I took the stairs two at a time for 28 flights. It was nothing. I’d done the entire ground to roof before. Some days I did it instead of going for a run.
It was still early for my appointment with Dae’lin, but I went that direction anyway. The Venatori headquarters was a place that was always busy. It was also the only place in the building where you’d find many supernatural creatures. At night we even had a few vampires who worked with us. It’s not how you’d think it would look with a bunch of magical beings walking around. This isn’t tv it’s real life. Everyone is mostly human looking. The vampires have fangs, but most are retractable and short of their pale complexions you’d never know what they were. Same goes for the were-wolves, were-bears, and well anything were, or more appropriately called Therians. They are humans infected with the Lycanthropy virus of specific creatures all of which are predators. They change once a month at the full moon, and only the strongest of them can change at will.
We even have a dragon working as a receptionist. Her name is Mabel, and she collects pens. A cup of pens lined her desk. You may not use the pens in the cups on her desk. If you want to get on Mabel’s good side you buy her a unique pen – chances are she already has it, but she’ll like you more for trying.
All dragons collect things – it’s in their nature. But short of the collections, you’d never know they were anything but human. I couldn’t name any supernatural creature we monitored and policed that couldn’t at least pull off being human. But there were monster monsters we hunted when they became an issue for society, but most of our job was to make sure the species that made up the Clandestine Providence didn’t prey on the weak and soft humans who knew nothing of the world we lived in, yet were the reason the Clandestine Providence existed.
Lost in my head I ran into someone striding down the halls in front of me. It wasn’t a bad collision, but my chest ached where the big hulk of a shoulder rammed into my solar plexus. Rude much? But when I looked up to see who I’d run into to apologize I saw a pair of identical chocolate eyes staring back at me.
I dropped my gaze to the floor. “I’ll watch where I’m going next time.” I moved to step around my father and go about my business.
He caught my arm and turned me to face him. “Boy, what’s your problem? You are always in your head. I can’t believe they let you hunt if you are so easily distracted.”
I sighed and glared at my father. He was always finding something wrong with me and the way I did things. He thought he was making up for all the time he’d not known about my existence, but I was a grown man by the time he found out I was his son. The irony of it is I had looked up to Kai Viddens my entire life. He was one of the best hunters out there. His record was untarnished. He was a man who the women adored, and he was the hunter every kid wanted to be, especially me.
But by the time I’d found out he was my father my self imposed bitterness against my biological father was so ingrained and entwined with my mommy issues that my daddy issues were too strong. I despised the man who gave me life as I despised the woman who did. It was difficult for me to differentiate between the two ideologies in my mind. I was working on it with my therapist, but I wasn’t there yet and neither was my father.
Kai shook me again, “See there you go again.”
But I didn’t have to say anything. I smelled the soft scent of my savior coming my way. His voice was deep, and he had nothing but a smile for me when I looked at him as he came around the corner. Dorian Vega. The one man who I respected more than anyone else. He was the father figure I had as a child. He was my friend now. Dorian smiled at Kai and touched the hands there gripping my shoulders and Kai removed his tight grip on me. “Nox is safe here, he lets his mind wander. He is not so careless outside of the safe zone of the Apex Unlimited Building.”
Kai glared at Dorian. “Mind your own business, Dorian. My son and I were having a discussion.”
Dorian laughed. “Your son is my business. Or had you forgotten?”
The fury on my father’s face grew, he turned red and the vein in his forehead pulsed. “I did not know he existed, or I would have done something about this attitude of his. You raised my boy to be a fucking fag.”
I stepped between my father and Dorian and put my hand on my father’s chest and shoved him backwards. “Dorian did not make me a fag. I did not turn Nick into a fag. We were born the way we were born and there is nothing you can do about it.” My sexuality was another of my father’s hang ups. I liked men get over it. I also liked women, but that fact seemed to escape him. What made it worse was that I had kissed my brother.
Neither Nick nor I had known we were brothers. How could we when I didn’t know who my father was until I was 18. We were in the same classes for most of our lives. He liked boys, I liked boys. We kinda hooked up for a little while. We got caught kissing in the hallway on our way to do more intimate things and I was told to stay away from Nick by Kai Viddens, Dae’lin and Dorian. So I did. But only because Dorian had asked, not told me to.
Dorian put his hand on my shoulder and guided me around Kai. “Nox, go meet with Dae’lin. She’s ready if you are. Even though it’s early you don’t look too busy.”
I nodded, and I left Kai staring daggers at my mentor and friend and hoped that I hadn’t made things worse for Dorian. It was bad enough that Kai and Dorian’s father were partners. Kai was a friend of the family. I was a friend of the family but that only made the strain worse. I caused problems everywhere I went.