As my grandson’s beloved, you are very welcome here in Tierney Ríocht, Justin.”
“‘Tierney’? That sounds like something Killian would say in Irish.”
“It means ‘chief’ or ‘lord’ in Gaelic,” I told him. “And ‘Ríocht’ means ‘kingdom.’ I won’t overwhelm you with explanations about the linguistic connections, but I can tell you that there’s a lot of magic here, and I really think you’re going to love it.”
“Are there other vampires, too?”
Of course he would ask that before anything else magic-related.
“There are,” my grandfather told him. “In fact, my bloodline is quite strong.”
Justin looked him over thoughtfully. “Do you mean the bloodline you’re part of, or something more?”
Grandfather’s smile widened. “You are such a sweet young man. I am the grand-master of my bloodline, Justin. My full title is Lord Damien Averel Thorne.”
Justin smiled up at him, clearly impressed. “Wow, it sounds so– wait, Blackthorne wasn’t Averel…”
“The lonely vampire from the story you like me to tell you?” I asked. “Yes, he is.”
His eyes went huge. “So– you mean– the story is true?”
“In a way,” I said, “but Grandfather isn’t quite as lonely now.”
“I’m so relieved,” Justin told my grandfather. “You’re so kind; I wouldn’t want you to be so sad. And your name is beautiful, by the way.”
“I’m glad you think so,” Grandfather said. “I do like your sense of wonder and imagination; the same goes for Emory. It is because he is open to ideas of what lurks in the shadows, magic, and other worlds that I was able and willing to tell him the truth of what I am.”
Justin nodded. “Yeah… I guess thinking about how the real world is so bleak and boring just makes me so unhappy, so I like to read fantasy stories and think about other worlds and what else might be out there.”
“And here you are now, meeting the real me, and paying a visit to my world.”
We talked together until Xanthus returned. He’d filled the amphorae with spring water, and had collected several baskets of the berries that grew nearby. Additionally, he’d gathered up Justin’s clothing so that it wouldn’t be left on the ground next to the spring. Once everything was safely stowed in the carriage, he was formally introduced to Justin, who was actually very excited to meet a satyr.
It was agreed that Justin shouldn’t go back to Earth until his glowing subsided. The way time passed differently between our two worlds, it should work out without raising too much alarm. As Xanthus drove the carriage back to the castle, we talked about how we would be letting Justin’s mother know why we hadn’t shown up to watch the fireworks at his aunt’s house, and assuring her that he was okay, just not feeling well. There was zero chance of telling her what had actually happened, and I wasn’t sure how much I would ever tell Justin– at least, not unless he asked and made clear that he needed to know precisely what had happened.
“So,” Justin said, “I know my clothes were ruined and you had to get them off of me to put me in the healing water. But do either of you know what happened to my phone?”
I look to Grandfather, hoping that he would have an answer. He reached a hand into the breast pocket of his shirt and pulled out the tell-tale black rectangle.
“I made sure to collect it,” he said. “It did sustain a little damage, but surely it is not beyond repair.”
“Oh wow!” Justin exclaimed. “Thank you!”
I accepted it from Grandfather so that Justin could remain covered, and looked it over. It was dirty from whatever it had landed on in the alleyway, and the screen had a couple cracks across it, but the case had done its job and mostly protected it. I powered it off and slipped it into my own pocket.
In my grandfather’s world, technology from back home only worked if it didn’t need any type of satellites or towers. Of course, once it ran out of power, there was almost no way to recharge it while in Tierney Ríocht. Once we were back at his castle, Grandfather could form a portal leading back to Earth so that I could have a few minutes to reconnect and send a message or two to Justin’s mother.
I followed him. I was still in a panic– I probably would be until Justin opened his eyes and could talk to me– and I was worried about how much my grandfather was putting himself at risk. He took us to the main hall of his castle, where some of the men most loyal to him were already waiting.
“Grand-master!” Matthias cried as he ran over to us.
Erik, who was tall and lean with short black hair and skin like the moon, approached more slowly, but no less concerned. “By the shadows– Master, what happened to the boy?” He gazed down at Justin as though his pain were all too familiar to him.
“Hatred,” Grandfather told him. His eyes were cold and serious. “Vile hatred that made their blood bitter. They won’t be hurting anyone else ever again.”
Erik nodded. “How may we help you, master?”
“Do you remember where the last vial of healing potion is? Go get it from my room.” Then he looked over at Xanthus. “Prepare the steadiest carriage and my fastest horses. We must get him to the spring as quickly as we can.”
Erik raced up the stairs, and Xanthus bowed to him before heading out to the stables. Grandfather had Matthias bring him his darkest cloak and his widest hat. He sat uneasily in an armchair and stared down at Justin, and I stayed right beside them. When Matthias can back, Grandfather sent him off to the kitchen for a small cup of water. He returned with it just as Erik came back downstairs.
“There are only a few drops left, Master,” he said mournfully as he handed it over.
Grandfather nodded. “It’s not enough to heal all of him, but it will keep him from succumbing to his injuries before we get to the spring. Matthias, take some of the empty amphorae and baskets to Xanthus. We should be able to bring back what we need to make more potion.”
Erik helped remove the tiny cork from the vial, and Grandfather gently eased Justin’s mouth open to place a couple drops of the pale lavender liquid onto his tongue. Then he added a little water to the vial and gave that to Justin as well. Justin groaned weakly. Grandfather gave him a moment, and then gave him more of the water to help wash down the potion.
We watched for several tense moments, until Justin sighed and seemed to breathe a little easier. Whatever the potion had done, it had been on the inside– and we were grateful for it. The healing potions of my grandfather’s world cannot be explained in terms of science; his was a world of magic, and to that end, we had to accept that the potion would work, that it went where it was needed most and repaired what it could.
“Erik,” Grandfather said, beckoning him closer. He held out his wrist for him. “Drink, my childe. Partake of my power of the shadows and the pathways. You will need it if you are to clear away the two bodies from the alley and protect our secrets.”
Erik knelt before him and lowered his head respectfully. He obeyed, and sank his fangs into the wrist offered to him, and drank deeply.
“You and Matthias are charged with ensuring that nobody knows that Justin was attacked in that alley. They must believe that the boys went off to the woods just outside of town and were attacked by wolves.”
Matthias bowed. “As you command, grand-master.”
He knew that he would not be receiving any of my grandfather’s blood that night. Erik had been turned by him ages ago, but Matthias was much further down the blood-line. It was a high honor for anyone not sired by a vampire lord to ever receive their blood, for it imparted great ability and power. Erik was my grandfather’s pride and joy, his most favored childe. When he’d fed enough, Erik kissed the wounds he’d made, gave thanks for the gift, and stood up. He swore that he would carry out his duty without fail, then left for Earth with Matthias.
Grandfather’s wounds healed in mere seconds, and he got up from the chair. I followed him through the halls to the wide chamber adjacent to the stables. It reminded me of a sort of garage, a space safe from the sun but no less suited for preparing for a journey. There was a carriage positioned to leave the castle, its windows covered by heavy curtains to keep out the sun. Xanthus was finishing getting the horses– a pair of black-forest steeds– into their harnesses.
I opened the door to the carriage, and Grandfather climbed inside with Justin held close to his chest. Justin looked so much more like a little boy in his arms. He was still hardly moving, and I could only tell that he was breathing if everything else stopped moving and I focused very hard. I climbed in and sat beside him, gazing at Justin through blurry eyes. I wanted to take him from Grandfather, but I knew that he had him securely, and he was so calm, I didn’t think it would be right to move him.
Before too long, Xanthus let us know that everything was ready. He closed and secured the carriage door and got the horses moving. The way the garage worked, the doors leading outside were to be kept firmly shut until it was time to actually pass through them, and when they were opened, any vampires in the area had to either be inside of a blacked-out carriage, or further inside the castle. In that sense, I suppose it was almost like the airlocks I’d seen in science documentaries or science-fiction movies.
I heard the tall doors to the outside open, and the carriage moved forward a little more, and then Xanthus closed them again before climbing up into the driver’s seat. The whole process could have been done faster with the help of a couple more non-vampiric attendants, but at that time, Xanthus was better off doing it all himself rather than tracking down someone else to help.
The carriage started to move faster, first down the slope, away from the castle, and then turning down a rarely-used road. The place we were headed– where a healing spring was hidden– was considered sacred in Grandfather’s world. It was rooted in the world’s origin stories; even the reason for that magical spring was legendary. Grandfather had taken me there years ago, but we’d been able to go at night. This time, Justin had been beaten so badly that we didn’t have the luxury of time.
That was another important detail about this world and Earth, actually: time flowed differently. Sometimes it seemed to flow faster on Earth, while at others, Earth seemed to be the slower of the two. Grandfather had tried to explain why that was, but since it couldn’t be put into scientific terms, I hardly understood it. His world was a place of magic; it didn’t follow the laws of physics.
All I knew was that it was daytime there, and that we had to go straight to the spring in order to save Justin’s life and get him home before his mother started to worry. I could fudge a few hours, but not the days or weeks it would take for him to heal from this attack. The spring would make it so that he had almost no scarring, no infections, no complications. There would be no connection between him and the boys who would be found in the woods.
Grandfather wrapped an arm around my shoulders, enveloping me in his cloak and bringing me closer. He hummed as we traveled, and between his song and the steady rocking of the carriage, I soon fell asleep nuzzled against his chest, as close to Justin as I could get. He woke me much later to tell me that we were approaching our destination.
The spring flowed about mid-way up a rough sort of plateau. The plateau itself had once been a mountain, but it was broken by the roots of a massive, ancient tree. The Tree of Life rose up higher than any mountain-peak, and some of its roots peeked out between the stones. The vines of other plants wove around those exposed roots, and they were also home to moss and mushrooms and various small animals. Ancient lore said that there was a passage leading to Earth hidden somewhere in the caverns that dotted the wall of the plateau. Of course, the only person to ever find it was no longer alive.
The road to the spring was narrow and winding. It wove between trees of all kinds, and over a few bridges that spanned cold brooks. Sometimes we had shade, and other times we were in full view of the sun, but we trusted that Xanthus would get us as close as possible to the healing spring while still being shrouded from the sun. When the carriage slowed and pulled to a stop, I sat up straighter and looked up at my grandfather.
He didn’t say anything right away. Instead he waited for Xanthus to open the door on the shadier side of the carriage. Grandfather had me step out, and then handed Justin down to me. Xanthus help keep him steady as he was transferred to my arms, then climbed into the carriage.
“What– what are you doing?” I asked as I watched Xanthus helping Grandfather get covered up, shrouded in his large cloak, his hat, a scarf, and even gloves.
“Do you really have to ask?” Xanthus replied.
“Okay, yeah– I guess the question was a bit rhetorical. But… Grandfather, you can’t come out here. Just let Xanthus show me the way.”
Grandfather gave me a stoic look. “I will ensure that your beloved is saved,” he told me.
“But– No, Xanthus and I can do this.”
“I will be with you,” he intoned.
Xanthus stepped out of the carriage and helped my grandfather down. I stared at him with a look of fear and concern.
“Emory,” he said in a low voice; his gloved fingers caressed my cheek. “You should know that as a vampire lord, I am not so fragile. I can walk with you to the spring.”
“Grandfather…” I whispered. I was certain that he heard how badly my voice was shaking.
“Let’s go,” he said. He wrapped an arm around my shoulders and led me forward.
Xanthus went ahead of us, mainly to ensure that we’d be alone in the area. It was rare for anyone else to be there, but there was no reason to risk it, especially knowing how unpopular vampires were in this region.
As we walked away from the carriage, the path narrowed to one meant for walking. We crossed another small bridge, then emerged from under the tree-line into a sort of clearing. It was surrounded in part by colorful trees and partly by the rocky wall of the mountain, which the brook ran close to, but there was also the open edge, where one could look out and have a vast view of the land. It was a sheer drop down from there, so I stayed away from it.
In about the middle of the clearing was a cairn, its stones ancient and covered in moss. Grandfather stopped beside it and laid his fingers lightly on one of the stones. He closed his eyes, and his lips moved as though whispering.
“Grandfather…” I breathed. “This cairn… it’s the one from the legends, isn’t it? It’s where they laid Tiernan to rest.”
He gave me a slow and solemn nod. “It is because of him that we have the healing spring at all.”
He didn’t wait for me to say anything else; not that I wanted him to, because the cairn was in full view of the sun, and I didn’t want him to linger there, even if he was covered. We walked on, to the far end of the clearing, where there was a little bit of shade, then down a stairway cut into the stone. There was another clearing below, smaller and shadier than the one where the cairn laid, and near the inner wall of the mountain shallow pool of crystal-clear water. It was fed by a sort of sputtering waterfall that flowed out from cracks in the stone– probably sourced from the brook above. The way the light reflected off the water made it seem as though it glowed a faint blue.
“The sacred spring…” I breathed.
Grandfather nodded. “Lay him in the water.”
“But won’t that contaminate it?”
He shook his head. “Part of the magic of our world is that this spring cleanses and renews itself. Go ahead.”
I nodded and knelt before the spring, then slowly lowered Justin into it. The water wasn’t as cold as I’d worried it would be; it actually felt good on my skin. It seemed to glow just a little more where it touched Justin’s body, especially around his wounds. He groaned faintly. His swollen fingers twitched as they sank into the water, and the swelling started to go down a little.
“Remove his clothing,” Grandfather said softly. He started to lift up Justin’s T-shirt, while Xanthus moved down to untie his boots. I couldn’t do much more than hold Justin steady and help get his arms out of his shirt without jostling him too much.
The sight of him was enough to bring me to tears all over again. It looked like he’d been hit by a Mack truck, the way he was bruised and bleeding. It looked even more certain that he had cracked ribs and damaged organs.
“Little Moon…” I croaked.
“Stay steady, Emory,” Grandfather reminded me gently. He moved down to unbutton Justin’s pants, and Xanthus helped them get them off of him. He positioned his body between me and Justin to keep me from seeing all of him. “Just give the magic time to work. The water will enter him and heal from the inside first.”
My body shook; I could barely his onto his frail, tiny form.
“The stones and the bottom of the pool are smooth. Lady him down.” Grandfather helped me lower him further into the water. “This water cannot drown him, Emory. Trust it to heal him.”
I could hardly see what I was doing through my tears. Justin’s body slipped deeper into the water. Grandfather cupped his hand a dipped his hand in, then pour the water over Justin’s face, much like a parent would for a small child.
“Lord Thorne!” Xanthus exclaimed.
I looked over to see steam rising up from Grandfather’s glove. His hand trembled, I grabbed his wrist and pulled him away from the water. “Grandfather, if it hurts you, don’t do it!”
“I will be fine,” he insisted.
“It takes a lot more that a handful of water to destroy my body,” he insisted.
“Look, you don’t have to hurt yourself,” I told him. “You did enough just by bringing him here.”
He stared into my eyes; his seemed darker than usual, angry, but also… afraid.
“Emory,” he said between gritted teeth, “they were going to kill him– without so much as a care! From what I could tell, he’d done nothing to them. They simply hated his existence.”
I swallowed hard. There were those in his world who felt the same about vampires, who tried to blame them for some of the bad things that had happened in ancient times. As much as he was a predator, he also reviled that kind of hatred. He brought sensuality and passion to his vampiric needs; he couldn’t deny his nature, but he could bring nobility to what he was.
“I know, I whispered. “I cannot thank you enough for saving his life. But you can’t hurt yourself when I can take over from here. Please, go back to the carriage with Xanthus.”
Grandfather eyed me for long moments. Eventually, he got to his feet and kissed the top of my head. “Take all the time you need, Emory. I will await you in the carriage.” He pulls a handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to me. “This might help. I would check on the progress Erik and Matthias have made, but my powers are incredibly limited out here.”
“It’s all right,” I assured him, “Please, stay safe. I– we’ll…”
I looked back down at Justin, searching for some sign that his bruises were lightening– anything to show how he was healing.
“It takes time, Emory.”
I nodded. “O-okay. Just… get out of the sun.”
Xanthus followed my grandfather back up the stone steps, and I turn my attention back to Justin. I could have screamed at the injuries I saw there– the ones my grandfather had blocked me from seeing. Even with the magic working hard to heal him, Justin’s hip and upper thigh were swollen and bruised a dark purple. Whatever those boys had done to cause such damage, the doctors on Earth would have had a hard time fixing it; he’d have been lucky just to walk with a limp, if they were even able to help him that much. I was thankful that my grandfather had gotten to him before anything worse had been done, but I was furious with myself for leaving him alone for even a moment. How could I have let my guard down like that?
I heard a weak rasping sound from Justin.
“I’m here baby,” I reassured him, though I wasn’t certain how clear my words were coming out.
I moved closer to the edge of the spring and let his body sink almost completely beneath the water’s surface; only his eyes and nose and mouth stayed out. I used my hand to ladle water onto his cheeks and forehead and cleanse away the blood. Everywhere that the water touch his scratches, there was a faint blue glow, and the wound soon closed up without even a scar. There was a gash hidden by his hair that glowed especially bright; the water rinsed away sticky clots of blood, and I soaked more of his hair to make sure all of it got clean.
I dripped water onto his lips and washed away the blood there as the would healed. Then I held him a little more upright and scooped up water for him to drink. Even as drowsy as he was, Justin drank as though he were parched. I gave him as much as he wanted, occasionally pausing to wipe his face with the handkerchief.
“Blackthorne…” Justin eventually gasped. He sounded hoarse and weak.
“I’m right here, Little Moon,” I whispered.
He clung onto one of my hands. “Hurts… so bad…”
Tears threatened to flow all over again. “You’ll be okay soon, baby. Just try to relax.”
Justin turned slowly to face me. His eyes were much less swollen now, and he could open them just a little. He peered up at me. I cupped his cheeks and gazed back down at him. The brown in his eyed seemed darker now, and they were tinged a deep crimson. He looked afraid, even confused; I realized then that he might not remember much of the attack.
“So… thirsty…” he wheezed. His head turned towards the sound of running water. “What… where…”
“It’s just a tiny waterfall,” I told him. “It flows down into the spring.”
Justin slowly looked around himself. He seemed confused that he was naked and lying in a pool of water. He looked up at me, then back to the water and pointed.
“Okay,” I said, and got up. He clung to my arms and I helped him stand.
Justin was shaky at first, but once he was a little more steady, I helped him over to the little waterfall. He gazed up at it and opened his mouth to drink as much as he could catch.
“Well, you really were thirsty.”
Justin glanced at me, then went back to drinking. His hands rested on my shoulders, and I waited for him to be full. Once he’d had enough, he laid his head on my chest and leaned his body fully against mine.
“Blackthorne,” he whispered. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Little Moon,” I murmured, and kissed the top of his head. “Are you feeling a little better now?”
He nodded weakly and stayed close. I was relieved, but cautiously so. He looked a lot better; the swelling was gone, the bruising only faint discolorations, the scratches healed. Even the point where his central line had been was now hardly even visible as a scar. The trauma of seeing him beaten like that was still raw in my mind, and the fact that we were now standing in the sacred healing spring in my grandfather’s world felt unreal.
The weeks passed by in a hazy bliss that made the days blur together and my heart feel light. Beautiful days spent together, eating, watching movies, playing games, talking under the old oak tree. Even when we were at work, it felt as though we were together, because we were working towards the same– or at least similar– goals.
There were dinners at his aunt’s house now and then, and afterwards we’d talk about our plans for Sacramento. We even had a couple conference calls with my parents, so we could all talk about ensuring that Justin and I would have a place to live once we got there. We worked out a lot of the logistics, including finances. I had some student aide for attending the university, plus my scholarship, but I would also have access to an account that had been set up for me from old savings accounts and insurance pay-outs. Ms. Anderson was sad to see her son go, but she trusted me, and she knew that I would be making the most of that money, not squandering it. Once classes started and I had a feel for how to manage my time, I could get a part-time job.
Justin and I also spent some evenings with Cadence and Rainbow in order to help plan their move. We still wanted to caravan together if we could, so discussing how things were progressing was important. Rainbow was around three years older than me and hand been taking her time with college; Cadence was a little older than her and had finished her arts degree the previous year. They balanced each other out beautifully, and I figured that they had a good chance of staying together and possibly even getting married.
Cadence discovered that Justin liked to draw during his breaks at work. He didn’t do things like the classical artists did, and if anything, his style reminded me of the work of Jhonen Vasquez. She ended up encouraging his artistic side, and even brought him a sketchpad and better pencils so that he wasn’t just drawing on printer paper with a plain #2 pencil. She encouraged him to play around with different styles and techniques to see what he liked and what he had a talent for, and she shared even more art supplies. As I had no artistic ability and could only make technical diagrams at best, I really appreciated her encouraging him.
“I never had a lot of art supplies growing up,” Justin had told her. “Even paper was expensive sometimes, so I did most of my sketches on the back of my worksheets from school. Sometimes Dad would bring me some stuff, but it was always the cheap kind, or a bunch of used stuff.”
He never complained, though. Usually he’d go straight to the kitchen table to use the watercolors or experiment with the crayons. We’d try to ignore his mother chewing out Raymond, which really didn’t last long, as Justin would break it up by saying how grateful he was, or she’d have to go to work. Killian gave him a sketchbook and some mechanical pencils one holiday, and Justin eventually filled it up. Cadence wanted to see it, but he’d given it to Killian as a parting gift; I think a lot of the drawings were of him, anyway.
Justin eventually started buying his own art supplies. Cadence had wanted to take him to a specialty crafts store, but I managed to convince her that he’d become overwhelmed and discouraged once he saw the prices there, and they got some of the nicer things at Wal-Mart instead. Even though there were affordable brands at the craft store, the high-end, professional stuff made exploring the arts daunting. I wanted to ease him into it; let him practice his skills and gain confidence, then slowly ease into the fancier tools. Besides, his resourcefulness was an asset, and it helped him develop his skill.
By then, high school graduation had passed, and Justin was still too focused on getting healthy and discovering more about himself to worry about where he would get his diploma. I offered to help him gather information on his options, but ultimately agreed that we would save that discussion for when we’d settled down in Sacramento. His priority was to get all of his paperwork and records together and stored in the fire safe he’d bought with the money from his father.
One of the best days of that summer was when he visited the hospital for one of his appointments and weighed in at 108 pounds. He’d been told for the past few visits that once his BMI was in the healthy range– and his counselor agreed that he wasn’t at risk for regressing– he would no longer need parenteral nutrition supplements and could have his central line removed. He’d been working hard to eat well, and had made steady improvement ever since being admitted to the hospital.
Justin wasn’t nervous about the removal until the doctor started explaining the process. The doctor wasn’t comfortable with sedating him, but when he started hyperventilating and broke out into a cold sweat, he was given a small doze of Diazepam. That ended helping him a lot; he was able to comply with all of the instructions for the removal, and the central line came out without any problem.
We left the hospital ready to celebrate how well he’d done. He’d still be monitored and visit the counselor every week– possibly every other week, if he did really well– until we left town. I was so proud of his bravery and determination to get better. He was stronger, he had more energy, and his depression wasn’t nearly as bad as it used to be. His mother was thrilled that he’d made it that far; she tried to hide it, but I noticed her shedding tears of joy and relief.
Justin picked up a few more hours at work now that he didn’t have to visit the hospital quite as often. It was only three or four more hours each week, but to him it was an important step. Not only that, but they were starting to pack up merchandise, and Justin was more than happy to help label the boxes and document everything in the store’s computer.
We celebrated the summer solstice together at Yellowstone National Park. I was able to get a cabin for the four of us in a rustic area, where we could rest in between hikes and swimming and telling spooky stories. Sometimes Rainbow and Cadence would go out for an extra outdoor adventure, and I would stay in to make sure Justin ate and rested– though it was hard to get him to actually rest when what he really wanted to do was make love. I couldn’t complain though; he let me take care of him most times, and he did sleep a little afterwards.
July was a busy month. We only had a few more weeks before the last of the packing and cleaning had to be done, and we wanted to leave town without owing extra fees or losing our deposits. Both David and Cadence kept their shops closed on Independence Day, the only difference being that Justin still went to work to help with the packing, while I had the day off. David and my landlord invited me to their barbecue, and even though I wasn’t usually interested in them, I went as a token of good will.
I told Justin that I would pick him up around sunset so that we could go to his aunt’s house and celebrate there. When I approached the area where the shops were, I sent a message saying that I was almost there, and he texted back saying that he was heading for the convenience store to pick up some snacks, and that he’d meet me there. That wasn’t too unusual for him, and I turned onto the street where that store was.
Traffic was a bit heavier than normal, what with everyone heading through town to get to a party or a place where they would be able to see the fireworks, so it took me a few extra minutes to get to the convenience store and find a parking space. Usually all I had to do was wait in the car and send Justin a message that I was there, and he’d come out with his little bag and drink and hop in. That day, he didn’t respond to my text that I was waiting outside, so I went into the store to see if he needed any help.
I was in there for several minutes, navigating the crowd and calling him while I walked back and forth to see where he was. He didn’t answer. I didn’t hear his ringtone anywhere in the store– not even when I stood near the bathroom door to listen for it. Justin didn’t turn his ringer off; he always forgot to turn it back on, so I’d helped him set up an automatic do-not-disturb time frame, and if we went to a movie, he simply turned the phone off and let me remind him to turn it back on afterwards.
I rushed back out of the store and drove along the path he would have taken to get to the convenience store; no sign of him. It wasn’t like him to deviate from what he said he was going to do, especially considering how he’d only recently said where he was going. I drove back to Cadence’s shop and jumped out of the car. Neither Cadence’s nor Rainbow’s cars were there, and the store was completely locked down and dark.
Again Justin didn’t answer the phone.
I started walking the path he would have walked, shouting his name and calling his phone.
“Emory!” I heard as I passed one of the alleyways.
That was my grandfather’s voice. I felt cold all of a sudden. The area grew darker. I turned and walked into the alley; it was as dark as the darkest night, starless, moonless. It was also icy and smelled of caverns and ozone.
“Grandfather…?” My eyes took a moment to adjust to that depth of darkness, and before they did, I could smell– even over the reek of garbage and mildew and old standing water– the coppery scent of blood. I rushed forward.
I heard a whimper and a faint exhale, something that tried to be a moan but was too weak. My eyes adjusted, and I nearly leaped back at the sight of my grandfather. His hands and mouth were covered in blood, and it soaked his clothes– clothes that he normally kept pristine, ever the nobleman that he was.
“Grandfather, is that–” My voice trembled as I looked over the body in his arms.
No. It wasn’t Justin. I remembered that face, though; that sour expression, those brown curls of hair. That was one of Justin’s bullies. His neck was wounded, the two tell-tale puncture marks smeared with blood. Even though Grandfather had stopped drinking from him, the wounds hadn’t healed as they normally would have. I knew what that meant: he was dead.
“Grand–” I started to whisper.
“I kept my promise as best I could,” he told me, his voice low and gravelly. He let go of the drained body, and it fell with a wet thud and a squelching sound.
“What happened?” I managed to croak out when I saw the body of one of the other bullies– a body much more destroyed. I looked back up at my grandfather. “Where is Justin?”
He led me over to the corner of the alley, right next to an over-flowing dumpster. Justin laid on the mildewed remains of a box, random bits of trash littering the ground around him. I was on the verge of collapsing; I leaned against the brick wall, trying to remember to breathe.
“Justin…” I gasped. My vision blurred and my stomach felt queasy.
“He is alive,” my grandfather assured me in a weak voice. “Frail, but…”
He saw that I couldn’t move, and he knelt down to take Justin into his arms.
“Little Moon,” I whispered, reaching my hand towards him but too afraid to touch his bruised and bleeding face. “Why…”
“Come with me,” grandfather said.
He glanced towards the main sidewalk, as though worried that someone might pass by. Then he leaped up, first onto the lid of the dumpster, and then onto the narrow metal stairs that led up to the roof of the four-story building. The darkness expanded as he went up, keeping us hidden in shadows. I couldn’t jump like he could, but I could run, and I followed him up to the roof.
“My…” I sobbed when I reached the top, falling to my knees beside him.
Grandfather was kneeling there, gazing down at my precious Justin. He was trying to act stoic, but I knew he was torn, that sorrow filled him.
“I didn’t see how it began,” Grandfather told me, “but I’m certain that they saw him alone and took advantage of the opportunity. I came as soon as I sensed his pain and distress.”
Justin was almost never alone– not in public. We crossed paths with his bullies even less often, and when they were nearby, they took one look at me and ran away. We’d made it so long without any more problems; we were so close to leaving them far, far behind…
“Justin,” I whimpered. “I’m so sorry, baby…”
“I can help him.”
My eyes shot up to my grandfather. I knew my face was a storm of emotions, and I knew he’d said those words from a perspective of caring, but…
“You can’t turn him!” I cried, nearly ready to grab Justin from him.
“I know your feelings on the matter,” he replied. He looked down at him; Justin’s breathing was weak and slow, and he was limp in Grandfather’s arms.
Justin’s clothes were torn and filthy with trash and blood. He was scratched and bruised, and his right hand was swollen. His left eye– I don’t know what they’d done to it, but it was like something from a horror movie. This was worse than the beating he’d gotten at school. This was hateful, vindictive… deadly. He moaned weakly now and then; it was a pained sound, and I was certain that bones had been broken, or at least cracked, and organs had been damaged.
“Emory, that hospital…” Grandfather began.
I shook my head. Hot tears were streaming down my cheeks, and I could barely breathe.
“I don’t know how much they can help him,” he said.
He was right; even if they got him stable, he would still be at risk for infection, and the trauma– after everything else he’d been through–
“I know they got him through the malnutrition,” I said, “but this… I don’t trust them to keep him alive, let alone to ensure that he doesn’t come away with permanent damage…”
“Come with me to Tierney Ríocht,” Grandfather urged me.
“I can’t! I already told you, we can’t turn him. I can’t– I–“
“I know we’re goth, but I can’t deny him any chance of ever feeling the sun again. I can’t take him away from his parents. And even if I went with him, we cannot simply disappear from this world.”
“I know. And I can help him with without turning him.”
I gave him a wide-eyed stare. “Wait, you mean…” I shook my head. “You’re talking about the spring, aren’t you? But it’s dangerous for you to go there!”
“It’s more dangerous for him if we don’t go there.” Grandfather got to his feet and gathered more shadows around us to open the way to his world.
I glanced back towards the alleyway. “Wait, we can’t– Grandfather, the–”
He started walking into the shadows. “I will keep the way open, and keep this area shrouded,” he assured me. “They will be dealt with.”
“Do you need anything to eat?” I asked as I headed into the kitchen. I came back with his stainless steel cup filled with ice water.
He took the water from me and took a long drink. “Just you,” he said.
I shook my head and picked him up to put him on my bed. “I see that you now have a one-track mind.”
“Yeah.” He set his cup on the night-stand and beckoned me closer. “Come on, let me help with that giant erection you have.”
I took his wrists and pinned them to the pillows as I knelt over him. “Trying to tell me what to do, little prince?”
“Well… you weren’t giving it to me.”
“Oh, my dear, impatient little prince.” I leaned down to kiss him again. He tried to pull his hand away– probably to play with my dick– but I laced our fingers together and kept him still. When he tried wrapping his legs around my waist, I straddled his upper thighs and redoubled the passion of our kiss.
“Blackthorne,” he gasped after several minutes of our tongues tangling together, “let me ride you… please… I need you to fill me.”
He gave me a worried look. “But…”
I kissed down his neck. “I want you to relax, conserve your energy. I will take care of you.”
“I need you so bad,” he whispered.
“I know.” I moved down to lick and kiss his nipples. “Let’s not rush through it, though.”
His fingers played through my hair. “Blackthorne… let me taste you again… please.”
I kissed down to his belly. The closer I got to the musk rising up from between his legs, the more aroused I became. He whined my name again, and I knew I couldn’t keep him waiting. I turned around, just like I had the week before, and let him get comfortable. He slipped one arm between my legs and wasted no time in pulling my dick into his mouth.
“Careful, Little Moon… attention like that could have me cumming before I have a chance to slide into you.”
He mumbled something and went back to sucking hungrily; there was a lot more precum for him to swallow, so I knew he was enjoying himself. My arms entwined with his legs, and my face went between them to lick and kiss and play. By the time I worked my way back to the delicate skin behind his balls, he was a whimpering mess and could hardly keep his lips around me.
“Get up here,” I ordered him. I rolled onto my back and pulled him onto me, the back of his balls in my face. He made a small yelp and tried to get me back in his mouth, but I was already grabbing his hips and pulling him closer so that I could do what I needed to do. My hands gripped his cheeks and opened them wide.
“Oh shi– Blackthorne!” he screamed when he felt my tongue. I held on tighter to keep him from escaping. “Oh, wow… Oh– oh f– Blackthorne, how… oh my– Blackthooorrrrnne…”
He quickly lost all ability to speak as I ate him out. From what I remembered, he’d only been treated to that once before, and it had been ages ago, with the boy who’d taken his virginity. I was all too glad to give him that kind of pleasure, especially when I was rewarded with him completely submitting to my will.
Once I had him completely wet, I turned him around swallowed down his leaking dick. He screamed my name again, and I gave him the three fingers he wanted inside him. He sank down onto them and rode them as I sucked down as much precum as I could get out of him.
“Oooohhh… fuuu… You make me feel so good, Blackthorne! Oh shi– Oh man, I’m gonna cum really soon if you keep this up.”
I was ever so tempted to make him cum just from my fingers and my sucking. I could let him coat my face with his cum and then make him lick it up. He’d be completely relaxed and soft for me to make love to– and I felt my dick throb with the thrill of it. At the same time, I really wanted my first time inside him to be what made him cum.
I pulled Justin off and laid him beside me. He tried getting on his hands and knees, but I rolled him onto his back.
“Wait, no,” he whined, “I can take it!”
“I know you can, my sweet prince,” I told him as I placed my thickest pillow under his lower back, “but if I take you from behind, there’s a risk of damaging your central line, and I don’t want to hurt you. Besides, I want to see your face while I make love to you.”
I knelt over him to give him another kiss. “We have the whole future ahead of us to try all those other types of sex, Little Moon. Tonight, let me do this tenderly. You’re going to remember this for the rest of your life… I know I certainly will; let’s make it beautiful.”
Justin nodded. “I love you so much,” he whispered.
I smiled down at him. “And I love you. Now then, let me show you what it means when someone loves you for an eternity.”
I sat on my knees before him, legs spread, and pulled his lower half up onto my lap. His body formed a sort of arch around me, with his backside raised to just the right angle to grant me access. Justin watched as eagerly as ever while I added more lube to my shaft, and I smiled back lovingly. Then I leaned forward and positioned the head at his opening.
“I’m ready for you,” he whispered.
I leaned further forward, sinking down into his silky flesh. He released a throaty moan as his body opened wider and let me in. My hands gripped his hips, pulling him up my steel-hard shaft even as my weight let me sink down deeper. He was utter bliss. He was plush and warm and giving; his body invited me in, and I never wanted to leave it.
“My precious Little Moon,” I groaned, hardly able to hear him say my name over the sounds I was making. “You’re… you’re so deep.”
He was a wonder. His body made way for me, letting me fall into him for what seemed like forever, descending deeper and deeper. I had been a little worried that he wouldn’t be able to accept my full length, but the deeper I went, the more he sang my praises, and the more he asked for. I was his blade, and Justin wanted to sheathe all of me.
“Oh, Blackthorne,” he gasped once I’d finally sunk all the way inside. He was breathing hard and hardly able to form words.
I massaged Justin’s hips and belly, and my eyes closed. I relaxed and focused on memorizing the perfect bliss of that moment.
“I can feel your pulse inside me,” he breathed. “Your heart is racing.”
I smirked and looked down at him through hooded eyes. “Isn’t yours?”
“Well… maybe, but not like it will be when you start moving.”
“Mmmmm… I might just stay like this.”
He gave me a scandalized expression. “Keep teasing me, and I’ll have to do all the moving… But it’ll be a lot more work for me in this position, even compared to me being on top.”
“Oooohhh, my dear prince,” I intoned, “the thought of you working that hard is ever so arousing.” Even so, I held his hips tightly so that he couldn’t move. “I look forward to the day when you’re strong enough to do just that.”
Justin squirmed in my hands and whined my name.
“Oh, are you being needy now?”
He nodded and struggled to move.
“I see.” I started to push him down. He gasped and gave me a look of desperation. I smirked. “Don’t worry, baby, I won’t leave you empty.”
I pushed back with a little more pressure than before. He moaned. I grinned.
“More,” he begged.
Again I slid him down, just a little more than last time; I thrust back in right as he started to squirm to get me back. He moaned contentedly as I filled him.
“Oh, I know you can get so much louder than that,” I told him.
“Are you going to make me?”
As though I needed him to dare me! “I’m tempted to make it so you can’t speak after I’m done.”
He grinned. “But I’ll still be able to walk?”
I pretended that I needed a moment to think it over. “I’d say the goal it to make it so you won’t want to go anywhere.”
“Oh, you’re sly.”
“Whatever it takes to make my prince happy. Now quit wiggling around and let me take over.”
Justin knew what was good for him; he relaxed his body around me and allowed me to move in the way I saw fit. I went back to moving him down and pushing back in, making each movement longer and stronger, his moans and breathy words all the praise that I needed. He was beautiful to listen to. In fact, the pride I felt in giving him pleasure was even more worth it than my own pleasure.
After a while, I’d worked up to a comfortable rhythm. Between my thrusts as the fact that he was partially upside down due to our position, he was grinning almost drunkenly. I loved seeing him in that kind of bliss; romantic and erotic pleasure was the best high there was, and I intended to give him all I could.
When Justin tried to grab his own dick, I pinned his hand down and grabbed it for myself. The shaft was hot with all the blood flowing through it. The tip was soaking wet, and I used his precum to lubricate the rest of it and make it easier to stroke.
“You’re leaking a lot, baby.” It was getting harder to breathe as I worked in and out of him; I had to admit that I was a little out of practice.
“You want to cum soon?”
“Uh-huh.” He could hardly open his eyes to look up up me.
“Me, too, Little Moon.”
I knew I wouldn’t be able to last for too long. My body had been craving him, just as he’d been craving me, and this evening was more than worth the wait. He was so soft, so welcoming, so perfecting for sharing an eternity more of nights like this. The pleasure filling my body was intense, and my head felt light due to my blood pulsing in and around the shaft that Justin needed me to thrust into him over and over again. The louder he screamed, the tighter my balls felt, eager to unload into him, to claim his body as mine.
“B… Black… thorne,” he whined; he wouldn’t be able to take much more.
I tightened my grip on his hips and added more strength to my thrusts. I would worry later that his cries might have been heard in the main house, but in that moment all I cared about was giving Justin everything I had. Knowing how much pleasure I was giving him, how he wanted more and more, was intoxicating.
When I thought that he was close, I leaned down to kiss him. My hair fell around my face like black waterfalls; his was pasted to the sweat that coated his skin. His cheeks were flushed, his eyes barely open, but looking up at me with so much love.
“Cum for me, little prince,” I told him, my voice low and husky. I was stroking his dick as I continued to slide in at out of him. “Get it all over me.” I sat up a little more, exposing my muscled chest and belly.
“F…fill… fill me,” gasped, hardly even able to form the words.
“I will,” I replied, stroking him even, “once you do as I asked.”
He whimpered as I went on with my powerful rhythm.
“I want to be coated is your essence.”
I thrust harder. “Cum for the man you love, Little moon.”
“Use my name.”
“Blackthorne!” he cried as my body sank deeper into his. Sweat ran down my cheeks from my effort not to cum before he did. “Oh Blackthorne, oh Blackthorne, oh Blackthorne!
His voice rose in both pitch and volume.
“Give me what I want,” I commanded. “Mark me as yours.”
“Oooooohhhh Blackthorne, oh–” His voice caught in his throat for a moment, and then he was screaming, “Oh Blackthorne, I’m cumming! I-I– Blackthorne!”
I couldn’t make out what he said after that, but I knew it was all words of ecstasy. His cum spewed out of him at high pressure and coated my chest and belly. He gasped and screamed by name with every spasm, and he could hardly breathe by the time the flow subsided. He gave me a pleading look as his body became weak and limp in my grasp.
“You’re so beautiful,” I murmured. “I will give you everything you want, my prince.”
He’d had me on edge for so long that it only took a few more powerful strokes to release my flood into him. My body seized. I howled into the night. It felt like my very soul was pouring into him. Every spurt was utter rapture. I was deeper inside him than I’d ever been before, emptying everything I had into him until my balls felt withered and empty. And the entire time, Justin was singing my praises.
I could have collapsed right onto him. I’d be his blanket, warm but sticky, and incredibly happy. He was still trying to catch his breath as I eased myself down and rolled us onto our sides. He clung to me with his legs, completely unwilling to let go.
“Wow,” he breathed after a while of just trembling in my arms. He could hardly speak, which was exactly what I’d wanted. “I know you like it when I say your name, but you really are like a sex god.”
I smirked and rewarded his compliment with a kiss. “Hhhmmm… I don’t know, Little Moon. You like vampires so much, I think I’d rather be compared to them.”
He grinned. “You’re the sexiest vampire of them all. I’d be absolutely begging you to bite me and drink everything I had.”
“Oh, would you? I’d have to fatten you up first, little one.”
“I wonder if I’d taste like blueberries…”
I ran a finger through the cum coating my chest, then licked it clean. “Not yet, but I’m sure if I keep feeding you, I can get you there.”
If his cheeks weren’t already flushed from making love, they would have been scarlet after that comment. Instead, he went along with the joke and licked some of his own cum off of my nipple.
“Oh yeah, needs a lot more blueberries!”
We laughed, and then we both shared in kisses, showing one another how grateful we were for the passion we’d just experienced. I knew then, with our tongues dancing and our sweaty bodies still desperate for each other, than I wanted him forever. He was the one I could trust with everything, the one who could share in my secrets and treasure me just the same. I was completely, hopelessly, and blissfully in love with him.
We came home from the Italian restaurant late that Saturday. Justin had been especially flirtatious all day long; I knew what he wanted, and I wanted the same thing. He hurried off to the shower while I put away our leftovers. While he got the water going, I lit some candles and turned off the lights. Once I had the music playing, I put my boots away and headed to the bathroom.
“I see you were in a rush to get undressed,” I said as I picked up his clothes from the floor.
“My body has felt constricted all day,” he whined.
“Oh, I believe it.” I tossed his pants onto the armchair in the other room, closed the door, and put the rest in the washer before I started undressing.
Justin peeked out from behind the frosted glass shower door. “Keep your jewelry on? It’s so sexy when you’re only wearing a bunch of metal.”
I smirked. He still had his jewelry on, too. “I could say the same about you, Little Moon.”
He gave me a wolfish grin and closed the shower door. His body was mostly a blur through the frosted glass, but I could still tell that he was adding shampoo to his hair. I had to get out of my pants before my body decided that it wanted to rebel.
“I’m coming in,” I told him as soon as I was naked. I slid open the shower door, and he stepped aside so that I could stand in the water and get soaked.
Justin smiled up at me as he watched. No matter how often we showered together, I was always thrilled to have his eyes on me. He looked at me with such affection and desire that I didn’t want to be looked at by anyone else; I didn’t want him looking at anyone else, either– especially not like that. The way the water made his hair stick to kiss face was beautiful, and I wanted wanted to drink every drop of water from his lips.
“Your excitement is showing, my prince,” I pointed out.
His hand went straight to the erection that rose up proudly from between his legs. “I know. I just can’t stop thinking about what you’ll be doing to me.”
I pushed his hand aside and caressed his erection. “Mmmmm, it’s already solid.” He moaned as I slid back the foreskin and rubbed my thumb over his slit. “Ooh, look at you, already slick.”
“Blackthorne, be gentle! I’ve been wanting it all week and it you’re not careful, I’ll end up cumming right away.”
“Is that so?” I asked as my hand went lower to check the fullness of his balls. “I could use that as lubrication.”
He flushed and looked away.
“It’s okay, Little Moon, I’ll try to help it last longer for you.” I pulled him closer and kissed the top of his head.
“Want me to wash your hair for you?”
“Not at all,” I told him, my voice going much lower, “but I do want to know how you want things to go tonight.”
Justin turned a deeper shade of red. “I… I want you inside me,” he murmured.
“Oh, I know.” I took his hands. “Tell me more.”
“I… uuummm… It’s up to you…”
“No,” I told him, my tone a little firmer, “you’re in charge, remember? I’m not making all the decisions. I don’t need to do certain things just to be able to cum; I just want to be with you and share all of this with you.”
Justin looked up at me with pleading eyes. I gazed back into them, exploring the rich browns I saw there. He knew what he wanted from me; he just had to tell me. I felt him press his wrist into my palm.
“Be strong,” he murmured.
“What was that?” I made my voice low and sultry. “Tell me so I can hear you.”
His expression was a mix of arousal and uncertainty; he liked it when I talked like that– I knew he would– but he didn’t want to tell me what to do.
When he hesitated again, I grabbed both his wrists, lifted him several inches off the ground, and pinned him against the wall. I stared up at him as I licked his nipples. I sucked on one and nipped lightly at the other, loving the moans he rewarded me with.
“Tell me what you want, Little Moon,” I commanded him. He knew this wasn’t my nature, that I was playing at dominating, that I would set him down gently if he didn’t like it. “Let me hear it from those beautiful lips of yours.”
He moaned and squirmed as my tongue went down his belly. I sucked on his navel, then stopped once I was lined up with his glistening dick. I looked up at him again.
“Oh, g– Blackthorne, you’re so strong.”
“Tell me more. Tell me what you want.” I licked back up his side, nibbling his soft flesh here and there.
“Oh, yeah… yeah… I want you, Blackthorne.”
“What do you want me to do to you, Little Moon? Tell me more than simply making love.”
“I… I… Ohhhhhh!” I stopped sucking quite so hard on his nipple so he could talk. “I want to feel more of your power.”
“Is that so?” I licked over to his other nipple.
“Ye–” His voice was lost to gasps as I sucked and nibbled. Then I kissed up towards his neck. He whimpered. “Oh Blackthorne, I need– yeah, there!– I need to feel more of your strength.”
He gave a light-headed chuckle. “Ooohhhh, Blackthorne, stop torturing me and show me how strong you are! Make me yours. Take me– and make sure you cum hard!”
I kissed and licked his neck. “Mmmmm… I love hearing things like that from you.” I pressed my body against Justin’s, my half-erect dick sliding alongside his and loving how that made him moan. “Okay, Little Moon, you’re going to really enjoy what I have in store for you.”
Justin whimpered and moaned softly as I kissed his neck and slowly lowered him back down. His arms wrapped around me the instant I let go of his wrists. His lips sought mine, and he locked me in a kiss that I would have been content to never see the end of if it weren’t for what else I planned to do with him.
“Give me the soap,” I commanded him.
He grinned as he pressed the bar into my hands. I worked up a good lather and started scrubbing down, kissing the placed I’d cleaned as the water washed the soap away. As I got lower, I knelt on the shower floor. He gazed down and watched me was his belly, his hips, and on down his slender legs. I didn’t wash his shaft until I’d worked my way back up, so that I could give him extra attention between his legs. I covered his balls with bubbles, grinning up at him as he gasped and gripped my shoulders.
“It’s okay if you cum on my face,” I told him. “You talk about it so much, I’m sure you want to.”
His fingers dug into my skin as he groaned my name. I worked the bubbles up and down his shaft, and licked up the generous amount of precum he’d made before washing the head.
“Ffff… Blackthorne, you’re the one who wants it all over your face… Ooohh… Come on, if you keep doing that, I’ll– I’ll–“
I stopped before he did. When he was stronger, I could make him cum multiple times a day; for now, I had to be gentle, to not over-work his body. I stood up and worked up a thick lather on his backside.
“Now you wash me while I play with you,” I said, handing him the soap.
He took it with trembling hands and started soaping up my neck and shoulders. He almost dropped it several times before I gave him a break from touching and focused on sharing him more kisses.
“I’ve loved watching you fill out, I told him. You’re getting bigger; maybe you’ll even get a little taller this summer.”
“I don’t know, I kind of like you being so much bigger than me…”
“Is that so?” I leaned in close to his ear and made my voice low and rumbly.
He rubbed the soap over my chest and played with my nipples. “Yeah… You can be my big, strong vampire knight, always ready to protect me.”
“Oh, a vampire knight?” I teased. “Not a werewolf knight?”
He shook his head.
“What about an elvan knight?”
He laughed softly.
“Mmmm… Or I could become the big, bad dragon who devours you,” I growled.
He flushed; I knew what he liked. “Y-yes…”
“My little prince needs a lot of attention, don’t he?” My hands slid down into the valley between his legs, squeezing the flesh. His reactions were enthralling.
“Yeah… I do,” he agreed, his voice halting. My fingers went deeper. “Oh wow! Blackthorne… I can’t wash you if you distract me like that.”
“Mmmmmm…” I buried my face in his neck as I went on exploring. “Keep trying, Little Moon. We’ll see how long you can hold onto the soap while I work on you.”
The tip of my middle finger pushed inside him. He was warm and silky, and though he was tight at first, I knew it wouldn’t take too long to open up for me. He gasped and clawed at my back until he got used to it, and then bore down on my finger.
“I know, Little Moon. Strong, but for you: gentle. I’ll take good care of you.”
He nodded and rubbed my lower back with the soap. The suds felt nice flowing down my backside.
“Keep going,” I ordered him.
As though he knew he would have to if he wanted more of my hands on him– in him, Justin massaged the soap over every inch of my backside. I rewarded him with the movement he wanted from my finger. He moaned and laid his head on my chest.
“Don’t forget about the front.” I leaned back just a little so that he’d have access.
Nodding, Justin brought the soap around to my hips, then my belly, and then down between my legs. The way he washed my shaft, coating it in bubbles and rubbing them in, top and bottom, tip to base and back up, made me a lot harder. I pulled my finger out and gently urged him down to his knees. He gazed up at me.
“Attention to detail,” I reminded him. I put one foot up on the ledge of the bathtub to give him more access.
He nodded and got to work rubbing the soap between my legs. His touch felt wonderful, and he was exceptionally gentle. I could feel my shaft twitch and pulse with desire, wanting more from him. But I knew he wanted it, too, and I had to get him to draw it out.
“My legs,” I reminded him, firming my tone.
He nodded and scrubbed down my legs. As he was making sure every one of my toes got clean, I slid my fingers into his hair and gently pulled him back up.
“I do so love your attentiveness,” I told him.
Justin placed his palms around the base of my erection and gave me a pleading look.
“You want to taste it, Little Moon?” I ran my fingers through his hair affectionately. He nodded, and I urged him closer. “You’ve been so good. I’ll let you enjoy it for a while.”
Justin’s tongue slid along the vein on the underside as he took my dick into his mouth. He was warm and soft, and I would have let him devour it forever if he wasn’t so eager for other things. I let him suck and swallow down my precum for a few minutes, enjoying the gentle away he caressed my balls and teased me with his fingers, letting them wander further back.
“Take it easy,” I reminded him gently as he tried to take in more of me. He continued, though, and I had to grip his hair to get him to stop. “You’re pushing yourself too hard, baby.”
He gripped my legs, not wanting to let go.
“Let go, Little Moon.” I held his head steady as I leaned back, and he let it slide out of his mouth.
“You taste so good,” he murmured.
I gave him a warm smile and tugged on his hair just enough to get him so stand back up. My next demand was clear and crisp. “I want to taste myself in your kisses.”
He complied without question, just as I knew he would. Not that I’d have to ask, of course; Justin always wanted to kiss, and once he started, he didn’t want to stop. I could taste the earthy musk he’d been drinking from me on his tongue. I was thrilled that me loved my taste, because I’d have plenty to give him as time went on.
My fingers went back between his legs as we kissed. “Two this time,” he begged me. “Please…”
“Well…” I breathed into his ear, “since you asked so nicely…”
I loved making him shiver just from my voice. My low, sensual tones had a power effect on him, and I was certain that he knew how much I was aware of that power I had over him. I gave him want he wanted, pushing two fingers into him, and he was instantly gasping and clawing at my shoulders.
“Oh m– Blackthorne, your hands are so big!”
“The better to please you with, Little Moon.”
He chuckled at the reference and buried his face in my chest. I didn’t give him a chance to say anything else, and pushed further into him. He bore down on me, and his moans echoed through the bathroom. One of his hands went down to grasp my dick; he stroked it needfully.
“It’s ready for me, Blackthorne,” he begged.
“Yes, Little Moon. I’m eager to be inside you, too, but you need a little more stretching.”
He whined a little and moved his hips up and down.
“Oh, you really need it, don’t you? You’re so eager.”
He nodded and looked up at me with pleading eyes. “I want all of you.”
“Soon, baby. Just relax into it.” I pushed by fingers deeper and leaned in so that I could peer over his shoulder and look down at his body. My other hand squeezed one of his cheeks and spread them apart, making him moan and bear down more. The thought that I would soon be inside him, right in the middle of those mounds of flesh, had my dick twitching and straining. I don’t think I could have possibly been any harder in that moment.
Justin pulled me into a kiss that channeled all of his need and passion into me. He rode my fingers until doing so became easier for him, and then he begged for another one. He whined when I pulled out instead.
“No… No, Blackthorne, I need more!”
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” I soothed him, kissing the top of his head. Then I reached around him to turn off the shower. “I just want to get you dried off and on my bed.”
That was enough of a consolation that he didn’t complain any further. I opened the shower door and grabbed a towel to start drying him off, then helped him step out. I followed once I was dry, too, and we went out to the main room together.
We ended up not making love the next night after all. Justin’s dad leaving town hit him a lot harder than he’d expected it to, even with them spending the day together. It didn’t help that Ms. Anderson seemed glad that he was going, or that she didn’t understand why her son cared so much about his father. I helped make sure that I had Raymond’s phone number so that it wasn’t only in Justin’s phone. Raymond promised to stay in contact; now that Ms. Anderson wasn’t the one controlling the phone, he wanted Justin to text him any time he wanted to.
Raymond knew that he couldn’t make up for hardly being there over the past eighteen years, but he still wanted to be there for his son, to get to know him better. He really was trying to do better, to take responsibility. Couldn’t a person be commended for that? Even after past mistakes, a person’s goodness can shine through; for some, effort alone is enough, but there is no shame in accepting help, either.
Justin spent the evening snuggled up on my lap. He tried getting away with not eating, but I kept feeding him blueberries and avocado slices until I felt that I could believe his claims that he was full. He clung tightly to me in his sleep, but I didn’t mind; that’s just part of being there for him. It was a relief to see the text Raymond sent the next morning to say that he’d arrived safely in Seattle. He’d be working that evening and would reply to Justin’s texts on his breaks.
On Wednesday, Justin came to the electronics store with me so that he wouldn’t be lonely. He played on his switch for a while– he even had a carrying case to keep it safe– then went over to Cadence’s shop to say hello. I didn’t realize how long he’d been gone until David had me break for lunch. It had been over an hour. I called him immediately.
“Justin, are you okay?” I asked the instant he picked up. “Where are you?”
“I’m fine. I’m at Cadence’s store, like I told you. What’s wrong? You sound upset.”
“You’ve been over there for an hour and a half!” I pointed out as I left the electronics store and headed down the street.
“Wow, really?” He paused, and I assumed he was checking the time. “That went by really fast. I’ve just been talking with Cadence and Rainbow.” There was some chatter in the background, and then he added, “Oh hey, can you come down here on your break? I have good news!”
“I’m on lunch now,” I told him. “I’ll be right there.”
Justin practically leaped into my arms when I entered the store. “Blackthorne that was quick!”
“Sorry I distracted him for so long,” Cadence told me. “But I had a good reason, I promise!”
I looked between her and Justin. He was grinning, and I couldn’t help but smile, too. “Okay, Little Moon, what is it? Did you find that really rare Type O Negative album?”
He laughed and shook his head. “No, but maybe you can help me find it online so we can celebrate getting my very first job!”
“Of course I’ll he– wait, did you say–“
“I got a job, Blackthorne!” he cheered. “I get to work here!”
Now I was grinning, too. “Wow, congratulations, Little Moon. I’m proud of you.” Then I looked to Cadence. “Thank you.”
“Oh, thank him,” she said. “I’ve been trying to hire him for weeks now, and he finally said ‘yes.’ Actually, Rainbow was the one who really convinced him.”
I chuckled and hugged him again. “Look at you, having people begging you to work for them. See how awesome you are?”
He was all smiles the entire time I took him down to the sandwich shop to pick up lunch. We caught up with Rainbow there as she was getting food for her and Cadence, then sat together in the tiny break room in the back of the shop. It doubled as a back-stock area, which was more materials for pricing and packaging than any actual merchandise.
“I really appreciate you giving him a job,” I told the young women as we ate. “He’s been wanting to earn money for a while now”
“Oh, I appreciate him agreeing to work way more!” Rainbow told me; she was actually excited about it. “We’ve been needing help around the shop so that we can focus on all the paperwork and other stuff we need to get done.”
“They’re getting ready to move their business!” Justin exclaimed.
I look between him and Cadence and Rainbow, worried that he’d blurted out something that was theirs to tell.
“It’s okay,” Cadence assured me. “It’s true, though. We’re finally making some headway in moving out of the state.”
“That’s great! Have you decided on a location, then? Last I heard, you were focused on the west coast.”
Justin could hardly contain himself.
“We have,” Rainbow said. “I’m going to finish my business degree at CSU.”
“California, huh? Which campus?” Calstate had quite a few locations.
Now Justin looked ready to burst with excitement.
“Business is moving too Sacramento,” Cadence announced with a wide grin. “We’re giving it a new name, and we can finally be ourselves instead of toeing the line in this small town.”
“Isn’t that awesome, Blackthorne?!” Justin was out of his seat and nearly bouncing off the walls. “And they want me to keep working for them!”
“Wow, that’s– that’s wonderful news.” The day was just getting better and better. “Do you know when that’ll happen?”
“Well, now that Justin has agreed to help, we can probably be ready to go by the end of summer,” Rainbow said.
“We could drive out there together!” Justin cheered.
I looked to Cadence. “In one, big, happy caravan?”
“We’re game if you are,” she said. “Justin can even drive my car while I drive the moving truck, if he wants.”
Cadence looked to Justin. “It’s okay, you don’t have to.”
Rainbow must have noticed the look of worry on his face, because she asked him, “It’s probably been a long time since you’ve driven, right? But her car is really easy to drive; you can even take it to do errands for us to try it out.”
“That’s probably not a good idea…”
“What? Why not?”
“He doesn’t have his license,” I told her. He didn’t mind people knowing that, but he did have a hard time putting words to it.
“Oh, well that’s an easy fix,” Cadence said. “Any of us can take you driving so you can practice and get ready for the road test.”
“Wait, do you mean you don’t have a learner’s permit either?”
Justin shook his head.
“Some friends and I offered to help him out back in high school,” I explained, “but he wouldn’t have had a car to drive anyway, so he turned us down.”
“Oh… Well, okay then,” Cadence said. “But hey, if you ever decide you want to learn, we’ll help you out.”
“Thanks,” Justin said. His cheeks were a little flushed with embarrassment, but at least they were being accepting. “It might be a long time, though, because of my health.”
We talked a little about Justin’s schedule and the tasks he’d be doing. He wouldn’t work on days he had to visit the hospital, and they would let him relax with me on the weekends. His days wouldn’t even be eight hours long, and they agreed to simply have him come to the shop around the time I drove to the area for my own job. He’d have plenty of breaks, and if he needed a day off, all he had to do was let them know– and to that end, the four of us exchanged phone numbers.
Justin would mostly be tidying up for now: putting away shirts and other clothes, keeping the CDs organized, dusting, vacuuming, and so on. He could help customers but didn’t need to worry about the cash register. If they weren’t getting ready to move, they’d have him help put out new merchandise, but for now they were only ordering if a customer needed something they didn’t have in stock. When they had more things taken care of for the move, he could help pack boxes, but otherwise he could do some cleaning here and there.
Normally, employers didn’t let employees text during work or pick their own hours, but Cadence already saw him as a friend and wanted to help ease him into working. Part of that was allowing him to keep in touch with me so that I knew he was safe. She also wanted to be able to pay him more than $7.50 an hour, but with their budget and the work being so light anyway, Justin didn’t mind. A lot would be different once they got to California, but this was great for now.
Justin stayed there after lunch to keep helping around the shop, and I headed back to work. He met me there a few hours later, all smiles and ready to tell me how it went. He was also very hungry, so we got some food to bring home, and he talked the whole drive. It was amazing to see him so happy– more than amazing, really. I didn’t even mind that he was too tired to make love; seeing him smiling in his sleep as we cuddled was worth it.
Thursday was another hospital day, and Justin decided to rest at my place after his appointments while I was at work. We ended up playing video games until bed time that night. Justin went to work on Friday, and we went out to dinner to celebrate; this time his mother was also invited along, and she was happy to hear all the great news.
Justin and I agreed to save doing anything more intimate than kissing for Saturday night. We could sleep in, catch a matinee at the cinema, then relax under the tree on the hill until dinner time. We talked about taking a three-day weekend before leaving Wyoming; we both wanted to see Yellowstone while we had the chance, and I might even be able to rent a cabin for a night if we were lucky. Until then, we were content with reading, playing games, and watching movies together in between shifts at work.