Plans To Go Home

Plans To Go Home

As soon as we were in the elevator I was wrapped around Alex and when the elevator started it descent down Matt held out his hand. “I’m Matt.” I watched as the boys amber eyes lit up as he grinned at Alex. “I’m a null, I don’t know what you are so I understand if you don’t want to shake my hand.”

I took a deep breath and spoke against Alex’s neck. “We’ll work on that first thing. You should be able to touch people without nulling their abilities.”

Alex pulled me tighter against him with the wrap of one arm as he reached out and took the boys hand. “If you can do it Nox, so can I.”

I sighed at that, it wasn’t true, and I heard Alex gasp as he touched Matt’s hand. He quickly pulled it away. “I don’t think I like it that quiet.”

Alex pulled my chin up to look me in the eyes, “You didn’t mind did you?” He said it full of care and concern and there was even a hint of jealousy in his voice.
I shrugged, “It feels good to not see or feel any of it, even if only for a moment.”

“Would you give it all up?” Matt asked.

I folded my self back against Alex and shook my head, “Not in a million years.”

Matt gave me a wry grin and looked at Alex, “Do you know what a tacet is?”

“A what?” He asked.

“A tacet. A formerly magical Venatori whose magic was forcefully taken. That’s what he saved me from.”

Alex chuckled, “Of course he did. And he saved that one from being eaten alive by a pack. He saved a dragon boy after her venatori induced death.” Alex didn’t mention my part in her capture, though I knew he had been angry about it all. I still had to do my job.

The elevator doors finally opened and we were all free from the confines of the plate glass death trap.

We were well out of the casino, and blocks away from the Venatori strong hold in Vegas before we were called from the shadows, “Psst.” Like some cheesy mystery movie.

Alex chuckled at my thoughts and when Ant joined us he was laughing, “I should be wearing a long trench coat and a fedora?”

I grinned and gave him a wink, “Maybe. And maybe nothing else…”

Ant growled at me, “There are children present.”

I rolled my eyes, “They better get used to me if they are going to stick around.”

Ant looked at them and then back at me. And then he looked at Alex who was frowning at me.

“I’m sorry.” My head dropped the moment the words left my mouth. I’d forgotten his issue with Ant and I just set off the landmine again. “I’ll do better.”

Alex sighed and wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me closer to him, “I will admit, that he’s got a certain bit of charm about him. But you are mine.”

I looked up brightly at Alex, “Always. No matter what. I’m sorry I’m a horrible flirt.”

Alex pressed a finger to my lips. “Stop now. It’s okay.” He leaned across and pressed a tender kiss to my lips and my body reacted to his tongue lightly running over my bottom lip before he bit it. “So easy.”

“Only for you.” I whispered back breathlessly.

“Get a room!” Ant said.

“Actually, we’d like to go home.”

Ant grinned. “Fine fine fine. I took Benji to his parents to help them get ready. His parents will be ready soon. I took the liberty of shifting Serenity to her home. Left a bag of cash in her wake to pay for the space. I can take you back to your hotel, and then back home and you can sleep in your own bed.” Ant said mostly to me.

Both of them laughed at the sigh coming from my mouth. “I think he’d like that. Though we’ll walk to the casino, check out properly and then you can take us all home. You have room for two more Nox?”

I nodded, “There is always room. We can make it.”

Alex sighed. I wasn’t sure he was happy about all that, but he’d do. but I was happy. Alex was going home with me, at least temporarily. I hoped he’d stay longer but I wasn’t going to push it. Even for the night as long as he didn’t run away completely again I could survive. I really hadn’t realized how much I needed him.

Scarlet Snow

Scarlet Snow

I wasn’t exactly sure Scarlet was going to like us barging into her casino sweet like we did, especially with a baby werewolf in tow. Though we were greeted at the doors by two of her goons, and Matt who smiled at me with bright eyes. “Come with me.” I said and Matt fell in behind us, the two goons growling as they followed. Alex was rolling his eyes when I glanced at him, “Everyone just does what you say.”

I smirked and he gave me a playful smile. “He’s 16, and kinda crushing.” I said. Alex glanced back at Matt but I knew the boy was blushing and Alex’s smirk only confirmed it.

“He’s mine.” Alex said as he wrapped his arm around my waist dislodging the wolf boy from my arm almost immediately. The four of us stopped and the kid was backing away. “Hey I won’t hurt you.” Alex said trying to calm the kid down.

I held my hand out to him, “It’s alright. He won’t hurt you, I promise.”

Alex whispered, “His name is Fay-lin, though no idea how to spell it.”

“I promise Faelen, he won’t hurt you and when we get someplace safe I’ll make proper introductions. We are going to see a scary mean woman and I need you to stay with him alright.” I nodded towards Matt, “I don’t want her to hurt you, we got you. All of us got you.”

Faelen latched on to Matt’s arm and Alex frowned, “I didn’t mean to scare him.”

“I know. I think he’s just a little afraid of strangers.”

“Except you.” Alex laughed. “He wasn’t exactly let me cuddle with you the first time we met.”

Matt added quietly, “You make people feel safe, some of us just don’t want to accept that at first.”

Alex nodded, “I’d agree with that statement. Both of them.” He smirked as the goons pushed open the door.

“Our mistress is expecting you.” One said.

“Is she now, because you radioed ahead?” Alex asked. He didn’t stop and he didn’t wait for me, he rushed forward and was standing in front of me while Scarlet sat in the same place she had the first time I’d met her. In a white dress this time – almost washing her out completely. I’d almost take her for a vampire except I knew she was Venatori. I could feel her power.

I looked back at Matt and he nodded, he didn’t need me to tell him to watch out for Faelen. Matt couldn’t feel her power, I watched the patterns of it float around him and Faelen. The boy at least knew how to extend himself to help others. Made me wonder if he’d done a lot of that growing up. I definitely could have used it as a kid myself.

I was about to say something when Alex spoke ahead of me. “Scarlet Snow, yes?”

She gave Alex a lazy smile, like a leopard might give overly ambitious prey like a chihuahua. “I am Scarlet Snow, but you knew that walking into my building like you owned the place Mr. James Hutton. Or should I call you Alex Kennedy.”

There was a moment of pause from Alex as she called out his real name, he glanced back at me and as I shrugged, Scarlet went on, “Don’t blame the boy, I knew you before you came to my town. The real name of one of the last living dreamwalkers.”

“Oh yes. I know that too.” Scarlet stood up slowly, making a show of stretching her long legs out. The seduction was real and it was rammed down your throat even if you didn’t want to feel it, even her body guards were tensing at the onslaught of power. “We here in Vegas have an understanding. Abraham and I talk.”

Alex growled, “I’m sure you more than talk. What do you want?”

She sashayed towards me, “He knows exactly what I want. Did you perform your duties?” She asked me as she ran her fingers down my cheek.

I stepped back though it was probably one of the hardest things I’d done in my life. Right up there with saying no to Ant in the middle of the power flurry he had been sending at me years ago. My voice caught in my throat and I had to start again, swallowing felt like dry sand paper. “Abraham has no intentions of allying with Brandon. The status quo and all.”

“And what of their book?” Scarlet asked closing the distance once again.

This time I walked around her to stand closer to Alex. She twisted in her place watching me walk and then sneering when I wrapped my arm around him. Alex’s smirk made me smile. He was proud in that moment. Beautiful woman and he won. As if there was any challenge to it. “We have it. The vampires won’t get it.”

“So Brandon’s plan is thwarted here.”

I nodded, “As far as I know. But Abraham still might be a thorn in your side.”

She waved her hand as if to dismiss us. But I interrupted before she could do so verbally. “And I’m taking Matthew Davenport with me. I can teach him.”

Scarlet didn’t react she just laughed, “Good riddance. My life will be so much easier with the boy gone.”

Wow! I didn’t say it out loud but I looked at Alex and he just led the way out, the boys followed. The goons did not. We were lucky in that. The four of us took the elevator – no one wanted to be here any longer than we had to.

Meeting Darwynn

Meeting Darwynn

I felt the pull of more therian power following us, but Alex asked, “What are we going to do with him?” He nodded towards the boy clutching my hand.

“He has to come home with us. Maybe Adrian or Dom can help put him in a pack.”

Alex laughed, “I don’t think he wants to leave you. His mind is quiet while touching you.” From the shadows of the alley we passed, “He’s found a pack.”

I recognized the voice and smiled, “Not here to kill me I hope?” I joked.

But the tease put Alex on high alert as he knew what was going on. Darwynn shook his head, “I saw what you did back there. Another life for a life?”

I shook my head. “No. I’ll make sure the kid is safe and he’ll never have to see that man again.”

“So you aren’t going to send Venatori after the child abuser?”

I shook my head. “Not unless I need to. Do I need to?”

Darwynn smirked, “You wouldn’t fault a man for taking care of business then?”

“I have no love for child abusers. If there is proof, then by all means.” I said. Darwynn handed me a large envelope sealed.

I lifted it. “Do I need to look?”

Alex squeezed my hand. “No.” He took the envelope from my hand, “I can see the truth. He witnessed it all, this boy and another.”

Darwynn smiled, “I’ve been following you and the wolf boy after your last encounter with him. I wanted to see the truth.”

I nodded, “So he’s chosen a pack. I’m not a wolf.” I said.

Alex laughed, “I don’t think it matters. You bind people without knowing about it.” I looked at Alex and he whispered in my head We’ll talk about it later.

I wasn’t sure that we would, Alex didn’t like to share and I would likely forget to ask again.

“How rude of me. Alex, this is Darwynn, Darwynn, James Hutton.”

“I know who he is,” Darwynn said. “I’ve followed him too for a time.”

“We will be out of your city soon,” I said.

“This isn’t my city. I go where I’m needed. I’m sure New York will be on my list of places to be.” Darwynn said.

“Paid to kill your next mark.” I nodded. “You could work with me.” I offered.

“Now why would I want to do that?” Darwynn asked. “I have a pretty great set up now.”

“But you do as you are told, not what you want. You have a moral compass, a set of laws. Hunting Venatori is not exactly against those laws, but there are people who do bad things that you could stop.”

Darwynn shook his head, “Nah kid.” He pulled a card from his pocket. “Though if you need my services.” He said just before slipping off into the shadows.

“He’s a lot strange.” Alex said.

“He’s an assassin. He kills my kind for the sport of it.” I said as I turned to go inside.

“You aren’t afraid?” Alex asked.

“Of Darwynn?” I shook my head. “The only way he can kill me is if I don’t know he’s coming.”

“Which is like always.” Alex argued.

“Do you know how many times he’s tried to kill me?” I asked.

Alex stared at me while we walked into the doors and as we stopped in front of the stair well doors. “Yes.” He said simply.

“And did he?”

Alex sighed, “No, but it’s because he missed.”

I shrugged, “Or fate intervened, the universe, things neither of us really want to talk about.”

“So you believe now?” Alex asked.

I shrugged, “I dunno what I believe. That book? Darwynn missing. Someone caring enough about me to try to kill me, that alone says they might believe I can do something. You and me, dreaming about each other without ever knowing each other. Something pulled us together.”

Alex shook his head. “I don’t know either. And we’ll never really know. But I do know I’m not letting you get hurt.”

I grinned at Alex, “Are you going to stay by my side through everything? Showers, and hunts, and meetings.” I would love Alex’s company but I knew he’d get tired of me and then he’d leave again. I was too much. I was a mess and Alex had to pick up the pieces.

Alex squeezed my hand as he headed towards the door. “I think we need to get back to the city sooner rather than later. You need to wrap up with Scarlet Snow. Let’s go do that.”

“I….” I stammered out, then sighed, “You coming with me?”

“Of course.” Alex said.

Little Wolf Boy

Little Wolf Boy

Benji didn’t really agree with me about things, but he also didn’t make it an issue. Though I saw it in his face when he caught a glance at the cross swords to my temple. It didn’t surprise me, not the way his father had reacted to me. I’d ask later why he didn’t like me but right now I was just trying to get through the night. My day had gone well enough and all I really wanted to do was curl up with Alex and worship him. But I could sleep too.

There were no more incidents between us, everything looked alright on the outside, but inside I was hiding things, and I wasn’t enjoying the feeling. Both Ant and Alex knew it, but neither told me to let it go. I was manning up for Benji’s sake. A telepath who didn’t need my baggage. When dinner was finished I’d had three glasses of wine. Each one different and perfectly paired with the food Alex had suggested and ordered. I wasn’t a wine guy, but it was nice to have someone who actually like pairing food with wine. Made me wonder how many times Alex used his talents with his marks. I sighed. There was always going to be that jealous streak. Alex was a con man. He’d seen more places than I’d ever dream of and he’d done so many more things. I had lived a sheltered life, and that life was more adventurous than most Venatori. And I was the outcast, straddling two worlds not a part of either one.

We left the casino with Benji heading to his parents home to tell them they were leaving. All of them. He was going to blame it on the Venatori, tell them the only safe place was New York. He had protection there. Which wasn’t very far from the truth, but it wasn’t the reason he was going to New York. Alex had been very convincing – as I expected he was in most things. He had a talent for persuasion and not just because he could nudge you one way or the other. His power came naturally as well – that con man upbringing at work.

Ant was going to shadow walk us all home – Serenity included. He was going to set Benji up in the Night Life building until they found themselves a new home. Which Ant also offered to get their real estate guy on the line to start the process. I never really did understand what Benji had heard that got him in trouble with the vampires, but Ant was going to help him out. And if Ant understood I didn’t much care about the rest. I trusted both Alex and Ant.

Alex and I got the rest of the night to ourselves which meant as we walked I was curled around his arm and trying not to fall into complete emptiness I did have plans. I was in the middle of a naughty thought with Alex sitting by and watching in my head when a bolt of flesh rammed into my hip and the three of us toppled to the ground.

A fourth man lumbered out of the shadows yelling, “Come back here you flea ridden son of a bitch.” He was about to pounce on top of us when I held up my hand and he flew backwards while I helped myself and Alex up before squatting down to assess the boy who’d run into me. My hip ached but it was already feeling less like I’d been run over by a werewolf. The boy raidated the power of the pack with no connections looking for that home – a place to belong. I felt for him and smiled when the boy looked up at me. “Fancy meeting you again.”

The other man had recovered from his push backwards and was looking at me like I was an alien. “He’s mine Feras. No need for you to get involved.”

“Seems he’s running away from you, plenty for me to get involved in.” I said even as I felt Alex cautioning me with his hand on my shoulder and a mental nudge in my head. I looked at the boy, “He harassing you?”

But the boy didn’t answer just stepped behind me and glared at the man chasing him. “What’s he done?” I asked.

“He stole from me for starters.”

“What did he steal?” I asked.

The boy tapped me on the hip he’d run into and handed me a half mouldy piece of bread likely from the dumpster behind the man’s shop. He had the look of a mechanic, so an old lunch. “Let me guess you were going to eat this after you threw it in the garbage.” I stepped away from the man and handed it back to him. He stood and stared at it but didn’t take it from me. “Well take it. Eat it. He’s returning the stolen item now off with you.”

The man looked at me and growled. I wove a weave of air and made the man my puppet. He struggled against the bonds of air as I placed the stale bread in his hand and closed his grip on it. “I said take it.”

The man’s hand closed but he fought against the bonds as I pushed the mouldy bread towards his mouth. “Was that his only crime?”

The man shook his head. But he didn’t say anything. “So what did he do to deserve your wrath.”

“I’m a fucking alpha and he stole from me.”

“An alpha huh? If you were an alpha the boy wouldn’t be looking for a pack.” I held out my hand to the boy and he came and took my hand without question. “Seems he listens quite fine to someone who isn’t going to beat him.” The boy stood behind me hiding from the man. “He seems rather afraid of you. Do you want to tell me why that is?”

He shook his head violently. “No, you take him. Just get him the fuck out of my face.” I released the bonds and the man almost fell over as he righted himself. He started to back away. “I want nothing to do with you. Leave me the fuck alone.”

I grinned at him, “My pleasure. Next time I find you are beating young boys I’ll have your head on a pike and we’ll see who makes that mistake again.”

The boy grasped my hand and I looked down at him. His power was lessened without the fright and I felt the call of the pack when he brushed his cheek against my arm.

Alex was standing where I left him watching me with a smirk on his face. “Pretty boy, please remind me never to get on your bad side.”

I stepped into Alex, “You could never be on my bad side. Even if I’m angry with you.”

Alex took my free hand and we walked the rest of the way to the hotel.

Dinner with Friends

Dinner with Friends

The place Alex led the rest of us to was fancy and I was dressed for the occasion – me in my Armani and the green shirt that my hair matched. I was grateful my nails were chipped, the black nail polish was working with the rest of the outfit. Alex’s new watch setting off the whole thing. I looked like I belonged even if I didn’t feel it.

Alex kept his hand in mine as we walked through the rows of fancy tables lined with white linen and crystal glasses. I even bet the silverware was real silver and the plates fine China. I kept my hands to myself, well except for the one in Alex’s hand. I felt like a bull in a China shop. Like I could break anything with a glance.

Chill, baby. Alex whispered in my head. I sighed and let go of my shield. I couldn’t keep the world out of my head and not feel like I was going to burst like a balloon. As we sat down, Alex pulled my chair out for me and I sat down, the world became a muddled mess of patterns and I had to close my eyes while I readjusted. My body was stressed to the point of exhaustion. Anxiety over missing Alex, the depression that came with his rejection, finally paying it’s final toll on my body. Alex was the only one who knew. His hand pressed against my thigh after he sat down. Ant on the other side of me extended his shield to me. I felt his magic pass over me – extending around our table. His power was extraordinary.

I opened my eyes and looked at him questioningly. He smiled, “That help?”

I nodded, “What did you do?”

“Figured Alex could use some help keeping you in check. It’s two fold – a trick my mother taught me to feed on the power around me, and block anything else coming at us.”

“Wait!” Benji cried out, “You are feeding on us?”

Ant shook his head, “Not you. You don’t exude power, Nox does, I do, Mother does, Alex does to an extent, but I’ve only really noticed it when he’s been with Nox. Another side effect, no one can really hear our conversation and definitely not our thoughts.”

Alex nodded slowly as he started to understand, “So you are feeding on the power that people try to read us, as well as the power inside your bubble?”

Ant nodded, “Yes. And Nox’s power is the only one I’m siphoning.”

“Thank you.” I said but looked at Alex, “Is that alright with you?”

Alex nodded and put his hands around the back of my neck and pulled me close enough to kiss but didn’t press his lips to mine, “Fuck, Baby, if I could do that I would.” Then he kissed me hard.

When we broke apart I pressed my forehead to his, “You do so much more.”

Alex laughed. “I make you crazy.”

I bit my bottom lip and grinned at him, “Crazy for you.”

Alex let me go but his hand trailed down my arm and he entwined his fingers with mine.

The waitress dressed in a black tuxedo suit poured four glasses of water, “What can I get you gentlemen?”

Alex answered quickly, “We will have a bottle of your finest red to start. And what would you recommend.”

The waitress spouted off her recommendations but I wasn’t listening to her. Alex was talking to us. I recommend the filet mignon and whatever sides you like. They don’t like substitutions but they will do whatever we want.

Ant laughed in my head, but that was the only response I got. Benji just nodded.

Alex nodded when she was done. “I think we’ll all have medium rare fillet mignon with whatever roasted house vegetable you have and your macaroni and cheese with bacon.”

Alex looked at me with bright smile. That’s good?

I just smirked and he rolled his eyes. He knew what I ate, and while I didn’t really like macaroni and cheese, the bacon had been for my benefit.

The waitress started to speak but her frown faded to a smile and she nodded, “Right away.”

When she was gone I asked, “Which one of you compelled her?”

All three of them looked guilty, but no one fessed up. “Fine.” I said with a mock growl.

Alex squeezed my hand while the three of them chatted about various things. Me I focused on one thing – Alex’s hand in mine.

An appetizer came that we didn’t officially order. Was a caprese salad – something I’d eat – tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and several Italian meats with a balsamic vignette lightly drizzled over the top with more in a small bowl. I didn’t ask who ordered it, it didn’t really matter. The wine paired nicely with it and I sipped and nibbled at the food in front of me – as well as a piece of warm fresh bread. We were not at an Italian restaurant – more like one of those places that served whatever the hell they wanted and you paid a fortune for anyway.

Ant said something and I looked up having heard my name. Ant repeated, “Nox, you think Benji will like New York?”

I shrugged, “I guess, why is he visiting us?” I looked to Alex asking.

“You really weren’t paying attention?” Benji asked. “They said you weren’t. Lost in your head.”

Ant laughed, “No lost in Alex. He’s stressed out.” Ant looked at me with a friendly smile, he was used to me zoning out, “Benji and his family are moving to New York.”

“Why?” I asked.

Benji rolled his eyes, “Because vampires want to kill me and I don’t know why.”

“You overheard something you shouldn’t have.”

“I swear I didn’t.” Benji announced. “Ant says it was about a book. Alex too. That is the only thing they think it could be. But I heard nothing about a book.”

“Scarlet says Brandon is talking to Abraham about the New World Order.”

“What’s that?” Benji asked, “They said something about it.”

Ant answered for me. “NWO is all about taking the helm of the world. Exposing the supernatural and taking control. Just being part of it can lead to your death.”

I asked, “So what did you hear, Benji?”

He looked at me, “So now you are paying attention.” He kinda growled at me, but it wasn’t directed at me, as he sighed, “They were talking about it that’s all. Abraham kept saying no. Vegas works perfect.”

“Did any of you hear Abraham change his thoughts?” I knew all of them had individual dealings with the man. But no one said anything differently.

Ant added, “He’s rather closed off – the telepaths won’t read him well.”

I nodded. “That’s okay. I’ll ask him when I see him.”

“Is that what you are doing for the Venatori?” Alex asked.

“Yeah. Scarlet wanted me to find out and take care of Abraham if he was going to change the status quo of Vegas. It works here, however bizarrely but it works. As long as the Clandestine Providence isn’t broken then Abraham gets to live.”

Not So Happy Place

Not So Happy Place

The four of us left the hotel, I was still wrapped around Alex, or rather I wrapped myself around him as we walked. It could be just a bunch of guys walking down the street together but I was being possessive – not my usual thing. Alex’s smile grew at my thought. It’s my thought. He said.

I didn’t much care who’s thought it was, I wanted to touch Alex and walking made that difficult but I leaned into him anyway and he had no problem wrapping his arm around me to keep me close.

Ant asked, “Where are we going? And why are we walking?”

Alex answered quickly, “It’s not far.” He smirked. “I didn’t think you wanted to watch Nox and I in the back seat of a car.”

“At least we can choose to not see it right?” Benji shook his head, “As if that’s even a possibility with Mr. I Have No Shields.”

I looked at Alex’s friend with a frown and closed my mind off from everyone. Alex gasped as if I were choking him I started poking holes in my shield and soon Alex relaxed back into me That’s better. he thought at me. “It’s harder, but I can manage.”

Ant frowned, “I hate when you do that.”

“I can’t just block Benji, I’m not a telepath.”

Ant nodded, “I know.”

Benji sighed, “You don’t have to block, I just wonder why you don’t shield like every other Fera…. Venatori I know.”

“Feras is fine, I don’t mind. I’ve been called much worse.”

“What’s worse than Feras for a Venatori.”

“Faggot.” Both Alex and Ant said at the same time and then looked at each other with a frown. I wasn’t sure if either of them liked that they knew me as well as the other.

Ant continued on as he watched Alex for his reaction, “Nox has a thing about people who are homophobic. He gets even a small inkling that you don’t like gay men, and he makes it a point to make you uncomfortable.”

“That has nothing to do with being Venatori.” Benji added.

“I know. Feras doesn’t bother me. I’ve been called so many names in my life I don’t let it bother me.”

“How evolved of you.” Benji said.

I shrugged. “Be an outcast your whole life…” I said and pulled away from Alex and walked ahead of the group. Alex would tell me when I needed to turn or whatever, he didn’t follow me but I felt his gaze on my back.

Ant spoke as I walked off. “Don’t take his tantrum the wrong way. He’d rather not think about his childhood except for the boy in his dreams. Everything else is a harsh memory.”

“He didn’t have friends?” Benji asked “Other than Tinman here?”

Ant laughed as I assumed Alex glared at him, “There was Sage and Mia and Jace if you call him a friend.”

“We don’t.” Alex growled.

“Mia led the boys down one path that lead Nox to explore things and Sage well, for a boy who didn’t like to be touched he was and is very touchy feely with Nox despite his own wife and child on the way. Nox never had a normal life.”

Benji laughed, “He’s Feras. That’s the way it should be.”

I glanced back and growled. “More stereotypes.” The fuel to the anger was sitting in my gut and the only thing keeping me from running back home or away was Alex. My promise I wouldn’t leave him. It wasn’t about him, or a fight with him.

“That’s enough Benj.” Alex said. “This is supposed to be a friendly dinner.”

“I’m not…” Benji said but his words cut off and there was a long drawn out pause between what he started to say and what he ended up saying, “Look, sorry, Nox. Venatori are the pricks of the world, it’s hard to get past that. I won’t judge you based on that.”

“So kind of you.” I said, I turned around and looked at Benji, I walked a few steps before stopping to the words in my head telling me too. “You always do what he says?” I asked

Benji smirked, “Never do what he says. I usually do the opposite. But he’s right, I’m his best friend, you’re his boyfriend, we should try to get along. Just like he tries to get along with your friends.”

“He hasn’t met my friends.” I said.

“Hey!” Ant shouted playfully, “What am I chopped liver?”

I grinned at him, “You are more than a friend.”

“Like that doesn’t make it sound worse to a guy who already hates me.”

“I don’t hate you.” Alex corrected, “I just…”

“He’s jealous.” Benji grinned. “You and Nox have something he can’t.”

Ant just laughed and opened the door for the rest of us. “I have nothing on your tinman. Nox is fully in love, and completely taken. And by the way, I don’t do men.”

“Just Nox.” Alex grinned as he took my hand and dragged me into the casino with him. He pulled my hand up to his lips and pressed a kiss. “It’s alright.”

I nodded knowing it was, but I was already in that place – a place I didn’t want to be and a place I needed to be away from. I was hoping good food, and good company would fix that. If not my plans for Alex were about to fall apart.