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A Vampire Charmie Happily Ever After

Chapter Text

I run into him at a Manhattan coffee shop—literally. He comes rushing out the door and would have fallen, spilled his coffee, had I not latched onto his bony elbow to steady him. 

He stutters, “Sorry” and flips dark curls out of his face with a backwards tic of his head. That’s really all it takes for me to be sold.

Modern vampires don’t “stalk” anymore, not necessarily. Since humans now know of us, it’s in poor taste (vampire humor) to stalk a person, like we’re still the medieval monsters of yore. We’re supposed to follow rules—no stalking, no murdering, yadda yadda—but when the mood strikes, it’s impossible to ignore.

Plus, it’s almost Halloween.

Behind him, “Time Warp” plays on the radio, and tiny pumpkins sit on countertops. It’s the time of year for monsters in New York, and this kid … Woof. Gimme this kid.

“Sorry,” he says again, putting some space between us. His green eyes—who even has eyes like that?—scan my body, toes to the top of my head. He leans his upper body back to study my face, as if I’m just fucking huge, but I’m not that much taller than him. I’m just … bigger. Everywhere. This kid is built like Jack Skellington. He gives me a quick, tight-lipped smile, and there might even be a glint in his eyes.

Hmm, like what you see?

He steps past me into a dark, cloudy day smelling like espresso and sweet smoke. I know that smell, almost like pumpkin pie. The kid has been smoking cloves.

Nonchalantly, as if my week hasn’t just been made, I step into the coffee shop and then immediately leave. I tail him through the crowded Manhattan morning. Don’t worry, I won’t burn up. That whole thing about vampires being nocturnal is a huge lie, which we had to clarify when we “came out” to the humans years ago. We also have reflections (thank God; how would I do my hair?) and can be seen on camera.

The whole drinking blood thing, though? That’s fully fact.

I have to move fast because the kid walks quickly, practically dances around people. Must be a born and bred New Yorker. No one else knows how to navigate these sidewalks, although I’ve spent decades of my immortal life learning.

When he crosses streets, I linger back and admire his long legs, clad in black skinny jeans. When he looks left and right, I get quick glimpse of a pale jaw that looks cut from marble. He sips his coffee as he walks, adjusting the dark linen messenger bag on his shoulder. Then, he’s texting, too. I don’t even think he’s looking up, yet he manages to avoid another run-in like the one we had at the coffee shop. Definitely a native.

We end up near New York University—no surprise, he’s a student. A blonde girl sneaks up on him and jokingly says, “Boo,” just as I linger behind a parking sign. The kid doesn’t jump or anything, just gives her a quick shoulder hug, but it’s not the intimate embrace of two people romantically involved. Just friends then. 

Hopefully, he’s unattached. That’ll make this whole thing much easier. Then again, I’ve never had much of a problem seducing humans. What’s that dumb song? “I’m sexy, and I know it.” Yeah, my life has pretty much gone like that since I almost died in the 1700s and ended up … this: a handsome monster hunting some pretty prey.

And, Christ, the kid is pretty. He stands outside a university building with his coffee and laughs with his friends. Mouth the color of a strawberry lollipop, white teeth glinting, he laughs with his entire body. I’m most intrigued by that fucking hair. What’s that going to feel like between my fingers, huh? 

Well, that was a lie. I’m actually most intrigued by the pale throat that peeks out between the upturned collars of his coat. How soft is that skin? What will it taste like? Only one way to find out.

Chapter Text

On my second day of stalking the kid, I realize I want to buy him a nice fucking coat. He looks like he’s freezing, his shoulders curled forward as he walks into a stiff New York breeze. Fallen leaves of red and orange flit past. Being a native, I’m sure he has a ton of coats; it’s a requirement of living here. Maybe he just picked the wrong coat today?

I fight the urge to kidnap him and wrap him in blankets. No need to rush things.

See, stalking is all about patience. I spot something I want, and I wait. I get to know my prey’s patterns. For instance, the kid wakes up early and doesn’t eat breakfast. I have the perfect view of his apartment from a half-abandoned building across the street.

I know he sits on the windowsill when he smokes his cloves, one long leg swinging in the open air. He owns a bunch of movies and books but barely any furniture—and no wonder. His place is tiny. With my height and broad shoulders, I’m going to look like Frankenstein’s creature in there. He has a bed, at least. Thank Christ; we’re going to need that.

I need him.

He’s so goddamn gorgeous. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he wasn’t human. I’d say he was a Tolkien elf. Those cheekbones of his will someday cut glass, I can tell, but there’s still a thin layer of youthful baby fat that’ll be gone within a year. I don’t think he needs to shave; his chiseled jaw is going to feel beautiful in my hands. My thoughts often linger on the hair, though. I can’t wait to touch it.

I still don’t know his name.

On Thursday, I forget myself. I don’t know what I’m thinking, shit, like I’m some newbie bloodsucker on the hunt? I think I wanted to get another mouthful of his scent, maybe see what he smells like minus the coffee. I get too close—too damn close—and those green eyes flicker in my direction, study my face.

His expression wrinkles for a second. He’s trying to remember how we know each other. Before he can figure it out, I do my disappearing act. Yes, vampires can disappear, okay? Not literally, but we can disappear from your mind, become an empty space where a body once stood. I “disappear” but still watch the kid. He blinks a couple times, lips parted, as he turns his head right to left, searching for me.

Not gonna find me today, sweetie.

That blonde friend of his walks up. He startles when she puts her arm around his shoulders and starts dragging him away, but his head spins back in my direction. If I wasn’t messing with him, he’d be looking right at me.

***

The night of Halloween, the kid is obviously spooked. Across the street, he waits in line with his friends outside a gay club playing a techno remix of “Monster Mash.” The night is tepid like tea gone half-cold, warmer than it’s been in days, which is a relief. At least the kid isn’t shivering. Unlike his cohorts, he’s also not wearing a costume.

Instead, he’s got on those delicious ass-hugging black skinny jeans and a black jacket with rainbow arms and what looks to be a prowling panther on the back. He’d be sexy as hell if not for the nervous way he looks around, over his shoulder, across the street. Maybe he senses I’m watching? Maybe, but I won’t let him see me until we get inside.

A troupe of female Ghostbusters rushes past me on the sidewalk. The full moon adds an air of menace, especially when thick clouds cross its path. Somewhere, a cat howls. It’s Halloween, baby; let the games begin.

Once the kid is in the club, I disappear long enough to walk right past the bouncer—not that he would turn me away with the way I look tonight. I busted out the expensive threads: a navy blue Armani suit, collar shirt, no tie. I hate ties. I didn’t shave because I wanted whiskers. I want to rub my face all over the kid’s pale skin. Leave marks. I just don't like to wait in line.

Inside, the club smells like sweat and too much perfume, but I smell him by the bar. That’s right, I caught his scent yesterday. A breeze carried it to me like an expensive delicacy on a silver plate. Minus the coffee, he’s a mix of sandalwood, smoke, and lavender fabric softener. I’ll have to get his clothes off to enjoy the full bouquet.

He must know the bartender. They talk, faces close. When the bartender smiles, the kid doesn’t. God, I can feel his anxiety from here. Yum.

I’m standing beneath a dancing blue-green light when he spots me, and damned if he doesn’t sense my unholy presence. He brushes hair off his cheek, out of his eyes, and looks right at me. I don’t disappear this time.

Go ahead, look your fill, kid.

Because tonight is my night. I’ve waited long enough.

Anger writ large on his face, the brave little bastard kicks away from his friends at the bar and rushes right at me … but I disappear before he can shove through the crowd. I let the shadows embrace me and watch him huff out a frustrated breath of air as he turns in a circle. But I’m gone, baby. Gone.

***

I’ve never been inside his apartment before, although I’ve watched through the windows plenty. A couple minutes ago, I jumped from my perch across the street onto his windowsill before sneaking inside easily because it’s not as though the kid thought to lock his window. On the seventh floor, why would he? Not like any human could get in that way. But, oh, he didn’t count on me.

I run my finger over spines of books. I press the palm of my hand against his pillow as though I might feel him there. I don’t. Although there is an outline in the unmade sheets that resembles his slim body—a ghostly remnant. There’s a tiny pumpkin on his kitchen counter next to a bag of Sour Patch Kids.

I want caaaaandy …

I hear him in the hallway on the phone, plus the clatter of keys. Home early, no doubt spooked at the club after my inexplicable exit.

“I realize it’s a long shot,” he says through wood, “but just do a search.”

His voice … The first time I heard it, on that stuttered “sorry,” I was sort of surprised by its enchanting depth. I wouldn’t have expected a guy with such delicate features to have a voice so resonant, sensual, like warm caramel to my ears. I’ve heard him speak since, usually on the phone or to his blonde friend, and he speaks too quickly, stumbles over his words. I don’t think the kid is generally a nervous person; I just think his brain moves too fast.

I linger back in the shadows as the door swings open. He slams it behind him. Locks the deadbolt and chain.

Too late, gorgeous.

He walks inside and stops in the center of the apartment—which, small as it is, only takes two of his long-legged steps. “What?” he squeaks into the phone, and from where I stand, I can hear whoever’s on the other side of the line: a man, bass beats behind. Someone at the club.

The voice says, “I pulled up the security footage.”

Must have been the idea of my pretty prey. So he’s smart. I like that.

Phone voice: “Dude, the guy you think has been following you? He’s in the supernatural registry as a vampire.”

He cusses and buries one hand in his hair.

“I think you’re being stalked. Vampires know it’s illegal, but some of them don’t care. Look, just come back to the club. Come …”

The words continue, but the kid must have just noticed the window is open. Oh, yeah, the room is positively filled with the scent of his fear. His heart rate is off the charts as he slowly lowers the cell phone from his ear, his buddy still begging him to come back to the club, saying he’ll be safe there.

I turn on the lamp to my left, and the kid spins to face me. His phone hits the ground as he takes one step back, but I’m quick. Real quick. I crowd him against the wall. My hands cage him in as he tries to lean even further into the plaster. When I reach out and rub my thumb over his bottom lip, his breath hitches.

“Please … don’t …”

I’m not sure what he was going to ask me not to do, but he stops talking when I cup his cheek in my hand. I say, “I’m not going to hurt you. I just want something sweet for Halloween.”

Chapter Text

“I’m not going to hurt you. I just want something sweet for Halloween.”

His shoulders curl up around his ears as though trying to protect him, and his eyes squeeze shut when my fingers trail down the side of his neck. Yep, he’s soft everywhere, like silk. I wrap one of his curls around my fingertip. Fuck, this kid should be illegal.

“I don’t suppose I could ask you to just leave me alone?” Even though his voice shakes, he sort of smiles.

I chuckle and press my mouth against his forehead. I can’t hold back with him so damn close, vibrating with fear. I push my hand into the hair at his nape and tangle my fingers. It’s official: pack my bags, I’m moving here to this tiny hallway with his body under mine. “What’s your name?” I ask.

“Timothee.”

I hum and press a kiss just under his jaw. “Is that French?”

“Y-yeah.” His hands are curled into fists at his sides, and if I don’t calm him down, his heart is going to fucking stop—and I can’t have that.

“You like the way I look,” I whisper right against his ear. “I saw the way you looked at me at the coffee shop the day we met. Admit it.”

He chews on his bottom lip before speaking. “Are you going to kill me?”

“Fuck no.” I touch his nose with mine. "Absolutely not."

“Then w-what do you want?”

I smile before I kiss him, smile so he can see the tips of my fangs. His frightened gasp allows me to capture his lips and claim his mouth with my tongue.

He shoves his fists against my chest for about five seconds before realizing that’s a losing battle. I kiss harder, and he lets me, plush mouth open wide. He tastes like the remnants of alcohol—probably some hurriedly shot bit of liquor he took before chasing me into the night. Beneath that is the sweetness of his clove cigarettes and the sweetness of, well, him. I knew he’d be like toffee in my mouth.

I unbutton his jacket with him staring up at me, lips parted and wet. I slide the fabric from his shoulders, and it falls to the ground in a quiet whisper. Now, there’s nothing in my way but a thin black t-shirt. I tickle my hands up his bare back.

He shivers, digging his fingers into my shoulders. “You’re freezing.”

I suck the side of his neck, and he shivers some more. “I’m dead. Has a vampire ever had you before?”

“Wha … n-no.”

I wonder if he always has this much trouble talking or if he likes the way my teeth scrape across his collarbone. I’m thinking the latter. I run my hands down over his ass and lift him by his thighs. He clutches to me for but a moment before noticing I’m definitely strong enough to carry his skinny ass across the room.

I wrap my arms around him, a hand to his upper back and another cradling the base of his skull, as I kneel on the bed’s edge and lower us both to its unmade surface. His hair spreads like melting dark chocolate across the pillowcase as I loom over him.

I touch his Adam’s apple with my thumb and just lightly wrap my hand around the front of his throat. I just want to see how it feels—my mistake. There goes his heart rate again. “Don’t be scared,” I whisper.

The little shit rolls his eyes. “You can’t tell me not to be scared and expect it to work.”

Oh. Snarky. I love it. I suck his bottom lip into my mouth and bite down a bit. He shoves at my shoulders again—pointless—until I stop and just kiss him. I’m fucking enamored with the way his mouth opens for me, the way his sweet tongue reaches out to touch mine. I sneak a hand underneath his shirt again and find inch after inch of soft, hairless flesh until I find a nipple and squeeze. 

He breaks our kiss by sucking air into his mouth, body arching instinctively.

“So you like that.” I give his nipple another twist. God, it’s a tiny thing, fits perfectly between my thumb and forefinger.

He squeezes his eyes shut and bites his lower lip. I’m tempted to tell him not to, tempted to say, That’s mine. As if in a dream, he mumbles, “Why are you doing this?”

I lift an eyebrow. “I’m not sure I understand the question.” I look down, and damn, he’s so long and lean. Naked, he’ll be miles of toned white. Distracted, I nudge his thighs open a bit with my knees and basically forgot he asked a question until he continues.

“Why me?” His thick eyebrows draw together in the middle.

I grin. “Have you seen you?”

This only serves to confuse the kid further. Jesus, has nobody ever told him what he looks like? Does he have any clue?

I lean up long enough to remove my suit coat and toss it to the ground (Armani who?) before going to work on the buttons of my shirt. “You’re a six-foot-tall fairy tale nymph who moves like a ballerina and has a voice like warm caramel, and I want to hear what sounds you make when I fuck you, okay?”

He sighs out what I think is a mixture of three different cuss words. Yeah, his brain is offline. This kid. Timothee.

My discarded shirt joins the pile of expensive fabric on the floor before I unbutton his jeans. I pause and look up at him. His eyes study the muscles of my chest, the bit of curling hair there. He blushes and looks away when he notices me watching. 

I tap his hip, and he must get the hint because he kicks off his shoes. The sound echoes through the near-silent room like a banshee's scream. Then, he lifts his hips. I pull down the jeans but leave on the black boxer briefs. No need to rush. Just working up an appetite. 

I do lean back to admire his slim, white thighs. He might as well be a vampire; has the kid ever seen sun? I dive and rub my mouth and face across that pale skin, and Timothee winces. Too bad. He’s going to be absolutely painted in razor burn by morning.

When I mouth at his crotch, I’m not surprised to find he’s hard. I have that effect on humans. He gasps and sits up while I nose at his shaft. Nearby, the femoral artery sings. I palm him and lean up to kiss him. I can’t seem to get enough of his fucking mouth, especially now that he’s panting against my lips.

I smell them before he hears them—it’s his friend the blonde and someone else, rushing up the hall and toward his door. Their initial knock is frantic and startles Timothee right out of the haze he’s been riding, especially when they shout his name. His green eyes pop open, dart to me and then to the door.

Chapter Text

I lean back and give him space to make this decision. Sure, I could easily overpower him, just pin him to the bed with my hand over his mouth until his friends leave. But then, they might call the police, and I do not need that shit. Remember: vampires aren’t supposed to stalk anymore. (Whatever.)

More than that, though, I’m curious. I have a theory that, at this point, he wouldn’t leave his apartment even if it were haunted by all the ghosts of Gettysburg.

He puts a hand on my bare shoulder and slides out from under me. “I’m coming!” He hops as he removes his socks, and something in that adorable gesture makes my dead heart clench. Jesus, this kid … What a fucking marvel.

The front door only opens as much as the chain, so there’s no chance I’ll be seen hovering in his bedroom.

“Timmy, are you all right?” The girl: her panic is lovely, but she’s nothing compared to the spicy-smoke scent of my sweet treat.

“Yeah, look, I’m fine.”

“You’re not fine, dude,” the guy says—the same guy from the phone. “A vampire is stalking you. We need to call the police.”

“No, seriously, it’s okay.”

Get them out of here.

The guy outside keeps talking. “Vampires are no joke, Timmy. They don’t all adhere to the law. They stalk people and kill them.”

Timothee—Timmy, I guess—doesn’t say anything.

I silently stand just in case he gives me up—just in case I need to run. I could easily escape all three of them obviously, but that could possibly end in me becoming public enemy number one, hiding in a coffin for fifty years. I don’t have that kind of time, not when Timmy is so young and supple right now. He needs to get rid of them, because if I don’t taste him, have him, tonight, it will be another night and then I’ll be hungrier and angrier. Just … it’s in his best interest to get rid of them, okay?

He shifts from one foot to the other, apparently mindless that he’s half-hard in nothing but boxer briefs and a tee. “I actually have someone over,” he whispers. “I’m safe with him. Promise.” 

I really don’t deserve this level of confidence, but I was serious when I said I wouldn’t kill him. Fuck no. The Earth would be a much darker place without this Timmy guy in it. 

Listen to me, waxing poetic. I’ve got it bad.

There are a few more words of mumbled conversation. Timmy gestures with his hands in my direction even though they can’t see me. He does a lot of nodding. Yeah, sure, we’ll talk to the police in the morning. Yeah, sure. 

He doesn’t notice me creeping up to the side, opposite the barely opened front door.

I start hearing “goodbyes” and talk of brunch and a warning from the blonde about being careful. Finally, he closes the door and sighs.

He definitely doesn’t notice I’m right here—not until I press my front against his back and my clothed cock against his ass. He gasps, startles (I love scaring this kid; smells delicious), and I stick my hand down the front of his boxers and rub. His moan is like an electric current through my bones. He leans his head back on my shoulder, so I reach under his shirt again and play with his nipples.

“Fuck.” He sighs … and lurches when I give his left nipple a particularly hard tug.

Hands still wrapped around him like rope, I maneuver him back to the bed but tear his shirt off before giving him a shove. He lands on hands and knees, and if that isn’t the goddamn most beautiful thing this vampire has ever seen.

“Don’t move,” I command.

He looks over his shoulder and watches me fully undress. His eyes widen at the size of my dick—and rightly so. It’s going to take ages to prepare his delicate body for me. Then, he starts chewing his lips again, and I’ve had enough.

With vampire speed, I move and take hold of his face. “Your mouth is mine. Understand?”

He tilts his head to the side and sucks my thumb into his mouth. Fucking hell, I almost fall over. Someone’s come out to play …

He’s definitely not scared of me anymore. The lovely scent of his fear has been replaced with arousal, lust. It’s like living in a mug of warm apple cider.

With Timmy still on all fours, I kneel on the bed behind him and trace my fingers up the sides of his pale thighs. He shudders. I kiss his lower back, mid-back, upper back. I nuzzle my nose in his thick curls before licking behind his ear. Meanwhile, he rocks back against me, rubbing his ass on my dick. The kid is radiating want, and I haven’t been this turned on in … nah, never.

“You’re fucking perfect, you know that?” I nudge his face to the side and suck his neck.

“Please,” he mutters. I’m not sure what he’s asking for, but I would give him anything.

I finally pull off his boxer briefs, revealing a tight ass. I’ve felt his cock, but now, I want to see it. I flip him over. He lands with a bounce on his back, the centerpiece being that beautiful erection. I stroke him from base to tip. When I dip down to lick a drip of pre-come, he says, “Fuck, I … shit. You … I don’t even know your name.”

“Armand.” I lick some more, and he makes a sound like he’s been punched. “But people call me Armie.”

“And you’re a vampire."

"Yes."

"And you’re not going to kill me.”

"No. Lube?”

Watching me, he gestures to the little table by his bed. I open the drawer and pull out a half-full container. I coat my fingers and dribble a little on his cock. Will surely come in handy later. I recline next to him on the bed, leaned up on one elbow so I won’t miss a thing—not a shiver, not a muscle quiver, not the spread of goosebumps across his hairless chest or the dance of his delicate wrists as his fingers flex.

“Lift your knee for me.”

He does.

My fingers caress and search until they find his hole. He gasps when I press inside, head pushing into the pillow and exposing that long throat, lightly freckled. I see his pulse beat, and the fangs come out. I won’t be able to control them anymore, not with this feast before me. Best be careful around his dick, although I wouldn’t mind a bloody nibble of his lips.

Despite the bit of monster in me, I kiss him gently without breaking skin as I work him open. Disappointingly, he’s not overly vocal. His noises are mostly incoherent pleas interspersed with gasps and shuddering breaths. I want more. His abs contract and release on a moan when I eventually add a third finger.

That’s it, baby, let me hear you.

I tease his prostate until his hips dance. He fucks himself on my fingers and holds my face in his hands. Foreheads pressed together, I get high on his panting breaths.

“Hey.” I nudge his cheek with my nose. “Mind if I join you?”

He smiles softly. “Condoms.” He waves again to the tiny table.

“Don’t need them.” I crawl between his legs and spread his thighs wide. “Dead. Remember?”

“Oh.” He bites his bottom lip again but stops when he catches me watching.

I push into him, gently at first, but as soon as I feel that tight heat on my dick, it’s hard to remember the word “gentle” at all.

For having such a small frame, the kid takes me all and wraps his legs around me as though asking for more. I pull back and thrust once, and I’m not sure who moans this time—me or Timmy. Doesn’t matter anymore. We’re one unit of pleasure as I fuck into him and he claws at me. Eyes shut, he blindly searches for my mouth, which I give him. He chews at my lips the same way he chews at his own.

Only one way to make this better.

Against his mouth, I say, “This might hurt a little.”

He has enough time to say, “Wha—” before I bite down on the side of his throat.

Timmy sobs once, shoving at me the way he did when I first kissed him in the foyer. He’s trying to escape the pain, but he couldn’t get away from me if he tried. I bite down harder, and he whimpers something followed by my name. Begging.

God, this is good.

I pick up he pace of my hips to distract him, and his fingers shove and clasp in a confused rhythm against my flesh. He wants and needs but, on the survival spectrum, he also knows he’s in bed with a monster and needs to get away. Not that I’d let him.

In my mouth, his blood is heaven. If I believed in heaven. This fucking kid is heaven—the way his body welcomes mine, the way he feels in my arms. The way he has settled down to let me drink with his hands in my hair as my name now becomes a mantra, repeated with every thrust until I’ve drank my fill and Timmy comes untouched between us with a soft cry.

I pull my teeth from his throat and allow his clenching muscles to milk the orgasm out of me. No shit, I practically black out when I come. My vision goes blurry, and my whole body shakes. I melt, crush him beneath me. My body rises and falls to the rhythm of his breaths.

“Ow.” His voice cracks. “And yay.”

I chuckle into his hair.

“Jesus,” he says. “That was the hottest thing that’s ever happened to me.” 

I grin and kiss the side of his head. “Don’t move.”

“Mmph.”

I wet a towel in the bathroom. When I come back, Timmy is already on his stomach, arms buried beneath the pillow, half asleep. I admire his pristine pale ass up in the air before asking him to spread his legs. He's so good at taking orders. I clean him up and then roll him back over so I can lick at the wound on his throat. It’s already stopped bleeding.

I wonder if he’ll hide the bite mark from his friends … or tell them everything. I wonder if he wants one of his clove cigarettes. I would love to watch him smoke, licking those plump lips after he hits the filter—but he’s practically comatose from sex and loss of blood.

I could get dressed and go home. I could walk the streets of New York, find a party. I could drink blood until I’m drunk on it. Instead, I slide into bed at Timmy’s side. He’s half-snoozing when I drag his body toward mine and pull the blankets up around us. I look down at his sleepy face and rub my thumb over his chin. Already, the skin around his mouth is red. He looks good in my razor burn.

He nuzzles his face against my chest and hums. “You’re not cold anymore.”

That’s because your blood courses through my veins.

Sleepily, he rubs his eyes and looks up at me. He grins. “So what are you doing next Halloween?”

Chapter Text

One month later …

The sound of his keys in the door is practically familiar, even though I’ve only heard it once before. On Halloween. That entire night is etched on my brain—or more like tattooed. I’m frankly surprised I’ve stayed away this long. Now, just past Thanksgiving, I come bearing a gift because I’m fucking sick of watching the kid shiver.

And I have been watching.

I tried to stay away at first. When we woke, sprawled together the morning of November 1, Timmy seemed genuinely surprised I was still there, as though maybe I’d been a phantom or a strange dream. I hadn’t given him much time to consider. I’d sucked his cock and left, the kid basically silent the whole time, perhaps coming to the realization that not only had a complete stranger broken into his house but that stranger had also fucked him and drank his blood. Whoops.

I honestly hadn’t planned on ever seeing him again …

Well, maybe, as he suggested, next Halloween.

Vampires don’t see humans. We don’t date them, don’t marry them. We fuck them, feed, and leave. It's the normal order of things—the unspoken, accepted separation between human and immortal.

And I’d done just fine not seeing Timmy. Seriously. For about five days.

I mean, it was a relief he never did go to the cops as his friends suggested. I’m pretty sure he never told them about me, and I’m not sure how he made them suddenly forget he had a possible vampire stalker, but no authorities ever knocked on my door.

Also, I don’t stalk him constantly. I merely check in. I sometimes watch from the apartment building across the street. Once, he jerked off with the lights on; I wondered if it was for me. (I certainly enjoyed the show.) Other times, I just tail him around New York, which is how I knew he needed my gift, which currently sits in a big, flat box on his tiny kitchen table, wrapped in a black bow.

Before the door swings open, I hide against the wall like I did last time so he won’t know I’m there—not yet. I even go so far as to disappear. Wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise.

The door opens and shuts, locks. He drops something heavy, probably the messenger bag he’s always carrying around NYU’s campus. He makes a small shivery noise and sighs over the sound of his boots being kicked off, skidding with melting late-November snow across the wood floors.

When Timmy walks past my hiding spot, he’s pushing windblown hair out of his face. His cheeks and nose are adorably red. He drags his alarmingly shitty coat from his shoulders. The damn thing couldn’t keep a heater warm, and this poor kid is nothing but skin and bones.

Soft, responsive, decadently sweet skin and bones … but still.

I didn’t leave the window open like last time because it’s already pretty damn cold in here, so he doesn’t halt and stare until he sees the Armani box on his kitchen table. The room swells with the pleasant aroma of fear and lust, both battling for dominance as he reaches out a pale fingertip and touches the box’s sharp edge. He pokes it like it might bite.

He whispers my name as a question right before I wrap both my arms around his upper chest and squeeze.

He startles. “Fuck!”

I chuckle and nose up the side of his neck before pressing open-mouthed kisses behind his ear. “I love scaring you. Smells delicious.” 

He shivers. “You’re col-l-ld.”

Well, that’s easily rectified.

I hold him tighter and bite into the side of his neck. He tenses in my arms. His breath picks up as I drink—heart rate, too. He whimpers, a quiet sob, but doesn’t fight me. He lets me feed. I take just enough to warm my skin but not enough to make him woozy.

When I pull my fangs out, he sort of slumps against me, but it’s not from blood loss. The kid isn’t anemic or anything. Shit, no. He’s an expensive cut of meat—the most expensive cut of meat. If there were such a thing as a magical vampire kingdom, Timmy would be a fucking delicacy, reserved for royalty. He’s healthy; he’s fine. I like to think (hope) maybe he slumps against me because he’s happy I’m there?

“Got you something,” I say into his hair and take a big whiff of his smoky, clove cigarette and sandalwood scent.

“Hmm?”

I drop my hands but not before running my palms down the sides of his arms, clad in a soft, worn sweater striped in white and gray. “Come here.” I nod to the table, and he takes a few shuffling steps closer. His green eyes flit from me to the box and back again. “Aren’t you going to open it?”

He touches his neck and runs fingertips over my bite mark. It’s not bleeding; our marks never bleed much. It probably doesn’t even hurt. “I …” His eyebrows wrinkle and practically merge in the middle. “What are you doing here?”

I tap one knuckle on the box. “You need this.”

“You left,” he says. “You just … left.”

I shrug. “It’s what vampires do.”

“It was fucking rude.” His tone isn’t angry; more hurt, I guess.

He’s close enough to touch, so I hold his chin in my hand and rub my thumb across his mouth. “Your lips are even pinker when they’re chapped.”

He turns his head away. “You can’t just bail and then show up here.”

I roll my eyes because, really? This fucking kid. “I’m over two-hundred, Timmy. I can do whatever I want. Now, are you going to open your present?”

He chews his bottom lip—and stops abruptly when he catches my glare. As previously discussed, his pretty mouth is mine. “You can’t just buy me shit, Armie.”

“Sure, I can. I have oodles of cash and no one to spend it on. Come here.” I pull him close with an arm around his shoulders and pretend to not see the sad look on his face directed, I assume, at the realization that I have literally no one to spoil except a hot piece I fucked once. I drag him in front of me and wrap my arms around his waist. I have to stoop to rest my chin on his shoulder. “Go ahead, open it.”

He tries to hide a little smile by ducking his head, but I see it anyway.

The bow unties with a silky sigh before he picks up the lid and stares. His jaw drops.

“I think he likes it,” I say.

“No way. I can’t …” Even as he talks, he reaches a hand out to touch the velvet accents on his brand new double-breasted warm-as-fuck Armani pea coat.

“Your other coat is shit. I see you shivering in the damn thing every day. You need this, and it’ll look amazing on you.” I pull the beautiful piece of craftsmanship from the box and start unbuttoning before noticing there’s a new scent in the room. Pretty sure this one is anger.

“Every. Day?”

I wince. Fuck.

“You watch me every day?”

I really thought this was going to be easier. I mean, granted, I knew Timmy was lippy, but I didn’t expect a barrage of verbal landmines.

“Armie!”

I rest the coat across its box because something tells me this conversation ain’t over. “I’m a vampire; you’re my prey.”

His shoulders inch up toward his ears.

“No, that’s not … Shit.” I hold my hands out in front of me, wondering why the hell I’m explaining myself to this kid—which is when I realize that I think I might actually like this kid. He’s not just a hot meal; he’s more. Duh, Armie, you bought him a two thousand dollar coat, and you’re just recognizing this now? “Look, I tried to stay away, but I couldn’t, all right?” I run a hand through my hair, and my own knee-length Armani jacket flutters around me like flustered wings. “I needed to see you, make sure you were safe, and then, you had that shitty jacket, and …”

He has one eyebrow quirked, and his lips are parted on words that don’t come out.

“What?” I snap. 

“You … missed me?” 

“Oh, my God, why am I putting up with this?” I say it more to myself than to him.

Then, his hand is on my elbow. He squeezes. “Give me the coat.”

I sigh and pick it up from the table. He spins away from me, and I slide it up both his arms before he does a little shoulder dance to get the thing on properly. His back still to me, he runs his hands down the fabric and buttons it before turning back around. Of course, the navy blue velvet collar is perfect against his skin. Of course, he looks like a goddamn European prince. I have to lock my knees to keep from sinking to the floor at his feet in worship. 

“It’s perfect,” he says.

I adjust the collar a touch. “Of course it is. I bought it.”

He shakes his head but doesn’t hide his smirk. “This is the point when I’d ask if you wanted to get a bite to eat, but you already did.”

This is the point when I’d usually fuck my prey raw before feeding, round two, which I’m pretty sure had been my intention when I’d first snuck in here—but I can’t remember now. Obviously, I still want him. I want his pale skin, sensitive nipples, and open-mouthed gasps. Obviously. But what is this lack of clarity? Is it his blood pulsing through my veins, making me all fuzzy and emotional? 

He steps forward and rests both his hands on my chest. He rubs his forehead against my chin. “What are we doing?”

I cup his upper back. “Something we’re not supposed to.” Timmy knows it as well as me: humans and vampires are not supposed to date. Historically, it never ends well for the human. Maybe the vampire gets too hungry one night. Maybe the vampire’s friend gets a little rough. Maybe there’s a vampire turf war, and the human— 

I can’t even think about something bad happening to this kid. Fuck, I also can’t think about not walking ten feet behind him every day on his way to college. I need to see him every day. This isn’t stalking anymore; it’s obsession, which should scare me but oddly doesn’t. It will scare him, so I don’t mention it. I just kiss his forehead until he hums and think to myself, I’m totally fucked.

Chapter Text

The space heater hums in the corner, but it’s not enough noise to cover the sound of Timmy’s gasping breaths. He let me tie him to the bed. Just his arms, stretched above him, bony wrists embraced by the expensive silk of my tie and restrained to the bedframe below his mattress because of course the kid doesn’t have a headboard like a self-respecting adult.

I should buy him a headboard …

Shit, the coat and now this? Jesus, what’s next, Armie: gonna buy him an island? 

I would, too. God knows he deserves it, because the kid let a vampire tie him to the bed. Although I pretend there’s a shit ton of trust in that decision, I realize Timmy allowing me to tie him to the bed is probably just part of his intelligence. He knows he couldn’t get away from me, bound or not … so why shouldn’t he give in to his desire to be dominated, hmm? 

Don’t think he planned on the edging, though. I've been teasing him for a good hour. 

“Please,” he whimpers.

I tongue my fangs and grin. “Hmm?” I run my palms up his thighs and squeeze his hips but refrain from touching his dripping cock. I push my thumb right against one of the bite marks I left on his lower abdomen. He winces, arches, and sighs at the dull pain. Muscles struggling under that silky, pale skin … God. I could take a picture, but I don't need to. If I live another five million years, I’ll never forget this moment.

The kid is covered in bite marks honestly. There’s one by his right nipple. (He begged me to stop … and keep going … and stop … and oh, right there …) There’s one at the base of his throat because that’s where he smells sweetest. There’s the one near his belly button and one on his inner thigh. He kicked at me when I drank from there until I cupped his ass and pinned his body down with my shoulders.

I love when he fights.

Right now, I’m pretty sure he’s barely coherent. Eyes squeezed shut, his chest gleams with sweat. 

I could turn the space heater off. (Timmy’s apartment is so fucking freezing, and I’m dead, so it keeps him from shivering when I haven’t fed.) But, nah, leave the space heater on. More sweat. I want Timmy’s dark curls glued to his forehead by the time we’re finished. I want his body sliding over mine once I untie him.

Eventually.

Not yet, though. Instead, I lick up the center of his chest and collect his sweat on my tongue. 

My name comes out like a strangled moan. 

I huff a chuckle across his nipple, and he tries to twist away from me, but nope, not today, my beautiful boy. I suck his nipple into my mouth, and he thrashes. His body is a live wire of over-sensitivity. Pretty sure I could just touch his cock right now and he’d come.

“That’s it. Just fucking kill me,” he huffs. His voice, usually warm caramel, cracks and strains like a dead tree in winter wind.

I laugh and kiss his throat. “I told you I’d never do that." 

“What do you call this?” His muscles strain as he tugs at his bounds.

I pause. “Fun?”

He again tries kicking at me with his long legs, but I straddle his upper thighs—which is when I realize I’m still pretty much fully clothed, except for my tie. I’ve been too distracted by the kid to notice.

I’m also incredibly hard. Not quite as hard as Timmy, whose dick stands up like a flagpole in the center of his bed, but I’m close. I crawl off of him, and he whimpers then shouts, “Where the hell are you going?”

Over the past week of our … whatever this is … Timmy has proven again and again that he’s not only lippy but a brave little motherfucker. I might be an immortal beast—and maybe he was scared of me at first—but now, he’s more than comfortable calling me out on my bullshit.

And fucking me blind.

Still not sure how he managed to sneak up on me that one day. Maybe it was the frigid New York air. (Scent doesn’t travel as well when your nose is frozen.) Maybe I was momentarily distracted by the twinkling Christmas lights. Either way, one second, I was following Timmy in his Armani coat; the next, he was gone. Poof. Disappeared. I took hurried steps forward until skinny, surprisingly strong arms pulled me into an alley. All I remember before a face-melting wall bang was Timmy saying, “I love when you follow me." Then, my dick was in his hot ass, and whelp … Just another day with my boyfriend.

Boyfriend?

Jesus, where’d that come from? Timmy’s not my … We aren’t even supposed to … Humans and vampires …

“Armie?” Now, his voice is small, shy.

I blink down at him, a picture of pleasure and pain that I’ve spent the past hour painting.

His brow creases. “Did I say something …?” And there it is: the self-doubt he so grandly illustrated during our first sexual encounter in which he thoroughly did not understand why I would want him. How could I not want him? How could anyone? This juxtaposition of attitude and insecurity tugs at something deep inside of me—a need to shelter and protect I haven’t felt in a century.

To prove he did absolutely nothing wrong, I remove my clothes in a mad rush and crawl back on the bed. I loom over him and use the side of my hand to push sweaty curls from his forehead and just … look. 

The side of his mouth turns up, and his eyes lighten. “Hi,” he whispers.

I reach above his head and give the knots on my tie a tug. It’s probably all stretched out now, destroyed. Worth it.

His wrists now free, I pick each one up in turn, rubbing circulation back, and press kisses against his pulse points.

“What are you doing?” he asks quietly, as though hypnotized by my touch.

“I want to feel your hands on me.”

He’s already had my fingers inside him—for a while now—so when I tuck his knees over my shoulders and press into him, he’s ready. His breath just barely quivers, and his fingers grip my arms. I go for his mouth and suck at bottom lip, then top, as I thrust, but Timmy is too out of it to kiss back. His mouth droops open, slack, as I continue sucking lips the color of holly berries. Fuck, he feels hot inside—hot and tight.

I thrust harder because I want to hear him. I’m not disappointed, as his throat evicts cut off whimpers and moans in direct response to our harried fucking. I lick a trail up the side of his throat and bite down just below his ear. This is when his blood is tastiest: right before he comes.

And he does come, finally. Poor thing. He sobs out his pleasure as warm seed spurts against my abdomen. He clings to me and quivers as I remove my fangs from his skin but continue thrusting. Oh, sweetie, I’m not done torturing you—not yet. This is too good.

One of his hands is like a claw now in the back of my hair. He pulls so hard it hurts, which only serves to spur me on. Again, his mouth is wide open. He heaves boiling breaths against my face.

“You want me to come?” I suck his earlobe into my mouth.

“Please, yes, please, please …”

I grin because I love when he begs.

Two thrusts later, and I’m on fucking Mars. See ya. Peace out. I think I must make a really loud noise, because when I again become aware of my surroundings, Timmy’s hand is over my mouth, and his face is all wrinkled up in giggles. It’s the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen and now—now—I want to take a picture. But I can’t feel my legs so …

“Is all sex with vampires this good?”

“Fuck no. I'm special.” I pull out and don’t even bother cleaning either of us up. I just slump down on top of him.

“Oof!”

“I don’t care if I’m crushing you. I can’t move.” I run my tongue over my teeth and find what I was looking for: remnants of his blood. It’s way better than a cigarette. It’s way better than … fuck, everything.

The kid takes a big breath and sighs.

“Don’t,” I say.

“Huh?”

“Talking right now should be an impossibility.”

He grumbles.

“What is it?”

His fingers dance up and down the back of my arm. “Saoirse noticed the bite marks.”

“Who the fuck is … Did you just make up a word?”

“No. Saoirse is Irish. She’s my best friend.”

He’s talking about the blonde. Since I now spend all my days following my tasty treat around town, I know he hangs with her often. On NYU’s campus, they’re practically connected at the hip. I think she even saw me once when I wasn’t being careful. 

I nuzzle against his neck in an effort to get him to shut up. “So what’d you tell her?”

“That I’m dating a vampire.” 

Fuck. “And how’d she take it?”

“Not well, obviously.” 

“Yeah, what did she say? That I’m going to kill you?”

He tugs on my shoulders and wedges himself further beneath me like I’m a big, undead blanket—although I am really warm right now, filled to the brim with his blood. “That I shouldn’t trust you. Although she really likes the new coat.”

“I’m not going to hurt you,” I mutter. 

He shifts so when I open my eyes, he’s right there—with an eyebrow quirked.

“Okay,” I amend. “I’m not going to hurt you in ways you don’t want.”

“Maybe you should meet her.”

“Maybe we should talk about this when all your blood isn’t still raging in my dick.” I surge forward and kiss him. He moans immediately, and we’re a mish-mash of tongues and teeth, although I have put my fangs away. I nicked his lip a couple days ago, and Timmy didn’t like it.

Meet his friends? Shit, that’s like a human at Thanksgiving meeting the brothers and sisters of the turkey they’re about to eat.

Eh, but that’s not really true, is it? Timmy is a heck of a lot more than a hot meal to me now. This kid is my whole stupid life.

Chapter Text

In this crowded, over-loud dive bar in the East Village, Timmy’s anxiety is shaking the whole goddamn table. I put my hand on top of his knee and press down to stop its trembling.

“Cut it out,” I hiss. 

He uses both hands to push curls out of his face. They’re a tangle of silky knots due not only to our earlier sex session but also to a chilly winter breeze. About an hour ago back at his place, he got down on his knees for me and … well, if I wasn’t already dead, I would be now. Jesus, the kid knows how to suck cock, and I practically pulled his hair out at the roots. I’m not sure if the whole ambitious performance was for me or for him.

Based on his current nerves, I’m thinking for him. He needed something to take his mind off this shit.

I’m meeting his friend tonight, some perky Irish person. The blonde. God, what the hell have I become? I’m in fucking jeans because Timmy said the usual Armani was a bit much, although he of course wore his new coat here. He looks stunning in a slightly too big white sweater and skinny jeans. The disaster of his hair honestly adds to his appeal, as does the paleness of his skin and the way his lips are still chapped from the cold and, frankly, my cock.

Although we sit at a candlelit table in the corner, a bunch of college kids lean on the bar. It’s Saturday night, so they’re laughing and happy, with their hipster cocktails and expensive Christmas ales. I smell alcohol mixed with all their blood. Opening a vein right now would probably get me drunk.

“There she is.” And he’s on his feet, again finger-brushing his hair and looking legitimately annoyed when it falls back onto his forehead.

The girl is pretty in an intriguing and overly young sort of way. She could be anywhere from fifteen to thirty in her knee-length sweater dress over thick stockings and leather boots. She’s stylish but simple, barely wearing any makeup—and, if she is, her makeup is pristine, adding to her otherworldly, elfish appearance. In coloring, she’s the opposite of Timmy, all light hair and eyes. In build, they’re the same: tall but delicate, their petite frames adding to overall sensuality.

And she’s glaring at me.

Even as Timmy kisses her cheek, she’s glaring at me. He hurries to pull the chair out for her, already gesturing to the bartender, who must know Timmy and this chick, because the bartender just nods and starts making a drink with champagne.

She sits across from me and folds her hands as Timmy slides in at my side, closer than strictly necessary in public, but I love his warmth so it don’t bother me none.

“I’ve seen you before,” she says. Timmy calls her “Sersh,” but I don’t want to call her anything. “I saw you on campus. As a vampire, you know stalking is illegal.”

I sigh. “Well, it’s not stalking if he gets off on it.”

Timmy clears his throat. It’s more a choking sound. “He’s not stalking, Sersh. Armie just likes to keep an eye on me is all.”

The side of her mouth tilts up in a sneer. “What the hell kind of name is Armie for a vampire anyway?”

“His name is Armand,” Timmy says as the bartender puts a fizzy drink in front of the blonde—whose hatred of me is literally radiating off her with every beat of her pulse. “People just call him Armie.”

“People?” She rolls her eyes. “You mean his victims?”

Timmy hasn’t touched his glass of wine. Now, he moves it out of the way to lean closer to her. “I told you I’m not a victim! I—”

“He likes when I fuck him.”

Timmy’s face is … Okay, I would laugh if he didn’t look so furious, but he’s got this adorable wrinkle that runs, like, all the way across his forehead somehow, and his mouth looks like a half-open clam shell. Wouldn’t mind diving for pearls.

Sersh-whatever cusses. “Timothee Hal Chalamet, I will call your mother!”

“What …” And his hands are back in his hair. “Oh, my God.”

“You’ve got a literal bite mark on your neck, and don’t think growing your hair out is gonna hide that from me. And this …” She waves her hand in my face. “Creature … is a total douchebag!”

Timmy shakes his head as some punk rock version of "Jingle Bells" rages through the speakers. “He’s acting like a jerk just to piss you off.” He turns to me. “Aren’t you?”

The kid really is smart. He sees right through my ancient ass, that’s for sure—but I hate answering for myself like this, defending myself, to who? A pair of fucking kids?

I do not do this, ever. I do not date. I do not form human connections. Timmy has made me a tame beast, and I just can’t …

I shove away from the table and stand. I don’t even give either of them a parting remark. I just walk for the door. I have to shove a semi-dancing drunk dude with an atrocious beard out of my way, but I finally make it outside into the frigid cold of New York December. Even though temperatures don’t affect me, I pull my coat tighter around myself, in need of a hug.

That’s right, I’m being hugged by fabric, okay? I need to be comforted, damn it, because every inch of me wants to turn around and walk back into that dive bar. Every inch of me wants to get down on my knees and apologize to Timmy for being such an asshole, but nope. I don’t grovel. Fuck this. Fuck everything.

Then, I hear his voice, shouting at me. The sound of his boots on crunching snow.

“Hey!” He grabs my arm and spins me around before shoving me in the chest—hard. “What the fuck?” He keeps shoving until he’s backed me into an alley with a modicum of privacy from the few people on the sidewalk still braving the weather.

I loom over him because I can. “I’m not doing this with you.”

“Doing what? Having a conversation?”

“No. This.” I wave my hand back and forth between us.

His breath shoots out in little, white puffs. “Are you breaking up with me?”

“We’re not …” I laugh. “Fuck, Timmy, we’re not in a relationship. You’re just a goddamn meal!”

He sucks in a breath of air, and Jesus, the look on his face …

The look on his sweet, beautiful face would shatter a weaker man. Even I have to look away, up toward a street lamp, where snow flurries fall like pieces of ash. Which is when I smell his rage, the sweetness of his blood twisted into something like burning wood, singed hair.

He shoves me some more—and some more until we’re deep in this stupid, stinking shadowy alley, away from the decorative twinkle lights and shining window displays on the main drag. I don’t even hear voices anymore or music from nearby bars. It’s just Timmy trying to hurt me because I’ve hurt him.

Until I notice … we are definitely not alone.

Shit. Fuck. Damn it, Armie. This is exactly what you were worried about.

A young female vampire steps out of the dark—gaunt, underfed, in a worn leather jacket that looks stolen from someone much bigger. Probably her last meal. Two more vamps join her, young dudes that look like they stepped out of an eighties music video. Timmy is too busy being angry with me to notice them. Plus, they’re silent in the snow, almost as if they float.

“Lover’s tiff?” the girl says.

Timmy gasps and spins around. When he sees her fangs, he falls back against me. I wrap both my arms around him, and he grips my hands.

She grins, only further revealing the jagged points of her teeth. “Oh, he’s so cute. Mind if I have a taste?”

Her two cronies cage me in on either side. They don’t speak, emitting no more than quiet hisses like prowling cats.

“Armie,” Timmy whispers. His entire body shakes.

The girl tilts her head, long, filthy hair in her face. “His fear smells delicious. Come on, old man, just give us a nibble.”

Damn it, Armie, use your words. “I would get out of here if I were you.”

One of the boy vamps chortles to my right. The one on my left is still just hissing. He’s the one I’m most worried about. He smells oldest, looks strongest, even though I probably have at least a hundred and fifty years on each of them.

I smell salt. Timmy is crying, and that will not fucking do. Granted, the bitch is right. Timmy’s fear does smell delicious. It’s a vampire wet dream, and I loved every whiff when I first stalked him—before I knew his name or held his too-innocent heart in my hands. Now, the smell of his fear—his real fear—makes my stomach turn.

I tilt my head down, speak right in his ear. “Do you trust me?”

He nods.

“Then run.” I let go of him and give him a push back toward the street, toward safety, and get but a glimpse of his tall, thin form rushing at the light before I turn and attack.

When the girl lunges after him, I tear her throat out—which, granted, gives her buddies some pause. They recover quickly as dumb vampires do and try fighting me, but nobody told these damn newbies: don’t mess with this old man. I make quick work of the one dude, but the other guy—the one I knew would give me trouble—is more of a battle. He even gets in a couple good scrapes, which heal immediately, of course. Unlike him, I just fed from Timmy this morning.

The coup de grace is when I tear his head off with a twist like I’m opening a bottle. Easy peasy. I stand there amidst the carnage and wipe my face with the back of my arm, but there’s still immortal blood everywhere. What a mess. Good thing I left the Armani at home.

I hear the scuff of a shoe behind me and spin, arm raised, ready to destroy … but it’s Timmy. My Timmy. Green eyes wide and wet. Breathing hard. His heart thump-thump-thumps like it might explode. He takes in my blood-soaked state and doesn’t turn away screaming.

I try to be stern. “I thought I told you to run.”

He ignores me and pulls off his coat, folds it carefully over the least dirty edge of the nearest dumpster. He pulls off his white sweater next, leaving him in nothing but a thin gray t-shirt.

“You’re gonna freeze,” I mutter.

He sighs and starts wiping my shaking hands with his sweater. When did my hands start shaking? “You can’t walk home like this, Armie.”

Home.

He leans up on his tiptoes to clean what I assume is blood and torn skin from my face. His pink tongue pokes out as he works. I want to touch him but refuse to mar him with the mess I just made.

When he must think I’m passably clean, he tosses his blood-stained sweater in the dumpster and pulls his coat back on before grabbing my hand and tugging me after him.

***

I shower at Timmy’s place and put on a pair of his sweatpants that are six inches too short. I make a call to a “cleaner:” a buddy of mine who takes care of vampire dead bodies and mops up crime scenes. It’s good to have friends in low places.

Timmy is in bed, above the covers and fully clothed, folded into a tiny ball. When I lay down next to him, I notice the tension in his shoulders, pulled up around his ears. His long-fingered hands are curled into fists, and his eyes are squeezed shut.

I reach out cautiously so not to startle him and wrap my fingers around his. He doesn’t jump when I touch him—just relaxes a little, unwinds a bit from his tiny place of panic. I inch closer until I’m able to wrap my arm around his mid-back. I kiss his forehead once, twice, three times.

“Weren’t we breaking up or something?” he says.

I can’t believe I have the energy to chuckle. This fucking kid. I bury a hand in his hair and press my nose right against his scalp, breathe deep. He’s Timmy again, not filled with anger or fear. Both those scents still linger, but they dwindle now, washed away by cinnamon and sugar and that familiar lavender laundry smell.

“Have you killed a lot of people?” he mumbles.

“Those weren’t people.”

“No,” he agrees. I hear him swallow. He seems to be having trouble. “Why were you so awful tonight?”

I press my lips together and try to keep the words inside, but nope, nope, here they come … “Because I was trying to push you away.”

“Why?” He shivers.

This is why, kid. Because I’m fucking dead, all right? And even though I don’t want to, I bet I’m going to hurt you—hurt you bad. “I don’t know,” I reply.

“You’re cold,” he says, and if that comment isn’t spot on, I don’t know what is.

I get up and turn on the space heater, but it’s not enough. He asks me to feed. I don’t know what I did to deserve this … this fucking miracle of a man. Wrapped in my arms, he tilts his head back and lets me dig my fangs into the soft flesh of his neck. I drink enough to warm my bones.

When I’m finished, he nuzzles closer and closer. He’s always cuddly after I feed. I think he might be dozing, but then, he speaks: “Piano.”

“Tuba.”

“Huh?”

“What?”

“I’m in school for piano,” he says.

I rub my thumb over his spine. “What the fuck are you going to do with that?”

He smiles. “No idea.”

“What’s Sharon going to do?”

“Who?”

“Your mean friend.”

He snorts. “Jesus, Armie, her name is Saoirse. And she’s in opera.”

“People still do opera?”

He rubs his face against my chest. “Yes, you moron. What did you want to be … before you got dead?”

Before I “got dead,” I was French royalty—which is the first time I wonder over Timmy’s French heritage. Timothee. Did I recognize our similarity from the first moment we locked eyes at that coffee shop? I could speak French to him right now if I wanted, and I bet he’d understand. He always seems to understand.

“I wanted to be rich,” I respond. “And I am.”

“That’s it?”

I draw him closer to me so our legs tangle together and his bare fingers tickle my naked chest. “Oh, I wanted to be happy, I guess.”

“Are you?” he asks.

He starts snoring before I answer, blissed out on loss of blood and an adrenaline crash. I think about the dead bodies in that alley in East Village—young vampires I killed to protect this kid I barely know … and don’t know how to give up.

“Right now,” I whisper to no one. “Yes. Right now. I am happy.”

Chapter Text

He slumps when he plays piano. This does not surprise me. Timmy actually slumps a lot. Slouches. Sometimes, he looks so tall. He is tall, taller than most people, but you’d never know it with the way he slouches. Like he’s trying to protect his heart by making a cave of his body. Wish he knew how to protect it from me, but I’m afraid I own his heart—and this was all supposed to be so easy, so drama-free. A fast fuck on Halloween has become a physical and emotional obsession I can’t shake, not even after what happened the other day.

I killed three vampires to protect Timmy, and he washed the blood from my hands. It’s not necessarily illegal for a vampire to kill another vampire. Not yet, at least. We’re still too new, and the “rules” are just moral gray areas, but see, that’s the problem. Vampires aren’t moral beings. We’re killers, which is why I need to get away from this kid, this Timothee Hal Chalamet, before he: a) figures out how terrible I am or b) ends up dead.

Which would kill me, by the way. 

The thought of Timmy, eyes wide and unmoving, cold … nope. Nu-uh. Can’t even go there, thank you. I hate that I’m falling in love with him. I am such a goddamn loser.

The piano is in an old, forgotten building on New York University’s campus, which is a rarity here amidst Manhattan’s high rises. I’ve watched Timmy walk into this building a dozen times since October but never followed him inside until today. The other night, after he told me that he’s going to school to play piano, I may have poked fun but I did eventually ask him to play for me some time. He refused—said he’s not very good, wouldn’t want to be embarrassed.

Liar.

I stand in this stuffy, old room that smells of dusty books and Timmy’s clove cigarette (pretty sure he’s not supposed to have that in here), and I am entranced. The little fucker isn’t just good; he’s a marvel. Those delicate fingers I often suck into my mouth move like magic over the keys, filling the room with spiraling crescendos and quiet interludes.

I don’t recognize the song, and I know my shit, so I assume he wrote it. It sounds like Timmy: hyper, beautiful, sometimes angry, sometimes sad. Always enchanting.

Suddenly, the music stops. I watch him reach for a pencil and write something on sheet music. Then, he reaches for his clove and takes a puff. Lips in the shape of a little O, he exhales toward the ceiling and tap-taps the clove on the ashtray’s edge.

He caresses the keys. “I know you’re there.”

I chew the inside of my lip to keep from smiling. “How’d you know?”

He lifts one boney shoulder. “I just feel you sometimes.”

I sit next to him on the piano bench, and it creaks. “Since when?”

He shrugs again. “Since always.”

I dig one hand into the back of his hair—a move so common by now it’s practically an involuntary reflex— and kiss the side of his forehead. “What do you want for Christmas?”

He takes another hit of his clove before setting it down, blowing smoke away from me. “Are you kidding? You already bought me an Armani coat. It cost two grand. I looked it up.”

“So? I want to buy you more.”

His fingers dance over the opening notes of Chopin’s etude number three: “Tristesse,” or “Sadness.”

“You lied,” I say.

He stops playing. “Huh?” 

“You told me you weren’t very good at piano.” I put my hand on his knee and run it up his thigh. “You’re exceptional, and I would know. I saw Beethoven.”

I expect this will get a rise out of him—a laugh at least. Something. I get nothing, so I pull my hand away from his warm jean-clad leg and sigh.

“What’s the matter? Is this about that whole murder thing?”

Timmy groans and slams his forehead down against the keys. The discordant bang mixes in the air with his cigarette smoke. I almost want to ask if he just hurt himself, but I’m pretty sure he would smack the shit out of me if I did. He doesn’t smell like rage, per se, but some mixture of frustration, irritation, and a dash of I-hate-you-Armie.

He speaks with his head still smushed against the keys. “Murder thing?”

“So it is about the murder thing.”

The piano bench wiggles when he stands. It’s probably older than Timmy, which … wait.

“How old are you?” I ask.

He’s shoving sheet music in his bag but pauses to gawk at me. “How old are you?” 

“An exact number?” I eye the ceiling and do math. “Uh, two-hundred-and-seventy-six and four months.”

I hear something like a high-pitched choke, but it takes a second for me to realize it came from the kid. Then, he starts gasping for breath and grabbing at his throat.

Like a very butch mother hen, I’m on him in a second, ready to clear airways. “Timmy, what is it?”

“It’s just a …” Gasp. “Panic attack.” Gasp. He crumbles to the floor and wraps his arms around his knees before rocking forward and back, still struggling for breath, so I kneel. On the floor. In fucking Armani. (Goddamn it.) And tell him to breathe. He nods and keeps gasping.

I rest my palms on his bony kneecaps. “You washed blood off my hands the other night, and you’re having a panic attack because I’m old?”

He snort-laughs, thank God. “Armie, panic attacks don’t always have reasons.” 

“Do they happen often?” 

He shakes his head, most of his curls covering his face. “No. Not since high school. Just … sometimes.”

Annoyed that I can’t see him, I curl a finger under his chin and lift. He looks all right—eyes kind of unfocused, skin pale—but he’s breathing like a normal human being, at least. He blinks at me and sucks his bottom lip into his mouth, which he knows damn well makes me crazy because that mouth is mine, but I let it slide. He’s under duress, okay? 

He studies my face like I’ve just grown a third eye. 

“What?”

“Nothing,” he says quickly—too quickly—and stands up. He starts collecting his things again, this time closing the bag before reaching for his coat. The clove cigarette has long since burned away, leaving a cylinder of ash that jiggles and falls apart when Timmy nudges the piano. “I have class.” 

“I know.” 

I watch him button his coat and sling the messenger bag over his shoulder. “Don't follow me today," he says.

“What, you got a hot date?” 

He chuckles, but it’s not a happy noise. He walks past me but stops and spins back around. “I'm twenty-one," he says and puts hands in his pockets. Gloves. Why haven’t I bought him gloves? “Later.”

“Always.”

The heel of his boot squeaks when he spins and turns. My gaze gobbles up the tall, skinny length of him as he hop-walks away, slouching, of course.

Well, shit, now what am I going to do with my day?

***

I’m not an idiot; I do have a bad feeling about how our afternoon conversation went, but when I leap across the street onto his windowpane and find the window unlocked, I take that as a good sign. Knowing my impetuous ass, I would have just broken the damn thing if he’d tried to keep me out.

Jesus, I really need to learn boundaries.

It’s well past midnight, so I’m sure Timmy is asleep. He’s not much of a party kid night owl. He likes his rest. I’ve seen the proof of this considering he pretty much passes out directly following every time we fuck. It’s cute really.

I’m careful as I step inside and slide the window shut behind me. The space heater hums in its usual place in the corner, which makes it easier to move around without detection. I step to the bottom of Timmy’s bed … and chuckle.

Contrary to what I initially expected, Timmy is not a sexy sleeper. I mean, granted, I love that even in the chill of winter he only wears a t-shirt and boxer briefs to bed. Oh, and socks, of course, which is so nerdy. He sleeps with his mouth wide-open, body parts twisted at unnatural angles so much so that he almost looks like a broken toy. When I’m not with him, he takes up the entirety of his bed in this weird contorted pose. His t-shirt is rucked up, and the strip of pale tummy skin? Yes, that is sexy, but then, he starts snoring and mumbles to himself …

God, he’s so young, and he looks it right now, asleep and probably composing etudes and nocturnes in his dreams. He rolls over onto his side and shivers, piles of blankets around him but not on top of him like maybe he kicked them off during a particularly violent dream earlier. I think he says my name. Maybe he feels me watching the way he felt me this afternoon.

I take off my coat and kick off my shoes but leave the rest on as I gently push blankets out of the way and slide into bed behind him. I’ve said it before, but damn, I’d be happy to live in this crappy little apartment. Because everything smells like Timmy and everything feels like Timmy and Timmy is here.

I glue my front to his back and reach one arm underneath his shoulders so I can wrap my hand around the front of his neck. The first time we fucked, the sensation panicked him; now, he likes it. (“It makes me feel safe,” he said once, then paused and continued with, “That’s kind of fucked up, isn’t it?”) I slide my other hand down his abdomen and into the front of his shorts.

His breath changes. It speeds up. He leans his head back as his hips cant forward. Surprise! He’s already half-hard.

I squeeze his throat tighter until he tenses, fully awake. I wrap my fingers around his dick, and the noise he makes would make a nun go deaf.

“Fu …” He breathes out a couple additional letters but nothing coherent.

Even though my hand is around his throat, I don’t cut off his air. It’d be a waste, what with the sounds he makes: stuttered attempts at my name, interspersed with blasphemy and bad words.

I stroke his dick slowly—way too slowly. Just enough to feel good but not go anywhere. Meanwhile, I grind my clothed cock against his ass and suck his earlobe.

“Pl-please get me off,” he mutters. “Arm …” I twist my wrist down below, and he gasps, whimpers. I’m really not sure if he begs because he needs to or because he knows I like it. Doesn’t matter; it’s hot as fuck.

I hum against his ear and give the side of his throat a little nibble without breaking the skin. “Did you say something? I didn’t hear you.”

He whirls his head around as much as he can with his throat in my grip and tries to kiss me, but I tilt my head back. He bites his lip, which is a blatant invite for me to bite right back, but I feel like making him wait. Maybe I’m pissed about whatever the fuck happened this afternoon. Or maybe I just like having him trapped in my arms like this, writhing with no hope of escape or release until I give it to him.

“Mm, please.” 

Another wrist twist, made wet with precome.

“Please. Please … fuck.”

He puts his hand over mine on his throat and pushes, silently begging me to tighten my grip, so I do. Sometimes, it’s kind of fuzzy who’s the boss around here.

Timmy tries to move his hips and fuck up into my hand, but I curl my much bigger thigh over his and cease his movements.

“Come on, Armie!”

I laugh with my face in his hair. “Tell me what else I can get you for Christmas, and maybe I'll let you come.” Other than gloves; those are a given.

His arms are mostly free. He tries to shove my hands away—from his neck and cock. Adorable when he’s feisty. I let him push my hands away … and then tackle him onto his stomach down the center of the bed. I rub myself against his ass and curl a fist into his hair.

“Oh, yeah, this is better,” I growl. There is no way I’m not coming in my pants. 

He presses his ass up against me. “I seriously hate you sometimes.”

“I’d be worried if you didn’t.” I lean up and take hold of his hips and tug until he’s on all fours. I then continue my teenage dry-humping against his delicious ass while taking hold of his dick and actually give him what he wants: a tightened grip and increased speed. Like in some unrealistic romance novel, we come at the same time. Timmy’s arms go out from under him, so the pillow muffles his shouts, but I can still hear him, feel him tremble, as I embarrassingly come in my expensive slacks and go blind for about two minutes.

Next thing I know, he’s grumbling beneath me in the dark, because I’m pretty much crushing the life out of him.

I roll onto my side and push hair out of his face, kissing whatever skin I can reach with his cheek still shoved against a pillow. “Bet those are dry clean only,” he mumbles.

Yeah, I am kind of sticky. I roll out of bed and take off all my clothes. By the time I’ve turned back around, Timmy is sprawled on his back (probably in a pool of his own spunk), eyes closed. I straddle his hips and shove his t-shirt up so I can play with his nipples.

He cusses and bats at my hands. “What the fuck are you on tonight?”

I’m sorry.

I’m overcompensating.

I’m scared you’re going to tell me to leave forever.

I’m scared of losing the feel of your skin.

I’m scared.

I tumble to his side but still run my fingers down his slim chest and concave abdomen. “What are you doing for Christmas?”

He rubs his eyes. “Not much. My parents are in France through January. They go away every year.”

“And just leave you alone for Christmas?”

He yawns. “Armie, I’m not five.”

“But you didn’t grow up in France. You’re a native New Yorker.”

He barely spares me a glance, as if he wouldn’t be at all surprised if I pulled out a copy of his birth certificate. “How do you know that?”

“The way you walk, like you have some internal alarm system that keeps you from running into people.”

I can barely see his smirk in the dark. “I ran into you.”

“Thank Christ.”

He stretches his arms over his head before clawing at blankets. “You’re making the whole bed cold. Why didn’t you feed?”

“I wasn’t hungry.” 

He harrumphs and pulls fabric up to his chin. “Maybe we can hang out for Christmas. But you have to meet Saoirse again first. It’s your penance.”

“I’m not Catholic, kid.”

He shimmies and melts further beneath fabric.

“Fine. I’ll meet her again.”

“And don't be a dick.”

I lean up on an elbow at his side and play with his curls, wrapping pieces around my fingertips and letting them fall like silent snow on the pillow. “Speaking of being a dick, why were you one today?”

He lifts his head—just his head. “What?”

“Yeah, having a panic attack and storming out.”

Now, he sits up on his elbows. Even in the dark, I can see that everything from his eyebrows to his chin is pointed down in annoyance. “Are you calling me a dick for having a panic attack?”

I’m really not sure. I just know something was wrong today, and excuse me if I can’t read minds—although I probably wouldn’t want that because then I would know exactly how often I annoy the miracle who for some reason still allows me in his bed.

“Panic attacks aren’t a choice, Armie.” 

“Then, why did you have one?” 

He huffs and bounces onto his back before pulling all the damn covers over his head.

“You’re gonna suffocate, you know.” I pull at the blankets, but he holds them in an iron grip. “Timmy.”

He says something, but I can’t hear him through the entire Macy’s catalogue of down comforters. 

“Sorry?” 

He shifts until I can see his nose and mouth. “I don’t like how much I like you.” Then, he buries himself again.

I pause to wallow in overwhelming warmth before I chortle once and reach for him, but he grumbles and rolls away, taking all the blankets as he goes. He actually falls off the edge of the bed, but I’m not worried. He’s cocooned in so much fabric, he probably doesn’t even notice.

Chapter Text

You are a lethal predator. You are a lethal predator.

It’s my fucking mantra today because I’ve obviously forgotten. Instead of being out on the town stalking my next victim, I stand in Timmy’s kitchen as the kid practically bounces on his toes.

From a pathetic cell phone speaker, Bing Crosby sings “White Christmas.” So I need to buy Timmy a stereo now. Great.

I couldn’t wait until Christmas and already gave him the new pair of gloves: cashmere-lined Gucci leather beauties. He said they were “too much, Armie,” and looked up the price, just like with his coat. A grand. He tried to make me take them back, but who gives a shit about a thousand bucks? Who else am I going to spend it on? He accepted them begrudgingly … and now wears them constantly, even around his apartment. I caught him petting them once like a cat.

Timmy has a sad little Charlie Brown pine tree in the corner, and he’s decorated it with too much tinsel and fifty million twinkle lights. Its limbs droop like its depressed—and no wonder. All the joy in the room has been sucked into Timmy’s face. I’m worried that at any moment he’ll start glowing.

It’s fucking adorable. Goddamn magical is what it is. He looks so gorgeous when he’s happy. I want to make him happy.

You are a lethal predator. You are a lethal—

Timmy giggles but quickly covers his mouth with his hand. We’re meeting Saoirse again tonight, and he seems way too cheerful about it. Something’s up. “What?” I ask. “What is it?”

“So we’re meeting Saoirse at a party. At her house. Saoirse is having a party.” He grins like an evil goose.

“Jesus, Timmy, did you hit your head when we were fucking earlier?”

He blushes. After all the filthy things we’ve done together, I can’t believe he still blushes—although, in his defense, we were really filthy this afternoon. Some of the things that came out of his mouth even made me stop and stare … and leave some serious bruises on his hips. Trust me; I’ve checked. There’s a big bite mark around his left nipple, too, and I love that he now rubs at his chest like my fangs are still there.

He reaches for a department store bag on his counter. “It’s an ugly Christmas sweater party.” 

“Oh-kay.”

“So I bought you an ugly Christmas sweater.”

“One, you’re too poor to be buying me shit. Two, why would I want to wear something ugly?”

He sighs. The plastic bag rustles in his grip. “That’s the point. Everyone’s supposed to look ugly.”

“Timmy, it’s an empirical impossibility for you to look ugly.”

He presses his lips together, all embarrassed and nervous like, which is when I realize I’ve been letting that slide.

I take a huge step forward, which makes Timmy take a step back so that he’s pinned against the kitchen counter. I press my thumb to his bottom lip and push until his mouth opens enough for me to lick inside. I kiss him hard. His lips strain against mine, and he moans for mercy.

Noses still pressed together, I whisper, “You know your mouth is mine.” 

He leans up on his toes, pushing me back, and tries to bite me. His teeth make a quick clacking noise before he grins in a way that makes me want to suck his cock. The kid is a menace—the physical manifestation of temptation. And although he’s usually my perfect little submissive, God, I love when he pushes my buttons. I love when he’s playful like this.

I almost say it: I love you. But I don’t because I’m not an idiot.

However, because I am a big wussy for this boy, I say, “Show me the damn sweater.” 

He actually squeaks with joy before tearing the bag open and holding a much-too-big sweater in front of his skinny chest. He looks up at me from beneath silken curls, which he knows is a surefire way to win any argument.

The sweater is …

Well.

There are two gingerbread characters fucking on the front of this sweater surrounded by fanciful red and green trim.

“It lights up!” Timmy says. He pushes a little button, and tiny red lights appear glowing within the knit fabric.

“Nope. Absolutely not.” 

“Oh, come on,” he begs in that surprisingly deep voice of his. The voice that tastes like cinnamon when I swallow his prayers for pleasure.

Stupid Timmy with his stupid voice and stupid hair—and the stupid way I love him.

“Fine.” I take off my suit coat. Aggressively. “What are you wearing?”

“Something ugly.” He tosses the sweater at me before spinning around and skipping toward the bathroom. 

“After this party, I’m tying you to the bed and fucking you until you can’t walk.”

He slides to a halt in his stockinged feet. “You know it would be way more of a threat to cut me off from sex, right?”

I feel my entire face crinkle. “Why would I do that to myself?”

***

Saoirse’s “ugly Christmas sweater party” is in a nearby apartment a lot bigger than Timmy’s, and when I point this out, he says she’s got roommates. Huh, it never occurred to me how lucky I am that he lives alone. There are fake Christmas garlands strung with white lights hanging from the ceiling. The place smells like pine, moth-eaten wool, and too many drunk kids while modern club beats upset the image of a December beer commercial.

Oh, and Timmy does not look ugly.

I get the joke, though, I do. All the party attendees are wearing some version of my own cheap, itchy monstrosity. Half the sweaters light up; the rest reek of thrift shop. People wear huge elf or Santa hats while sipping ambitiously from red Solo cups. And Timmy is an affection magnet.

His sweater has got to be two sizes too big and has a big elf on the front, letters reading “Let’s Get Elfed Up.” Completing the ensemble are a pair of his usual skintight jeans, leather ankle boots, and a large elf hat that keeps sliding over his eyes. There’s a silver bell on the end of it, so at least he’s easy to find as he bounces from one social group to the next.

Seriously, he gets a hug from every partygoer. Apparently, people love hugging the kid. I mean, I relate. He gives good hugs. Even though he’s tall, he ducks and, like, nuzzles people. I’d be jealous if it wasn’t so innocent. Although it looks like everyone here loves Timmy, nobody wants to fuck him … well, except maybe the vampire who just stepped up to my left as Timmy sits on a rickety piano bench in front of an equally rickety piano.

The stereo cuts out. Saoirse—in a black sweater covered in sequined snowflakes—drags the elf hat off Timmy’s head. His lush curls tumble free and into his face, but he doesn’t seem to notice and starts playing an impeccable rendition of Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown Christmas song because Timmy is fucking perfect.

Conversations continue at a lower volume as he plays, focused on his instrument while taking occasional one-handed interludes to sip at the Solo cup wedged between his knees.

The vampire to my left is the quintessential tall, dark, and handsome with a wide jaw that might as well be carved from stone. Somehow, he avoided the ugly sweater thing and wears a black cashmere number I would murder for.

He nods at Timmy. “Yours?”

“Yeah.”

“Hmm.” He holds an empty Solo cup—keeping up human appearances. “What about the blonde?” He nods at Saoirse. “Know her?” 

“She’s not a big fan of vampires.”

She stands next to Timmy and starts singing “O Tannenbaum.” My jaw drops in shock. Jesus, the girl can sing. I mean, I know Timmy said she was into opera, but … I glance around, wondering if I’ve drifted into some mystical world where everyone is hot, young, and freakishly talented. 

“Pity,” the strange vampire says. “What about your sexy little snack, then? Care to share?”

I don’t even look at the asshole; the timbre of my voice should be enough as I growl, “You even look at him wrong, and I’ll send you to hell.”

The jerk laughs. “Whoa, dude. You in love with your dinner? That can’t end well.” He pats me on the shoulder, and it takes all my resolve to not tear his throat out. “Good luck, moron.” He ambles away.

Across the room, Timmy stops playing and hops to his feet to hug someone with long dreadlocks. With the stereo still off, I can hear him.

Speaking fucking French.

Three, two, one, and I’m rock hard. God, his whole face changes when he speaks French. It’s like he gets more beautiful. His mouth, always expressive, pouts out and carefully forms each word. The accent is American, but he knows the words and pronounces them with panache.

He talks with the dreadlocks dude about summers and vacations and professors and The Met—until I want to suck his lips into my mouth—until he notices me watching and dirty grins like he’s done something deviant.

“Hey.”

I startle when Saoirse arrives at my side. I look away from Timmy because I have to because we’re not supposed to fuck in front of an audience against the wall or over the back of the couch or on the kitchen island. Shit, who cares? I would fuck French-talking, piano-playing Timmy in a dumpster right now.

Saoirse chews the top of her cup. “Cute guy you were just talking to. You know him?”

“No.” 

“Wouldn’t mind an introduction.”

“He’s a vampire.”

She cusses. “How the fuck did he get in?” 

I shove my hands in my pockets, well aware that I’m wearing a stupid shirt that lights up—and I’m still getting eye-fucked by half the room. “We don’t have to be invited inside. That’s just a myth.”

“I know.” Her shoulders swing back and forth. “I’ve been reading up on your sort.” 

“Oh, yeah?” Don’t be a dick, Armie.

“Sure. I know all about vampires now.” She wears Timmy’s elf hat, which is even bigger on her since her hair isn’t as fluffy. She pushes the furry, white brim out of her eyes. “Still don’t know how to spot one, though. Apparently.”

I watch Timmy down something in a shot glass. “In theory, you shouldn’t be able to.”

“That sounds ominous.”

I shake my head. “No. We’re just … like you.” 

“Well, not exactly.”

I mean, she’s right: not exactly. We do drink blood to live and can disappear if we want to and oh, sort of soar through the night sky. So not exactly, but … “We’re just trying to survive like the rest of you, make it through the god awful day to day, looking for some kind of meaning.” Wow. Did not mean to say all that. Whatever happened to being a mysterious immortal? True, I successfully have not told Timmy I love him yet, but why did I just spew all that emotional shit on Saoirse, otherwise known as “the woman who hates me?”

She doesn’t look like she hates me right now. She stares up at me with those too-light eyes, head titled, with pink lips pursed together in a pout. “Are you traditionally a sad person, Armie?”

“Fucking hell,” I mutter and try to walk away.

Saoirse has surprisingly strong and claw-like fingers that now dig into my forearm. “Look, I’m sorry I was mean to you the first time we met, but Timmy is—”

“If you say ‘special,’ I’m leaving.” 

She glares at me. For someone so petite, her glare is huge. “Timmy is my best friend.” She rolls her eyes. “And yes, he’s bloody special, but you know that. Don’t you?”

God, I do. I know, I know, I know.

“And since I’ve read all about your kind and your people’s ‘coming out,’ I know it’s illegal for you to kill him or …” She blinks like she might start crying—but doesn’t. “It’s illegal for you to turn him into something like you, so if you even think about either of those things, I will hunt your cold, dead ass to the edges of the earth.”

I nod. “Deal.” 

She smacks me hard on the back. “I guess you’re not so bad, Armand.” 

“Yeah, well, between the two of us, I feel like you’re way more terrifying.”

She grins. “True.”

“But you have a beautiful voice.”

She winks. “I know.” And walks into the party’s chaos where, stereo back on, people leap and dance around while laughing and spilling drinks. 

It’s not hard to spot Timmy. He dances in the middle of it all, eyes shut as he moves his hips and moves them well. Considering he’s ridden my dick a number of times, his hip dexterity shouldn’t be a surprise—and yet, it is. I didn’t know he could dance like that. 

People part as I pass. Timmy doesn’t notice me until I’ve pressed my ever-hardening cock against his ass and start dancing with him. Immediately, he reaches up behind him and curls fingers in my hair. 

“Armie,” he mutters and tilts his head back so we can kiss. He tastes like whatever spicy cinnamon shot he just took. 

I lean down and whisper, “T'es si beau, mon cheri.”

He chuckles. “Tu parles français?”

“Oui.” I lean down closer to his ear. “Quand tu parles français, ça me donne envie de te baiser.” I’ve just admitted that Timmy speaking French makes me want to fuck him and only realize my mistake too late as he turns around with a glint in his eye. 

“Vraiment?” He wraps skinny arms around my neck. “Bien, je veux que tu me baises.” He winks. “Mais pas maintenant. Tu dois attendre.”

Of course, he would make me wait. And of course, I’ve dug my own grave, because he spends the rest of the party whispering filthy things—in French—until I consider jerking off in the bathroom.

God, I’ve created a monster.

***

Drunk Timmy is new. I’ve never seen him like this before. I practically carry him away from Saoirse’s. She was equally smashed, so much so that she actually gave me a hug when we left.

The other vampire was nowhere to be seen. Probably went home with some succulent young thing who was into the kink, because, yes, vampires are definitely a kink now. It’s never a problem getting laid, not that I want anyone else right now, and isn’t that a scary thought? 

I’m in love with a wasted twenty-one-year-old half-French musical prodigy who is almost impossible to carry because, with all his long appendages, carrying drunk Timmy is like carrying a dozen human-sized spiders. Seriously, this is some Lord of the Rings Sherlob shit right here.

And he’s singing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” He actually has a really nice voice because of course he does. This kid is the perfect package.

It’s not that late, so people are still partying in bars as we pass. Glancing inside, I see glowing sweaters that match mine. Everywhere, the world glows, and it gets even more magical when huge, white snowflakes start falling.

Timmy coos and drags me to a stop. “No, no, wait.” He stands under a streetlight and stares straight up, snowflakes coming to rest on his eyelashes and hair. In this light, his pale skin glows gold like candlelight. He opens his mouth, sticks out his tongue, and catches some snow before grabbing onto the lamppost and spinning quite gracefully considering he’s hammered.

He’s cute. Really cute. Like a sweet, little lamb.

Since I am, in fact, a lethal predator (damn it), my fangs are out before I even realize.

I latch onto the front of his coat and drag him into an alley’s shadow. Timmy giggles, but his amusement is cut short when I shove him against an icy brick wall. I see his eyes widen for a moment before I violently tilt his head to the side with my fist in his hair. I bite down on his neck, not worried a tick about leaving bite marks. Let the world see. He’ll have bite marks and bruises because I want this to hurt.

He cries out, but I cover his mouth with my hand and trap his body against the wall. Even when he shoves at my shoulders, I don’t budge. I drink the heady mix of Timmy and too much booze, and oh, God, he’s a little bit scared of me. I taste it. I love when he’s scared like this—scared and totally turned on. 

I press my upper thigh between his legs right against his rigid cock.

As I continue to drink, I feel his little pleading noises across my palm and push harder. His breaths come hard, fast, and loud through his nose as he gives in and rides my thigh.

I pull my fangs from his throat and lick my lips. Jesus, that’s heady. I seriously might be buzzed from all the booze in his system. I pant against his ear, remove my hand from his mouth, and brush his hair with my fingers. “I can’t be without you,” I mutter, pulling back. As I caress his cheekbones, I notice his bottom lip is bleeding. I touch it gently with my thumb. “Shit.”

His tongue pokes out to lick. “Must have busted it on my teeth.”

He’s so breakable. Goddamn it, Armie.

“What the fuck was that?” he asks, slurring his words as he continues humping my leg, hands curled in the front of my coat to keep me close. 

“You looked so innocent,” I say. “I wanted to destroy you.”

He smiles a little. His eyes have never looked so dark. He proceeds to climb me like a tree until both his spindly legs are wrapped around my waist. Then, he sucks on the side of my neck like a baby vamp without fangs. “Take me home,” he whispers. His breath is like fire. I’m burning.

Chapter Text

Jesus, I don’t remember how we got here, but I’d like to stay here for the rest of eternity with Timmy fucking himself on my lap in nothing but a green elf hat. I’m naked, too, the cheap leather of Timmy’s chair itching my back as he claws at my front.

He supports himself with hands on my shoulders and rolls his hips once, twice, slowly—too slowly. God, this is torture. Every time I try to pick up the pace, he shoves my efforts away. He even closed his delicate hand around my throat once, the way I often do to him, and told me to “Behave.”

I feel like this is punishment for the alley, how rough I was, how I wanted to just ruin him. The bite mark on the side of his neck is already blossoming into a spectacular bruise, lit by the white twinkle lights on Timmy's Christmas tree, and his lip is puffy from where it split.

When I first dragged drunk Timmy inside an hour ago, he kicked off his shoes and removed all his clothes—except for the elf hat. When he jolts me back to the moment with a thrust of his hips, the little bell on top jingles.

I wrap his hips in the palms of my hands. “Fuck, Timmy.”

He leans his head back, mouth open as he tongues at his busted bottom lip. The angle takes me deeper inside of him. He gasps when I assume my dick hits his prostate. I reach down for his cock, rigid between us, but before I can touch it, he mutters, “Not yet” and keeps riding me at this tortuously slow rhythm that he has deemed appropriate even though it’s making my entire body shake.

I run my hands up his bare back, skin hot to the touch, and tug him closer so I can kiss his chest and lick his nipples. The bite mark around his left one is still prominent from before Saoirse’s party, so I go for the right and suck hard until he whines and puffs out two loud breaths, his fingers digging into my collarbone.

The silly elf hat falls off, and thank Christ, he starts moving a little faster. He must be able to feel my cock in his stomach, maybe tickling the bottom of his lungs. He squeezes tight around me, and I’m so busy staring at his perfect, pink nipples, I don’t notice he’s watching me until I smell his cinnamon-alcohol breath over the fresh scent of pine and lingering aroma of cold, clean snow.

He stares down into my face and moves his hips in tiny figure eights. 

“What are you doing?” I ask because he looks … strange. I know he’s pretty drunk, so his face looks a little different just because he’s even softer than usual, eyes half-mast and pink around the edges. Despite this, his expression is one of singular focus. I almost believe he can read minds.

“I want this,” he says. “Forever.”

Oh, fuck yes. Give me this Timmy, this age, this body and face—forever. Give me his slouching shoulders and magical musician fingers. Give me the youthful whimpers and manly moans. Forever. 

Snap out of it, Armie.

Vampires aren’t allowed to turn people. That’s why we’re not supposed to date humans, not supposed to get attached. It’s illegal, for Christ’s sake. Plus, I just promised Saoirse hours ago I would never do that to Timmy. I would never make him like me, cold and monstrous. A murderer.

I almost lose my boner. 

Almost.

And it was all going so well.

The kid must not like what he sees, because he covers my face with his hand and starts riding me in earnest. The old chair creaks beneath us as he fucks himself into oblivion. My dick is now ignoring my brain. If it could talk, it would scream, “Never. Stop. Doing. That." 

But it will stop. Tomorrow.

Christ, I almost lose my boner again.

I want to smother his body with mine, so I wrap my arms around him and lift. He mumbles, “Hey, I’m in charge,” as I walk us to the bed and flop down on top of him.

I thrust like I’ve been wanting to and say, “You’re really not,” and he doesn’t debate. His eyes roll back in his head, and his hands reach up, bracing himself against the wall so I don’t fuck him through it.

His spine arches when he comes untouched between us. Someone should paint his “O” face, someone like da Vinci. (Mona Lisa who?) I come with a roar that sounds nothing like a sob, thank you very much.

Timmy falls asleep after, but I stay awake all night, petting him and kissing parts of his body, nuzzling his hair. The space heater hums in the corner but doesn’t drown out the soft sounds he makes when he dreams. I rest my head on his chest and listen to his heartbeat.

I plan to sneak out in the morning before he wakes—but fail, because all of a sudden, there’s sunshine in the room, bright white, reflecting off all the snow on the windowsill and down in the street outside. Must have dozed off.

His voice: “Why do you know French?” The sound echoes in my ear, plastered as I am just above his heart. His fingers play with my hair.

“I was a Parisian marquis.” 

“Oh.”

I tickle my fingers across his lower abdomen, barely touching the soft hair at his groin.

“You’re going to leave me now, aren’t you? Because of what I said. Because of forever.”

I fucking hate how smart he is. “Yeah,” I mutter.

“Okay.” I can hear the way his throat is already congested with grief. “Just go.”

I stand and don’t look back at him as I pull on my clothes, but he speaks when I reach for the ugly Christmas sweater. 

“Leave it?”

I nod at the floor and set the sweater on his kitchen counter. When I glance back at him, he’s pulled the blankets up over his nudity, but I still see the bite mark on his neck, the black-purple bruise. “Stay away from vampires, Timmy. Promise me.”

He’s trying not to cry while I’m still there. I can see it in the tension of his jaw, the way he stares out the window without really seeing.

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

“I’m … sorry.”

“Just go, Armie.” He slings an arm over his face and sniffs. 

It seriously would not help if I told him I loved him and then left like a coward, so I don’t. I leave without saying anything, but in the hallway, the scent of his sadness is a tidal wave that almost knocks me over. I run from it, am literally chased out of the building, by the reek of his despair: this kid I love more than I’ve ever loved anything. This kid I have to leave to keep him alive and safe. This kid I’ve just broken. 

***

Christmas is coming in a few days, and I can’t bring myself to return all the shit I bought Timmy. It all sits spread across the huge marble island in my empty kitchen on the Upper East Side: wool socks, a loose-fitting knit cap that won’t smash his hair, these Dolce and Gabbana boxer briefs that are so fucking tiny … Man, I really wanted to see him in those. Oh, and a stereo so he can listen to music like a proper adult. How the fuck does an NYU piano major not have a stereo?

Anyway, it’s all here in front of me. I should return it immediately. Like, yesterday. But I can’t seem to do it because returning it means I will never see him again. Returning it makes this all real—and it is real. I was serious when I left Timmy broken and alone.

Forever? We can’t talk like that. It’s all fine and romantic and shit when humans talk that way because it’s a metaphor. But a human and a vampire? Nu-uh. No, sir. We can’t talk about that shit, but Timmy did and ruined everything. This is obviously all his fault.

(I am a pathetic piece of shit.)

I’ve been going out to blood clubs, places where humans go to be bitten, sucked, and fucked. I used to frequent this one place before I met … that French person. There, see? I’m not even going to use his name anymore. I fill my now seemingly endless free time by chewing on strangers without ever feeling fulfilled.

Sometimes, I swear I catch his scent on the breeze: cloves cigarettes and lavender laundry detergent. I try to avoid his neighborhood and the college campus. I try to avoid all the places he used to go, especially that fucking coffee shop that started this whole thing. I think maybe I should leave town for a while. I still have a big house in Europe. Maybe I should go there? 

Again, that makes it all too real, but I have to face it: I left the kid, and I’m never going to have him again.

Tonight at a blood club, there's this hot little number with curly black hair and nice lips. I let him suck my dick before I drink his blood but feel immediately nauseous when I realize how much he reminds me of The French Person. Great, I’m just looking for substitutes now, but nothing is as good as the real thing.

Walking home, I think I catch his scent. Jesus, it’s like I’m being haunted. I shout a "fuck you" at all the cheerful Christmas lights on these cheerful, snowy streets and wish Christmas would hurry up and get here already—and then, be gone, because it’s just a reminder of a day I was supposed to spend with The French Person but not anymore.

His familiar scent floats on a chilly breeze again, stronger now, laced with fear.

I stop walking and take a heaving deep breath. 

I smell fear … and pain. 

Timmy.

I probably look like I’m gulping air like water as I start walking rapidly in what I assume to be the right direction, and I’m correct: the smell of him gets stronger and all the more terrifying because Timmy is close and he’s hurt. Based on the smell, he’s hurt badly. He’s positively leaking blood.

Oh, my God.

Chapter Text

In my rush to find Timmy, I crash into a bunch of kids outside a club. They’re loud and obnoxious—almost as loud as the thumping bass beats spilling out the club’s front doors. Jesus, I know this place. This is where I stalked Timmy on Halloween. Suddenly, I realize I wandered here blindly, looking for him, and I’ve almost found him.

The drunk kids cuss at me, but no, he’s not inside the club. He’s not in line. He’s …

Down the alley.

Saoirse is with him. I hear her before I see them. She’s on the phone, screaming for an ambulance, choking on sobs. I round a corner, and they’re beneath a flickering yellow light in a back alley. The kid knows New York. He probably thought they’d take a short cut to the bar. Done it a million times before, but something went wrong this time.

I fall to my knees next to him.

Saoirse shrieks and drops her phone at my arrival. Her throat is bare, white scarf removed and pressed against Timmy’s blood-soaked stomach. He’s breathing in tiny, alarming puffs, but his eyes—squeezed tightly shut a second before—pop open when I cover his bloody hands with mine.

“Armie?” His silken voice is little more than a croak.

I lift the scarf away and can’t tell exactly what we’re dealing with because there’s too much blood, pooled in the soft, cozy place by his bellybutton that I love to lick. I do notice he’s wearing the ugly Christmas sweater he bought for me, ruined now by all that blood. “What the fuck happened?” I don’t even recognize my own panicked cry.

“Some drunk guy wanted his coat,” Saoirse says when she finds some air. “Timmy wouldn’t give it to him. There was a knife, and …” Her shoulders tremble as she sobs.

That’s when I notice Timmy, half in a filthy puddle, isn’t wearing a coat. The Armani I bought him is gone. He got stabbed because he wouldn’t give up my gift, and then, some fucker took it anyway. Maybe, like me with all his unreturned Christmas presents, Timmy couldn’t part with that coat because it reminded him of me.

He coughs, and the lollipop red lips I love turn redder still as blood spurts out and over his chin. 

Saoirse covers her mouth and shakes her head. “No, please.”

He spits words out while gargling on death. “I … love you … both.”

“Sersh.” I let my fangs hang over my lip. “If I don’t do this, he’s going to die.”

She’s done her research. She knows what I’m talking about. I’m only asking as a polite formality, however. I’m turning Timmy into a vampire right here, right now, no matter what she says because I’m an idiot in love. 

Despite her crying, Saoirse finds the resolve to stare me down. Her face might be a mask of grief and horror, but I see the tough cookie crouched behind her eyes. She nods. “Do it.”

I bite into the side of Timmy’s neck and hate that he doesn’t make a sound. I drink two quick sips, enough to start bonding us together. Then, I bite my own wrist. I sink the fangs in deep so blood will fucking pour into his mouth. “Drink this.” I lift his head, shove my wrist against his lips, and he does drink, weakly. His heart is barely hanging on, each beat slower than the last. “Come on, Timmy …” He looks so broken, like a forgotten marionette.

I listen for the change, not real death but a much darker, faux equivalent. I can finally breathe again once I hear his body start to struggle. I put my arms around him and lift, chest to chest. “This might hurt a little,” I whisper. I said the same thing to him on Halloween.

He tenses against me. “Arm … Oh, fuck … Ah …” These are not good noises. They’re not the harried wheezes of pleasure-pain; he’s in legitimate agony, so much so that he goes silent as he clings to me, trembling. His body is transforming into something unnatural. What do they say? The struggle is real.

He’s shivering when it’s done, tear-soaked face glued to the side of my neck. Saoirse has fallen back onto her ass, just staring at the pair of us. There’s blood everywhere: mine and Timmy’s. We gotta get the fuck out of here before an ambulance arrives, followed by cops and questions and who knows what other fresh hell?

“My place,” I command. “Now.”

***

I’ve lit every fire in my condo just to stay busy and to hide the fact that I’m still shaking and covered in Timmy’s blood. I’ve never wanted my goddamn mother so much in my life, and she’s been dead for two hundred years. I have no one to call, no idea what to do now. I pace around my kitchen. I prowl like a caged lion.

An hour ago, Saoirse took Timmy into my master bedroom to wash up. When my door slowly opens now, I lurch forward, and she almost trips back inside.

“Sorry.” I hold my bloody hands in front of me, and then hide them behind my back. “Jesus, I’m a fucking mess. Did I say that out loud?”

“Armie.” Bless her, she’s bathed and wearing a sweater of mine. It goes all the way to her knobby knees. She closes my bedroom door and walks toward me. “You need to calm down, mate.”

“Is he okay?”

She tilts her head, and damp, blonde hair falls in her face. She brushes it away. “Yeah. He’s asking for you, but …” She winces. “You can’t go in there like that. Timmy doesn’t need the reminder that he almost just …” She chokes, put her hands on her knees, and dry heaves. Before I can even move, she shoots upright again. “‘M fine.” She clears her throat. “You’re covered in his fucking blood, Armand.”

I pull at the crispy, blood-caked cuffs of my shirt. “Right. Yeah.” I nod with violent agreement.

“Wow, you’re more of a mess than he is. Come here, you supposed ruthless killing machine.” She slides my jacket off my shoulders and guides me to the kitchen sink where she does her best to chip away at the gore.

Blood is hell to get out.

When I’m as good as I’m gonna get, she dries my face with a kitchen towel and sighs. “Mind if I sleep on your couch tonight?”

“Do whatever you want.” I start stepping around her, but she stops me with a hand on my chest.

“How did you find us?”

I pause. “I was looking for memories of him.”

As if that convoluted statement explains everything, Saoirse nods. “He was doing the same for you. Now, go make him believe everything’s going to be okay.”

Tall order, lady.

“And Armie.” She squeezes my hand. “Thank you.”

My master bedroom is painted in navy blue hues of the most lavish variety. My California king-sized bed can fit up to six; I’ve tried. All the furniture is deep red-varnished wood. The fireplace could warm a city block, and that’s where I spot Timmy—sitting on the floor, curled up in a ball, arms around his knees, and staring into open flame.

Like Saoirse, he bathed and smells like my shampoo. He’s wearing a comically large pair of my flannel pajamas. The neck of them falls off his right shoulder. His hair has dried into clean, springy curls, but he doesn’t look any different. Vampires look like everyone else. He smells different, though. He smells like me because of my soap and my blood, and I don’t mourn his human scent because the scent of him now means he’s here and mine. 

I look from him to the fire. “You can’t possibly be cold anymore.” The thing about being dead: the weather is no longer a bother.

He looks up and gives me a smile, no teeth. Or, I mean, no fangs.

I handed Saoirse a cup of blood when we arrived. It sits on the floor next to Timmy, untouched. “Weren’t you hungry?”

He lifts his bare shoulder in a half shrug. “I’ve never had much of an appetite for food. It’s how I keep my girlish figure.”

I sit Indian-style in front of him but not blocking the fire. He seems to like watching it right now. “How do you feel?”

“Heh-heh, um …” He opens his mouth and closes it. Flames dance in his dark eyes. He makes grabby hands. “Can you come closer, please?”

Race cars don’t move this fast. I wrap him in my arms and cradle his head against my chest. “I didn’t want this for you.”

“Well, I’d be dead if you hadn’t, so.”

“Technically, you’re still dead.” 

“Shut the fuck up, Armie.”

I smile against the top of his head, because there’s my snarky boy. “I love you, too. By the way.”

He freezes in my grip, hands closing on the fabric of my shirt. “I … did I say that? I mean … Oh. Shit.” His fingers dig into my chest as he pushes me away. “When did I say that?” Damn, never knew his voice could sound so shrill. It’s like a Timmy-sized fire truck just barreled into the room, sirens blaring.

“Well, you were bleeding out at the time, but I thought maybe you still meant it.”

“Of course I meant it,” he shouts. “But I wanted it to be …” He settles into a deflated slouch. “I dunno. I wanted to say it during a, like, quiet moment. Candlelit and shit.” He plucks at his flannel pant leg. “But that was before I fucked everything up. And now, I’m this … dead thing, and …” His thick eyebrows squeeze together beneath a furrowed brow. “I’m not human anymore, Armie. Do you even still want me?”

I bust out laughing because, oh, my God, I am so fucking in love with this kid. Now that I’ve said it once, the second time is simple. “I love you,” I say through downright embarrassing giggles as I lift up onto my knees and tackle him to his back on the floor.

Our limbs tangle together as I press kisses all over his face and into his hair. I kiss down the side of his neck and across his collarbone. I kiss and lick and suck until he’s laughing, too, so I add to his hysterics by pinching the spot on his hip where he’s ticklish.

He bats at me. “No, Armie! Stop!” His laughter is music to my ears, especially when he laughs so hard, he goes silent, mouth open wide as he play-wrestles me and loses miserably. He begs me again to stop, so I do. I roll onto my back and pull him on top of me. He nuzzles his face against my chin and under my jaw. I’ve barely shaved since I walked out on him, so I almost have a full beard.

Running my hand up and down his spine, I ask, “Why didn’t you just give that asshole your damn coat?”

He sighs. “It was the last thing I had of you—that and the ugly sweater.” 

“What about the gloves?”

He silently shoves his face against my chest and, if possible, climbs further on top of me. Despite his lanky build, he feels so small sometimes.

“Timmy?”

He mumbles a full sentence into the fabric of my shirt.

“What was that?”

He lifts his head, and his pointy chin digs into my left pec. “I may have cut the gloves into a million tiny pieces after you left. And then cried for two days.”

“I’ll buy you a new pair.” 

He snuggles against me, yawns. “Yeah, I guess you are literally rich. I’ve only seen condos like yours in movies. Fancy movies. I’m pretty sure I could swim laps in your bathtub.” 

Picturing the kid in a swimming cap makes me chuckle. I also think a bath sounds like just what I need. Timmy’s voice interrupts my fantasies of sweet-smelling suds and warm water.

“I’m going to freak out," he says. "At some point. About being dead. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.” He lifts his head, and the hair is all flat on one side. I finger-brush it back to normalcy as he continues. “Was it weird for you when it happened?”

I run my fingertip down the center of his nose and over his lips. “No. As a human, I was already a megalomaniac psychopath. Half of Parisian high society probably thought I drank the blood of my enemies for dessert.”

“Jesus.” He shakes his head and rolls off of me, onto his back on the hardwood floors. Nope, that bothers me. Timmy is too skinny to lay on hardwood floors. I scoop him up, bridal style, and he yelps. 

“Come on, let me show you a real bed.” 

“It’s not my fault I’m a poor college student. And you could have brought me back here anytime, asshole.”

I throw him in the center of my plush comforter, and he stops complaining. Instead, he shimmies and smiles, melting into the fabric. 

Technically, he’s right: I could have brought him back here to fuck. (I have a cornucopia of toys even Timmy’s dirty imagination couldn’t conceive.) Emotionally, though, there was no way I was bringing him back here. It felt too intimate, too much like something a boyfriend would do. I didn’t want him to know where I lived because I was content keeping him at arm’s length. 

Not anymore. Now, he’s here, and he’s mine. Christmas came early. Granted, due to a blood-soaked alley of death, but whatever.

I start unbuttoning my shirt. “I’m going to take a quick shower." A bath would take too long. I don't want to be away from him right now. Or ever.

Eyes half open, he nods against a pillowcase. The contrast of his pale skin against navy blue fabric is stunning. “I’m going to have to tell people,” he says. “My parents, my professors. What are they going to think?” 

He needs physical connection, so I sit on the bed’s edge and tangle our fingers together. “Well, it was either this or you gone forever.”

“Forever,” he mutters, but he's not talking about death.

“Forever,” I reply and kiss the back of his cold hand.

Chapter Text

The morning of Christmas Eve, I wake to someone bouncing on my bed. I’m half-awake but still alert enough to grab Timmy by his pajamas and wrap him in a headlock. He bites down on my forearm with his fucking puppy teeth. His fangs are still growing, so they feel like little razors in my flesh. I hiss, cuss, and pull his head back by his hair. He grins at me, teeth stained with my blood.

“You gonna punish me?" he asks. "Daddy?”

“Daddy” is a new development that started last night when Timmy realized I had basically rebirthed him as a vampire. I had given him life … or death … immortal death? Semantics. Anyway, halfway through a mind-bending fuck in my huge bathtub, the kid had the audacity to call me “Daddy," and I couldn’t get him to stop. It annoyed me, but he seems to like poking the bear. I usually do “punish” him when I’m surly, so irritating me might now be a conditioned response for Timmy. Like “annoy Armie and get laid.”

Christ, I’ve created a monster. 

I wrap my arms around him again but keep my skin away from his little shark teeth. “You are the worst,” I say while kissing his neck and behind his ear.

He hums and relaxes back against me until we’re both cocooned beneath all the heavy blankets on my bed. I even pin him down with one of my legs. He was always wiggly, but as a vampire, he’s faster and stronger. He doesn’t fight me when my kisses become gentle nibbles, but he does announce, “You have zero Christmas decorations, so you’re the worst.”

“Well, I don’t usually celebrate Christmas because I don’t usually have anyone to celebrate with.” Sneakily, I start rolling my morning wood against the side of his ass. 

“Nooooooooo.” He tries to scoot away. “No sex until we have a Christmas tree!”

I roll him onto his back and assume my usual position between his legs. I lazily dry-hump, and when he tries shoving at me, I just clasp his skinny wrists in my hands and pin them down. “Since when have you been able to stop me?” 

He lunges forward suddenly, fangs out, and almost gets the tip of my nose.

I use my best bad guy voice. “I have ball gags made for vampire teeth, and I’m not afraid to use one.”

“You wouldn’t,” he says. “You like the sounds I make too much.” Then, he grins. 

I sigh and rest my forehead on his shoulder. “God, what have I gotten myself into?” 

“Come on, Armie!” He pushes at my shoulders. “It’s almost Christmas! We have shopping to do!”

I drop my full weight on him, and he “oofs” beneath me. “You realize you’re only allowed a certain number of exclamation points per day.”

“The allowance … is higher … at Christmas.” He gasps on a breath and scratches at my back. “Armie. Can’t. Breathe.”

I roll to my side, and Timmy springs out of bed like a sugar plum fairy on cocaine. On his way to the door: “Fifteen minutes, and we’re leaving. I’m covering your house in glitter.”

I rub my hands down my face and mutter, “Fantastic,” because I’m supposed to be grumpy—but I’m not, damn it. In theory, I should hate all this. I’ve never been one for enthusiasm or celebrations. I love blood and sex, the occasional good murder. Now, I love Timmy, and seeing him so happy in my home makes me seriously consider buying a Santa costume just so he’ll sit on my lap and tell me everything he wants. 

Wonder of wonders, so far, he just wants me. 

Contrary to Timmy’s earlier concerns, he has yet to have a total freak out over now being a vampire. Since he never was much of a food-drink consumer, he doesn’t miss anything. He still sneaks cloves on my balcony (after I wrap him in one of my fur-lined Armani coats, not because he needs it, but because he looks beautiful in fur). He likes the taste of blood but doesn’t crave it like most newbie vamps. He just drinks when I tell him. I’m not worried about him attacking anyone—except me.

Which he does. 

Twice, he’s jumped out from shadowy corners of my condo and onto my back and dug his fangs into any bare skin he can reach. True, vampires gain no sustenance from consuming of each other, but I suspect it’s payback for all the times I scared him as a human. He’s like a damn spider monkey. 

He hasn’t told anyone about his … “untimely death” yet. He hasn’t had to really. Only Saoirse knows, and she just left town to visit her family in Ireland. Classes at NYU are over until mid-January thanks to the holiday season. Timmy's parents are in Paris—although he will be calling them tomorrow to break the news. When I asked last night if he wanted to discuss his exact words, he refused. Said he just wanted to “be us” for a little while.

We’re still figuring out what that means, honestly. 

We were good as human-vampire fuck buddies. Now, we’re both immortal and in love. I guess that changes things? It’s supposed to, I think. I frankly have no idea.

***

He actually drags me to Rockefeller Center where shivering locals rush around in search of that last minute gift. Mouth open wide with glee, he points to the seventy-foot garishly decorated tree, surrounded by snow. 

I nudge him with my elbow. “We can’t have that one, Timmy.”

“Ass,” he mutters before latching onto my arm and pulling. “This way, Ebenezer! And I realize you’re acting like Scrooge on purpose because you think it’s cool to be, like, jaded and shit, but I see the twinkle in your eye, so at least stop clenching your teeth to keep from smiling. It’s bad for your jaw muscles.” 

I hack up a laugh. This fucking kid.

He makes me stare into the holiday window displays on Fifth Avenue. At Bloomingdale’s, Timmy halts and basically attaches himself to the glass like a six-foot-tall leech.

The window reads “Glorious Cacophony” and features an old organ with a reclined mermaid on top, covered in big jewels. There are all sorts of musical equipment, which would of course attract Timmy, but I dig the lighting: purple and green with a sort of golden age Paris absinthe vibe. I half expect a tiny statue of Toulouse-Lautrec somewhere in the back, peaking out to say, “Bonjour, Armand.” (We got drunk together once. Okay, there may have been opium involved. And hookers.)

Timmy’s breath doesn’t fog up the glass, even though his nose is stuck to it. “I would kill to have that organ at your place,” he says. 

“What? My fucking eighty-thousand-dollar Steinway grand isn’t enough for you?”

I seriously do own a Steinway grand, and I’ve never played piano in my life. I’ve always admired the instrument (shit, like I said, I saw Beethoven, okay?), but it was a decorative piece until I brought Timmy home. Over the past two days, he’s played it—a lot—after we had a guy come over and retune it, of course. Spruce it up after years of disuse. Now, the Steinway sound soars across the high ceilings of my condo like it was just waiting for Timmy to touch it.

He spins from the wondrous window and grabs my hand. “Are you kidding? I love Luca.”

I pull his body up against mine, heedless of passerby, and kiss his nose. “Who the fuck is Luca?”

“The piano, duh.” He rolls his eyes like I’m an idiot. I guess I am—for him. “Now, we shop.”

He drags me into a nightmare of glittery decorations, fake garlands, obnoxious modern Christmas tunes (I only accept Frank Sinatra), and middle-aged women who coo over Timmy’s purchases and look like they want to ruffle his hair. I glare at them until they back the fuck off. Jesus, I know he’s adorable, but he’s not actually a puppy. I feel a sick sort of glee when I remember he could kill all of them. 

With a bunch of bags in my arms, Timmy leads me finally to a snow-covered Christmas tree lot where he picks out a little one we won’t have trouble carrying home. He takes the top; I take the bottom. The entire walk back to my place, he keeps glancing over his shoulder, grinning. My cold heart melts a little more. Maybe Christmas isn’t so bad after all.

***

Riding up the elevator with our tree and heaps of decorations, Timmy makes animated small talk with one of my rich neighbors: a tall, frightening woman who always wears fur coats and too much makeup. She seems shocked to be addressed, especially since I’ve never said a word to her, but she nods and smiles while Timmy expounds over the wonders of Fifth Avenue and says, “Nice to meet you! Merry Christmas!” as we step off on my floor.

I start to understand my new life all of a sudden, like a huge smack to the face. I think maybe I’m going to start having friends. I think I’m going to have to stop being such an asshole, especially to Saoirse. I think I might end up … happy? All because of my boy wonder who, months ago, was supposed to be someone I just scared and fucked and maybe hurt a little. (I mean, I still like doing all those things.) Instead, I’m in love, and we’ve already moved half Timmy’s belongings into my condo. Now, we’re adding a bunch of Christmas shit.

After putting the tree in its stand, I go to the kitchen and pour him a big glass of blood before lighting the living room fireplace. I hear the rustle of bags as Timmy digs through all his goodies. He tells Alexa to play “Christmas music,” and Bing Crosby sings “Jingle Bells.” Beyond my huge windows, day slowly turns to night, and the whole massive room glows gold.

In front of the tree, Timmy untangles twinkle lights. He sits on the floor, hunched over in concentration. His hair covers most of his face, but I see his tongue poked out, toying with the side of his mouth. He’s in this gorgeous gray sweater that just … mmm.

I sit on the floor behind him, caging him in with my thighs. I hand him the glass of blood. “Drink that.”

Distracted, he does as he’s told and sets the empty on my wood floor. Then, back to untangling …

I wrap an arm around his waist and pull him back against me. “We have a Christmas tree.”

He hums agreement as his long arms reach out for a box of decorative baubles.

“You said …” I rub my nose up and down the side of his neck before moving my arm up, hand up, to wrap lightly around the front of his throat. “No sex until we had a Christmas tree.”

He huffs—but does nothing to escape my grip. “But it’s not even decorated yet.”

“Well …” I reach my other hand down between his legs where he’s already half-hard and squeeze him through his skinny jeans. “You shouldn’t have worn this damn sweater. I want to fuck you wearing nothing but this sweater. I want to fuck you on all fours and feel it against my chest.” 

“It’s from …” I feel him swallow against my palm. “Goodwill.” 

I chuckle, and he’s soon laughing with me, head turned to meet my mouth in a gentle kiss. I lean closer and kiss him harder until our tongues touch. Timmy’s hands clutch to my knees—squeeze, release, squeeze, release. I don’t think he even realizes he’s doing it, which means I’ve successfully kicked his brain offline. His cock now runs The Timmy Show. 

I let go of him all at once and scoot back, which makes him pout and spin around, searching for me. I don’t give him time to pout for long as my eyes assess the situation. “Hmm. Better idea.” I lift him with my hand in his armpit, scoop up a lengthy string of white twinkle lights, and drag him to the bedroom.

Once there, I switch on the itty-bitty lights: battery-operated marvels, so perfect for my intentions. I toss them on the bed and turn around to find Timmy standing there, precious and patient like a goddamn wrapped up gift in the center of my room. A million scenarios rattle around my mind. I want to do so many things to him. Everything.

I better start somewhere, so I pull the sweater off over his head. Halfway off, “I thought you liked the sweater,” comes out muffled. Once he’s topless, he shakes his hair until his curls are back in place.

“I love the sweater.” I lean down and kiss the center of his sternum. “I love your skin more.” I unbutton his jeans and pull them down his hips, along with his underwear. He gets the hint and tries to kick off his boots while I shimmy fabric down his thighs, but we just end up sort of tussling until I scoop him over my shoulder and set him on the bed before removing every last thing that could come between me and his flesh.

I shrug out of my suit coat. “On your stomach. Hands above your head.” 

He blinks up at me before complying, shoving blankets out of the way so it’s just Timmy’s bare back, ass, thighs … a complete contrast to the dark sheets. With the twinkle lights in-hand, I straddle his lower back. Thanks to years of experience, I can make anything into a rope, damn it. I create makeshift cuffs with cheerful twinkle lights and bind him to my headboard—because, thank Christ, unlike at Timmy’s place, we actually have a headboard here. The lights sparkle as Timmy tests their give, green wire pinching into his wrists.

I spot one of Timmy’s random hair ties on the bedside table. He wears them sometimes when he’s giving me head. It’s nice, really, like the rudder on a boat—a way to steer his suction. Now, I collect as much of his dark curls as I can and tie them out of his face because I want to be able to see his expressions. I also want him to be able to see the box of goodies I slide out from beneath my bed.

“Oh, fuck,” he mumbles.

Kid, you have no idea. And frankly, there’s nothing he can do right now, bound to the bed as he is. I love having him at my mercy. 

Before opening the box, I pull out the Liberator Wedge. Timmy’s familiar with this, as we’ve used it before. Great for hitting the right angles. He lifts his hips for me when I approach, and I slide the little pillow around until it’s just right with Timmy’s perfect little ass high in the air. Consciously or not, he spreads his legs, but no way in hell am I fucking him anytime soon. This is gonna take a while. 

Okay, now I kneel down next to the bed and open the box—and look up at him. His lips part as he stares at my myriad toys. With his hair pulled out of his face, the white-gold glow of Christmas lights tickles his cheekbones. 

I reach first for a black velvet bag. Its metallic rattle is the only noise. Well, that and Timmy’s shuddering breath. I raise an eyebrow at him and pull out one long, slim piece of stainless steel, and he says, “No. Fuck no.”

I snort. “Do you even know what this is?” 

“You’re not shoving a sound up my dick. Just no.”

I put the shiny trinket back in the bag amidst all my others and toss it into the box. “Well, obviously. You’re on your stomach right now. Don’t be ridiculous.”

The twinkle lights rattle. “You’re never using one of those on me.”

I click my tongue. “Never say never.”

In annoyance, he thwacks his head against the bed a couple times, but it loses its effect considering the bed is plush as fuck.

I sift around. There’s so much here: rope, anal beads, nipple clamps, et cetera. Since we’ve never really used toys, though, I figure we should start slowly. No need to blow my metaphorical load. I palm a personal favorite of mine but don’t let Timmy see, even as he currently cranes his head around like a curious flamingo.

“What are you going to do?” he asks as I kneel between his thighs and spread them further apart with my hands. Timmy’s got stick legs. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still sexy as hell, but his legs are like toothpicks.

I don’t say anything. Instead, I lean forward and kiss where ass meets thigh on both sides before spreading his cheeks and licking his hole. His breath catches, and he tenses before relaxing against me.

“Fuck,” he sighs. His forehead drops to the pillow, and his fingers, illuminated by his festive bondage, curl into fists.

I lick some more until I can wiggle my tongue inside him. He’s whimpering, thighs shaking.

I start with one finger, but it’s not long before I can add two. I gently thrust my digits into his body, then twist and scissor. Above me on the bed, it sounds like he chokes on air. He positively pulls at his binding. The circular bruising will be spectacular. Sadly, since vampires heal so quickly, the marks will only last an hour or so, but I plan to worship those fine wrists when I’m finished.

My name is a desperate plea as I remove all contact. He picks his head up and tries to look back at me. The twinkle lights are like a halo illuminating the small ponytail on top of his head. I hold up the vibrating prostate massager, glad that I pulled his hair back, glad that he can see it.

“What is …” He gulps.

I press just the rounded tip to his hole and turn the vibrations on the lowest setting.

His back arches as much as it can with his hands secured above his head. “Skjfoisdfnlududslksjfkl,” he says.

I fucking preen. “Oh, you haven’t felt anything yet.” I add some lube and fuck him just a little with the silicone toy with the shiny silver handle. I watch it disappear inside his body, quietly humming like the space heater we left back at his place. 

“Mmmm ….” His whole body shivers.

“Has anyone ever used a vibrator on you like this before?”

From where I kneel, I see his head twisted to the side. Half his face is shoved against the pillow, but his mouth is wide open, eyes shut.

“Timmy, I asked you a question.”

“Whaaaaat?”

“Has anyone ever fucked you like this before?”

“N-no. Armie, I don’t think I can—it’s too—Christ—fucking—”

I amp up the vibration one click, and he goes silent, nothing but gasping breath.

The toy is right up against his prostate, and I show no mercy, hitting that magic place again and again until suddenly, he comes without a sound. His whole body lurches with his orgasm. I suspect his vocal chords have shut off at the shock of it.

I gently remove the toy, set it aside, and Timmy doesn’t budge. Just breathes through his mouth. I lean forward, my body above him and hands on the outsides of his shoulders. “Jesus, did I knock you out?”

“Noooooooooo.” His face scrunches up and relaxes, but his eyes don’t open. 

I lick his ear, and he twitches. The twinkle lights click together above us—a plastic symphony. “Well. I’m going to fuck you now.” 

“No, you absolutely will not.”

I chuckle darkly. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Armie.” He licks his lips, probably dry from all that huffing and puffing. “I think I’ll go blind if you fuck me right now.” 

I lean to the side and sit next to him before reaching up and untangling the Christmas lights. “Liked that toy, huh?”

“I swear I saw fireworks behind my eyelids.” 

I set his wrists free, and I was right: they’re red, chafed, and bruised. Timmy doesn’t move. He’s a ragdoll in my bed. I roll him onto his side and toss the Liberator onto the floor. I pull the covers up around him and kiss his wrists. I lick his wrists and kiss some more.

This isn’t like me. Old Armie would have laughed at Timmy and fucked him anyway—probably until he sobbed with oversensitivity—and would have enjoyed every tear. New Armie (this fucking guy) ignores his own erection and admires Timmy’s short-lived bruises.

I’m like one of the three wise men. I’ve traveled long and far to see a miracle. I’m here to worship, and although Timmy isn’t the Christ child, he certainly is my star. 

A star who currently snores like a chainsaw, but whatever. He’s fucking cute, okay?

Chapter Text

I never sleep much, unlike Timmy, who sprawls across my chest in a post-sex coma. I don’t want to leave him alone in bed, but then, I think about the naked tree in my living room and how Christmas morning is only a couple hours away.

I wrapped all his presents two days ago while he napped. Okay, I hired a lady to come over and wrap all his presents because I can.

However, it’s 2 AM on Christmas morning, so I doubt I can get a full staff over here right now, even with all my immortal influence and cash. 

Timmy mumbles my name when I shift. I carefully slide off the side of the bed, keeping his head aloft in the palm of my hand before resting it ever so gently back on a pillow. He snuffles and makes this delightful whimper-growl noise before settling heavily in the bed, fingers curled in the sheets. I pull a blanket over him and kiss his forehead before tiptoeing from the room.

In front of the Christmas tree, I assess. Timmy bought a lot of shit, but he did warn that he planned to cover my house in glitter. Here is a bunch of glitter. Jesus, glitter never goes away. I sigh and tell myself it’s okay. I’ll hire a cleaning crew after the New Year.

I attack the tree first. I cover it with twinkle lights and brightly colored baubles. I reach my hand high above my head to put the star on top. I plug it all in and think it looks all right. Timmy could probably do it better, but this is another of my gifts for him: the grumpy, old vampire getting into the Christmas spirit. Speaking of gifts, I drag all of his out from the guest bedroom where I’ve kept them hidden and arrange the artfully wrapped cornucopia beneath the pine-scented bows.

(I can almost hear Timmy’s voice already: “It’s too much, Armie!”

Eventually, I hope he gets it—that nothing is “too much” for him.)

I hang garlands around the kitchen and some above the raging fireplace. I added extra wood earlier so the thing will be roaring all morning.

I get out the fancy glassware. Yes, I have fancy glassware, not because I spend my days drinking blood from crystal like a lonely billionaire but because I like to impress people. Special people, at least. Timmy is obviously special and will probably love the glasses. Even I admire the way the long-stemmed flutes glimmer in the firelight.

I tell Alexa to turn on (quietly) the only respectable Christmas music there is: Frank Sinatra’s classic album. As soon as old blue eyes starts singing “The Christmas Waltz,” I hear the soft sound of bare feet behind me, gentle as falling snow.

Timmy stands wrapped in a big blanket and nothing else. Shoulders covered in thick navy blue, his pale collarbone juts out like a silken collar. The only other skin I can see are his skinny shins, fragile ankles, and long feet.

His mouth is half-open like he’s about to ask something, probably admonish me for leaving him alone, but then, he must hear Frank. He must notice the way my usually dark house outright glows. He turns and sees the tree and all the glittery wrapped gifts beneath. He laughs once before his eyes turn red when he starts crying happy tears—of blood.

Shit, I did not tell him about that. Saoirse is probably aware of this immortal side effect thanks to all her research, but Timmy? I have a bad feeling the freak out he was worried about is soon to arrive.

I try to reach him before he notices—as if he won’t notice—because as soon as I wipe blood from his cheeks, he sees my hands stained red.

He stops smiling. “Armie?” Christ, the kid probably thinks he’s dying all over again. 

“It’s nothing. It’s normal.” I use corners of the navy blue blanket to wipe more tears from his face, but now that he’s noticed that he literally cries blood, he just starts crying more. “Timmy, it’s nothing to worry about.”

He lets go of the blanket so he can touch his own face. He stands naked, pale, and beautiful in my living room. He runs his fingertips beneath his eyes and stares at his hands, painted red. Gawking up at me, horrified, he resembles a weeping marble statue—the ones that locals claim cry blood in third world country Catholic churches, where people still believe in God and miracles.

His bloody hands shake. “Jesus, what am I?”

“Okay, why don’t we just sit down?”

He does sit—or more like crumbles—right onto the floor and pulls the discarded blanket up around his shoulders. He rocks forward and back, red-rimmed eyes vacant, staring as blood dries on his face.

I start to say his name but don’t think he’ll hear me. I tell Alexa to “fucking stop playing cheerful Christmas music,” but she doesn’t listen because she’s a robot, and why am I cussing out a robot? I just tell her to STOP and open the drawer on my kitchen island where Timmy keeps his clove cigarettes.

On my way back to him, I light one in my mouth and sit Indian-style. I take a puff so the sweet cinnamon scent is in the air and then extend the little cancer stick to the freaked out man I love. He takes it immediately, practically claws for it, and sucks a huge lungful of smoke down his throat. He holds it and exhales before mindlessly repeating the motion four times.

Meanwhile, here I sit, and damn it, I’m starting to freak out, too. I just need him to say something, let me know he hasn’t gone bonkers—that he’s still in there, still my Timmy.

Right before I snap and start shaking him, he whispers, “What else?”

“What … else?” 

He licks his lips, chasing the flavor of the clove. “What other weird shit do I have to look forward to?”

“Not much honestly. I forgot about the …” I wave at his blood-drenched face.

“Because you never cry,” he says quickly.

Mostly true. However: “I was pretty damn close in that alley a couple days ago.”

He ashes on my floor, which is unlike Timmy. He’s usually so polite and thoughtful. I once watched him move a stranger’s water bottle from a trash can into the recycling bin, and now, he’s tossing ash on expensive mahogany. “We drink blood to live. We’re fine in the sun. We don’t actually sleep in coffins. Garlic?”

“I don’t really like the smell, but …” I shrug.

He blows smoke over my head. “What about crosses? Can we go in churches?”

“Crosses are fine. Churches are fine.”

“So the movies are all bull shit, but we can die. I saw you …”

He saw me murder three young vampires with my bare hands and teeth, yeah, all to protect him. So what if I enjoyed it a little?

“You could kill me,” he says quietly.

I clench my jaw and shake my head. “No, I couldn’t.”

His brow furrows. “Why? Is it some sire-offspring thing? Like killing me would kill you, too?”

God, for someone so smart, the kid can be really stupid. “Timmy. I couldn’t kill you because I love you too much.”

“Oh,” he says.

“Oh.” I nod.

He takes another hit of the clove and stands, leaving me and the blanket behind. Water runs behind me. The garbage opens and closes. Then, he appears, a beacon of supple, white flesh lit by twinkle lights and dancing fire. He folds himself onto my lap and wraps his arms around my neck. 

His bedhead tickles my jaw as my hands go around him and pull him closer. I say, “I should have told you about the crying.”

“At least they were happy tears.” He tilts his head back and kisses my chin. “The house looks like a dream.”

“Yeah, like a dozen elves threw up.”

He snickers. “Jesus, Armie.”

“Oh, right. Happy birthday, Jesus.”

He sits up enough to kiss the side of my face and then rolls away from me, even as I try to hold onto his hips and pull him back. He bats at my hands until I let go. “I’ll shower and put on my Christmas outfit.”

“There’s a Christmas outfit? Tell me it’s the slutty Mrs. Clause costume from Mean Girls.”

“Oh, my God, no.” He rolls his eyes and pulls the blanket up over his bare skin as he stands. It doesn’t even bother me that his face is still stained with blood. Gentle soul that he is, it might as well be cookie frosting. Before walking down the hall, he says, “Alexa, play ‘Jingle Bell Rock.’”

I chuckle as he glances over his shoulder at me and then disappears, but I’m not sure the storm has passed. Like, we only had a quick blizzard of emotion but there’s another two feet on the way. Because Timmy is a gentle soul. He’s loving and kind and disturbingly humble for someone so beautiful, so talented.

Vampires are (generally) narcissistic, egomaniacal murderers with a thirst for blood and sex. Hell, Timmy is mine because I stalked him. He’s a vampire because I bought him an expensive coat. He’s a vampire, but he’s not like other vampires.

He’s … Timmy.

He likes being tied up but reaches for me and wants to snuggle as soon as I free his wrists. He gets upset when I’m rude to people. He’s played massive concert halls but prefers to hide in a derelict building on the edge of NYU’s campus to practice. He hugs his friends like he hasn’t seen them in two years even though he saw them yesterday. He hugs me with his head under my chin, his fingers beneath my coat, and hums happiness. 

Timmy is a new kind of vampire, and we’ll figure that out together. For now, though, it's Christmas. I can’t wait to see his face when he opens his gifts. Maybe the kid is rubbing off on me.

Chapter Text

Over the sound of Alexa playing a random conglomeration of bad and occasionally good Christmas tunes, I hear the quiet slide of socks on hardwood. I’m halfway through filling our crystal flutes with blood when I turn around and sigh at the sight of him.

Face no longer covered in blood, he’s pale and perfect, curls a silky frame around his angular face. (I know he uses some kind of special curl pomade or gel or possibly magic to get those curls just right. I once became completely hypnotized watching him work his fingers through his shower-damp hair—so much so that I didn’t remember walking across the room and shamelessly rutting against his ass. I fucked him against the sink, and he had to shower all over again.)

I look at the creamy sweater he’s sporting and squint. “Is that a lamb?” 

He shrugs and stuffs his hands in his jeans pockets and I wonder if he can read minds. I distinctly recall thinking of him as a lamb once, that night in the snow when I pulled him into an alley, starving for his skin, and left bruises. That was also the night he said “forever,” and I left him cold and alone in the morning.

Not anymore. Never again. 

“Come here.”

He shuffles forward in fluffy socks the same color as his sweater. When he stands in front of me, I grab his hips and lift him onto the kitchen island. I nudge his knees apart and step between them before shoving my face against his neck and breathing in. He’s the scent of my body soap and sweetness. I reach my hands up the back of the sweater—even softer than it looks—and claw at his bare skin.

I don’t even need to ask. He tilts his head back, and I kiss the revealed skin. His hands rest on my forearms and squeeze. 

“Fuck, you look edible,” I mutter. 

“Mm.” His hands run up my forearms and grip my biceps.

“I’ve never wanted anyone the way I want you. Have I told you that?” I suck his bottom lip between my teeth and let go.

He licks it as if seeking the taste of my spit.

“God, I want to do horrible, wonderful things to you all day.”

Mouth parted, he breathes toward the ceiling with his eyes shut. I’ve lulled him into a stupor. It’s not difficult. Apparently, before we met, he never got that much attention—which is ri-goddamn-diculous. Jesus, were all other dudes fricking blind before me? 

He told me once that things only started to change when he grew out his hair. He used to keep it short until Saoirse said he’d look good with “floofy hair” (her words). He got more glances in bars, I guess, but still didn’t get approached that often. I told him it was because he’s intimidating, which made him laugh.

I understand Timmy is not intimidating in the “gonna kick your ass” sort of way, but he’s out of most men’s league. Shit, he’s not even playing the same sport. I explained most men don’t know how to approach earthbound angels with lips like sin. I’m sure most men wanted, but how could they talk to a deity?

Just my luck, because I’m the one who ended up with this precious thing on my countertop.

“Hey.” I give his hair a tug, which makes him blink at me, although his eyes are still lust-hazy. “Let’s have a toast.” I spin around and finish pouring blood before extending a twinkling crystal glass in Timmy’s direction.

He takes it with two hands, obviously afraid he’s going to drop it. I doubt the kid is accustomed to drinking out of Swarovski crystal.

I step back between his legs and tap our glasses together. “To you.” 

Still gripping the glass like it’s a newborn baby, he lowers his brows. “To … me?”

“Yeah.” I take a sip of some damn fine AB-negative, the rarest blood type there is.

Timmy doesn’t drink. “Shouldn’t we toast to, like, the birth of Christ or some shit? Or-or peace and joy?”

I shake my head. “Nope.”

“Okay. To … me.” He chuckles and shakes his head before taking a sip—and promptly stares at the glass. “This tastes different.”

“Like heaven, right? It’s special occasion shit.”

Timmy takes another small sip before downing his whole glass in one go. He’s got a really accommodating throat for such a fragile-looking dude. He sets the glass down—carefully—and says, “I want my present.” He reaches for my belt, devil in his eyes, but I grab his skinny fingers and squeeze. 

“They’re under the tree.”

He pouts, and it’s cuter than fifty puppies. 

I finish my crystal cup of blood and set the flute aside before throwing Timmy over my shoulder. He laughs immediately. The sound pours out of him in a rush like his body can’t contain his joy. 

I plop him down on a thick white carpet I earlier set in front of the tree and sit next to him. I’m in Armani on the floor, and it again makes me wonder if changing Timmy into a vampire also changed me. I watch his eyes—those emerald wonders, sometimes dark, sometimes light—take in all the gifts, and wait for it … wait for it … 

“Armie, it’s too much!”

There it is. Knew it was coming.

I suck hard on the side of his neck until he yelps. “Nothing is too much for you.” I point to a huge box. “Now, open that one first.”

When he tears through the paper to reveal a top of the line stereo, he plunks back down on his ass and crosses his arms. “No. No, I can’t take that.”

I cackle. “You’re right. I’m taking that back, because I already have an incredible stereo system in the den, and you’re living here forever.”

He shoves me so hard, I fall onto my back, still laughing. “You’re such an idiot.”

When he opens the box with the thick, wool socks, he rubs them across his face. Same with the light gray cashmere beanie. He puts that on his head, grinning so hard, I think his cheekbones might shatter like ice.

“Dude, it’s so warm!”

“Yeah, I bought all this shit when you were human and spent every day freezing your skinny ass off.” 

“Hey!” He scoffs. “You love my ass!” 

“Damn straight. It’s like a ripe peach. Doesn’t mean you aren’t still a skinny little bastard.” 

I see it coming. The resemblance to a cat about to pounce is uncanny. He lands in my arms in a tackle, all his spindly limbs struggling to accost mine. Unlike Timmy, however, I am not a skinny little bastard, so I easily wrap my body around his and pin him to the ground with his face smushed into the carpet, new hat askew. 

I keep him pinned with one hand because it really is that easy, even when he wiggles. I use the other hand to unbutton his jeans and shove them down his hips, along with his underwear. The way I’ve got him held, his ass is up in the air at just the right angle. 

“There’s the ass I love.” I spank him once—hard. 

He cries out, moans, and says, “Fuck, do that again, daddy.”

I roll my eyes. He knows I’m not a fan of him calling me “daddy.” It’s just not one of my kinks, okay? And it reminds me way too much of our massive age difference … although that shit doesn’t matter as much now that he’s immortal. Still, he’s trying to provoke me.

It works. 

I smack his ass again and admire not only the red handprint on his skin but also the way he struggles to breathe through his pleasure. He’s practically huffing carpet, and the hat has fallen completely off. Hair free, it reaches like glossy tendrils down his cheek, cupping his jaw. 

Again, I give him a swat with just as much heat.

He jerks but doesn’t make a sound, mouth wide open.

I run my palm over his bright red ass. “Goddamn, you like that, don’t you? Why have we never done this before?”

“I … didn’t … know … I liked it.” He reaches a hand up and rubs his face, same way he does first thing in the morning. Maybe he just woke up from a trance?

With his words, my mind whirls, picturing all the toys in the box under my bed. “Believe me when I say I can’t wait to figure out all the things you like.” 

He tries to shimmy out of my grip, but I hold tight and press him harder into the floor. He harumphs. “Come on, Armie, let go!”

I nibble his ear and thrust my hard, albeit clothed cock against the back of his thigh. “Now, why would I do something like that?”

“Because we need to fuck, oh, my God, please, please …” He keeps pleading, and nope, he’s in no way coherent. He’s still in a sex haze. He probably thinks he’s on Mars right now. 

I’m totally on board with this idea—until I remember he still has one last gift to open. I spring away from him and violently grab Timmy’s final present from beneath the tree. I use my teeth to tear through the wrapping and spit tissue paper on the floor. “Go put these on.”

“Huh?” He rolls onto his back, his dick at attention. I stare, waiting for it to fucking salute, when Timmy shouts, “Are you kidding me?” I look down at him, and his eyes are wide pools of disbelief. 

“No.” I shove the bit of black fabric at him—the tiny Dolce and Gabbana boxer briefs I bought. “Go put those on, and come back here. Hurry the fuck up.” 

He doesn’t move, just gapes at me, face flushed with desire. 

“Chop, chop, Timothee! Bad boys get coal in their stockings and no sex.”

Well. That gets his attention. He scrambles to grab his gift from my fingers, and I give him a big, wet smooch before he departs, socks skittering across wood floors. I set a land speed record for clothes removal, discarding shirt and slacks in a whirl of immortal flesh. My eyes are saucers, primed to see him in his D&G duds, and my fingers itch to touch him.

Gimme, gimme, gimme.

I keep on my own boxer briefs—another gift for him to open—and wait on my knees in the center of the plush fabric. I tell Alexa to “stop with Christmas and play Two Feet.” She complies like she knows I’ll kick her robot ass if she doesn’t do as I say. Right. Now.

The song “Love is a Bitch” starts playing just as Timmy walks in. (Talk about entrance music.) But he’s sort of curled over the way he does when he feels insecure, and his hands cover his junk. “They’re really small,” he whispers. 

I chuckle. “Jesus, Timmy, that’s why I bought them.” I offer a forceful come-hither gesture with my hand.

With me on my knees and him standing right in front of me, I’m at the perfect level to kiss the sweet smelling, soft spots on either side of his bellybutton. I linger for a second, searching for a scar from his stabbing—but nothing. He’s pristine, beyond a few precious freckles that I tickle with my nose.

Then, I lean back to appreciate the flawless way the expensive briefs cup his junk. With my hands on his hips, I turn him around, and yep, these babies were definitely worth the cash. I take a big bite of his right ass cheek, and he yelps before giggling.

I lick the base of his spine. “You look incredible.”

“Thank you,” he mumbles, doubt evident in everything from his curled shoulders and clasped hands to his barely there voice.

I turn him around to face me and gaze up at him. From this vantage point, it feels like worship—which it is. I worship this fucking kid like a god. Why can’t he see that? “Timmy.” I take firm hold of his hips. “When will you finally believe you’re beautiful?”

He smirks. “Maybe if you say it one more time.”

“You’re beautiful.”

He slides to his knees on the carpet in front of me and presses our chests together before wrapping an arm around the back of my head and kissing me. While sucking on his tongue, I try to reach my hands into the back of his boxers and … damn, they are small. I have to shimmy my hands between fabric and skin to get a good grip on his ass.

I squeeze, and he winces but smiles. “Damn, it’s gonna hurt to sit down later.”

“You love it.”

Over the heavy bass synth in the background, I manage to carefully lift him by the thighs and rest him on his back in the center of the cushy rug. He makes grabby hands up at me, but we’re missing something. I press a kiss to the center of his chest and hoof it to the kitchen where I keep lube in a drawer. Yes, I keep lube all over my house, okay?

From above, I admire his pale flesh, almost as white as the carpet at his back. I admire the second skin that is those D&G boxers and frown because, “Take them off.”

He lifts his hips, hooks his fingers in the waistband, and pulls. Black fabric skirts down, revealing hipbones and long, long legs. And his cock, of course, not quite at attention yet, still shy like Timmy can be sometimes. I must be staring too long, admiring the freckles like constellations and lean cut of his muscle, because when he says my name—a whispered “Armie”—it sounds desperate and almost sad.

I kneel between his thighs, spread already, waiting. I kiss the inside skin of each parted knee. Timmy bites the shit out of his lips, so I freeze and raise my eyebrows. “Tut-tut,” I mutter.

He stops chewing his lips and laughs once toward the ceiling, surely remembering Halloween when I first claimed that wicked mouth for mine.

Mine, mine, mine.

Literally, five minutes ago, I was spanking this kid. I wanted to destroy him, so it shocks me that I feel the need to be so gentle now. I lube up my fingers and take time opening him up. I pet at his hole, kiss the tip of his cock, and lick his nipples. Don’t get me wrong; Timmy likes it rough—and yet, somehow, rough doesn’t feel right at this moment. It’s like he feels it, too, as he cards his fingers softly through my hair and accepts my open-mouthed kisses with quiet sighs and huffed moans.

I press inside of him, face-to-face. Once I’m fully seated, I linger over him, elbows resting on either side of his head. He’s apparently incapable of breathing through his nose, cold mouth breaths hitting my face as I just gaze at him. His fingers tickle my cheeks, my jaw, down the center of my nose. 

“Please,” he whispers as his legs wrap around my hips.

It feels like we fuck forever—and I’m familiar with eternity, all right? I set a slow pace, slow and deep, and we retain eye contact the whole time. Unless we’re kissing. In the moments when we kiss, it feels like we’re trying to swallow each other. Timmy’s clever musician’s fingers clasp and relax on my back. I slip my hands beneath him and cling to his shoulder blades as I thrust, sometimes kiss his neck, but mostly just watch him fall apart. His eyes blink shut; his forehead wrinkles. He still breaths through his open mouth as his head tilts back, and I kiss his Adam’s apple. 

He must be close when he reaches down and strokes his cock. I watch, mesmerized by the way his hand moves and twists, shining wet with precome. His other hand grips the back of my skull to press our foreheads together. He tilts his chin up and kisses me, which is when I feel him twitch. He moans into my mouth, sucking hard at my bottom lip, as he comes and comes.

Well, it’s impossible for me to hold back now—not with his face all crumpled in pleasure and the taste of his continued whimpers draining down my throat. I come with my head buried against his shoulder before my elbows give out, and I melt onto Timmy.

He laughs out a gasp. “Armie!”

I say, “I need to be crushing you right now,” but it’s more than that. I need to feel him, all of him. Santa Claus ain’t real, but this is, right here. I take big breaths of his hair and the soft skin of his neck. Still on top of him, I run my hands down the sides of his ribs and over his hips. I suck the underside of his jaw. 

“What are you …” His deep voice is strained. “Doing to me?”

“I don’t know.” I really don’t. It’s like I’m fucking wasted on his body, his skin, his voice. My soft cock has slipped out, but I press my fingers into him, feel my spend.

Timmy rolls his hips and moans. “Jesus, Armie.” 

I rub my unshaven chin across his lower abdomen with a hand planted in the center of his chest to keep him still. I suck the inside of his thigh before actually biting down.

Timmy winces but doesn’t shove me away.

Dead blood doesn’t taste good. Well, it shouldn’t, but this is Timmy. Everything about him tastes good. I take a greedy sip and move to his other thigh, do the same. The taste of his blood in my mouth, I lick the underside of his ever-hardening cock.

“Armie, please, I can’t …” His head lolls from side to side above me.

He can’t? I can’t. I can’t stop. I’m suddenly ravenous. The beast has come out to play. This is what Timmy has the power to do to me—me, a lethal predator. He tames me and then, awakens me. He makes me want to be gentle; then, he makes me want to destroy. 

I loom over him and take a fistful of his hair in my hand. I pull his head back just as I twist his left nipple. 

He claws at me and makes a sound like he’s drowning. When he tries to kick a leg up to buck me off, I pin his skinny thigh with my knee. 

I tilt his head to the side and whisper against his ear: “How many times can I get you to come today, hmm?”

“Shit,” he mutters, fingers pressing against my chest.

“I think five.”

Eyes still glazed from the orgasm that happened two minutes ago, he goes pliant beneath me. “I don’t like odd numbers,” he says. “I think six.”

***

So I’m pacing, which should be impossible considering I couldn’t feel my legs an hour ago. We only got to round four before Timmy announced “time out” to call his parents. He said he needed to catch them early due to the European time difference.

We both showered once I regained feeling in my legs. (Seriously, the kid rode me like a bucking bronco until the only sensation in my body belonged to my dick.) Now, I’m sipping expensive blood and pacing like a nervous nelly because Timmy has been in the master bedroom for twenty minutes, and I want to know what the fuck is going on.

What exactly is he telling them? I mean, the truth works, because I did what I had to in order to keep him alive—which we still need to explain to the authorities. I’ve been trying not to think about the whole “illegal” thing, at least not until after Christmas, but hey, Christmas is almost over. Timmy is going to have to be added to the paranormal registry, and I’m going to have to plead my case to avoid jail and/or death.

I give the collar of my sweater a little tug at that. Death. I mean, yeah, I would die for Timmy, but I don’t want to die because of Timmy. I can’t put that weight on his innocent shoulders. I can’t leave him on this stupid earth without me, not now that we’ve found each other.

We’ll figure out the paranormal registry, we will. Right now, I want to know if his parents have disowned him for being a vampire. I want to know if he’s crying, if he needs me. Fuck it. I head for the master bedroom, but before I reach it, the door opens, and Timmy steps out with a cell phone in-hand.

“Um.” He holds the phone in my direction. “My mom wants to talk to you.”

I gawk at the offending object. “You’re fucking kidding me.”

“Armie.” He does that adorable thing where he furrows his brow and tilts his head to the side. 

“Christ.” I grab the phone and hold it to my ear. “Hello?”

Timmy’s mom’s voice comes out calm, clear, and intimidating. “Are you going to marry my son?” 

I sigh so loudly, they hear it in Jersey. Meanwhile, Timmy, back in his lamb sweater and skinny jeans, twists his fingers together and stares at the floor.

This was not the question I was expecting. In fact, I expected rage or maybe misery. I mean, this lady’s son is now a member of the undead community who lives on blood, but she’s worried about matrimony? God, rage would be preferred at this point.

“Armie.” She says my name like she’s said it a thousand times—which is when I realize she already knew about me. Way before Timmy died, he was talking to his mother about the vampire in his bed. I should be annoyed. Instead, I fall in love with him a little more, which I didn’t think was possible.

I take a deep breath. “I’m sorry, I don’t know your name.”

“Nicole.” 

“Nicole.” I turn away from Timmy because I honestly can’t deal with puppy dog eyes right now. “Everything has happened so quickly. I honestly hadn’t thought about marriage because, frankly, I’ve never thought about it before, ever, but …” I glance over my shoulder at Timmy, who hasn’t moved an inch. I whisper, not sure if he can hear and not really caring if he does. “I can’t imagine being with anyone but your son.”

I could say more, but I don’t. I feel like I’ve said enough, thanks, but maybe I’m wrong because there’s nothing but silence in Paris. 

Then, Nicole clears her throat. “Well, good, because he feels the same way about you. I trust you’ll be taking care of his registry.”

I eye my apartment, wondering if I’ve tumbled into the Twilight Zone. “Wait, that’s it? You’re not, like, pissed that your son is a vampire?”

“Armie, it’s the modern era. It’s not as if you turned him into a talking parrot. He’s still our Timothee, and it’s better this than having him dead in an alley.” She pauses. “Thank you, by the way, for saving his life.”

“I didn’t exactly.”

She chuckles deeply, the sound opposite of her son’s breathy giggle. “True. Make sure you don’t serve any jail time. I don’t think Tim could handle it.”

I turn and face the kid in question. “I won’t leave his side.”

“And we’ll be meeting upon our return from Paris.” 

“Oh-kay?”

“You’re part of our family now,” she says. “Et la famille avant tout.” Family comes first. 

I reach an arm out and beckon Timmy closer. He rushes into my arms, and I kiss the top of his head. “Ton fils avant tout.” Your son comes first. 

“A bientot, Armand.” She hangs up, and I stare at the phone.

“Is your mom a bad ass?”

Timmy nods against my chest. “Definitely. Are we getting married?”

I toss his phone on the couch and hug him close. “Well. Not today.”

His voice is all muffled against my shirt. “I don’t know what I think about marriage, and kids scare me.”

“That’s because kids are scary.”

He pulls back enough to look up at me, and I can’t help myself. He looks so damn soft and (still) freshly fucked that I kiss the tip of his nose. “Can I give you your Christmas present?”

I brush hair away from his face. “I don’t need anything.” And for the first time in a long time, ain’t that the truth?

He leans back out of my embrace but takes my hand before guiding me toward the living room, toward the shiny, black Steinway grand. He points to the nearby leather chair. “Sit.” 

“Yes, sir,” I mumble with attitude but do as he says. 

Timmy sitting at my Steinway is better than any masterpiece in any museum anywhere. Wanna fight? Come at me. It’s like he was made to sit in front of the damn thing, the instrument just waiting for his hands. He lays his fingers on the keys and takes a deep, slow breath before rolling his shoulders back and arching his back. He does this tiny stretch every time before he plays like a cat stretching after a long nap.

He says, “This is what you feel like to me.”

As soon as he starts playing, I recognize it. This is the song I heard him practicing at NYU. I remember thinking at the time that it reminded me of Timmy: hyper and soothing. Sometimes angry but sometimes sad. A duality—two sides of the same tune. A melodious Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

But it's not Timmy; it’s me.

It is so totally me.

I’m a monster who massages Timmy’s sensitive feet. I’m a murderer who finger-combs his hair and tells him he’s beautiful. I drink blood yet live for his laugh. I stalked him and now, I love him.

I am sucked into the music, the raging battle my beloved boy has translated into chords and keys. Before long, I’m on my knees beside the piano bench. Timmy doesn’t notice because he rarely notices the surrounding world when he plays. He told me once it’s like being underwater—only, you know, in a soothing, peaceful not-drowning way. 

By the time he hits the last note, I feel the blood on my face. I haven’t cried since my mother died, and yet, here I am, on my knees, crying over a Christmas gift.

Timmy notices me, and he doesn’t ask what’s wrong. He just slides to the floor, straddling my knees. He wraps me in a hug and rocks me like a big, bawling baby. I try not to get blood on his sweater, but it’s a losing battle what with the way he clings me close. 

“I see you,” he says, and I sob a little bit harder because no one else ever has.

Chapter Text

The bed is empty when I wake up. I know because, with eye still closed, I fucking check. I drag one of my “caveman arms” (Timmy’s words) up and down the length of the damn thing, and guess what? No Timmy. I grumble over the sound of rustling fabric and lift my head.

Timmy is fully dressed—Jesus, his ass looks good in those jeans—and stuffing papers into his messenger bag. It’s just after eight AM.

Ass.

Jeans.

I need his ass out of those jeans right now. 

“What the fuck are you doing?” I ask. 

“Cheerful,” he mutters, pausing to look at some sheet music before shoving it also into his bag.

“Timmy, seriously, why are you dressed?”

“I have a piano lesson.”

I lean up on my elbow and rub my eyes. “You don’t need lessons. You’re perfect.”

“Ha, no.” He searches around the master bedroom for … oh, a sweater. As a vampire, he could walk around perfectly fine in nothing but that thin, gray t-shirt (mm, thin, gray t-shirt), but I guess it’s only proper ex-human etiquette to actually wear something warm considering it’s gotta be ten degrees outside. I swear I feel the chill through my windows.

Timmy drags on an oversized navy blue monstrosity that I’m throwing out as soon as he takes it off. I swear, this kid—trying to teach him some style, okay? It’s going to be a process. Maybe it’ll come with age.

He slings his bag over one shoulder and comes back to the bed to kiss me.

Which is when I realize he actually thinks he’s going somewhere.

“Whoa, whoa.” I toss the sheets back and leap out of bed. “Hang on. You’re really going to a piano lesson the day after Christmas?”

He shrugs up at me. “I haven’t seen Luca in a week.”

“You saw Luca last night. Thoroughly.” We fucked on my Steinway. Like, a lot.

His forehead wrinkles and relaxes when he laughs. “Oh, no, my piano teacher’s name is Luca. I just named your piano the same thing because it reminded me of him.”

I push a curl behind his ear. “Made of wood?”

“No, dude. Like … old and polished.” He goes up on his toes to kiss my cheek, but when he tries to spin around, I latch onto his upper arm. He screeches to a halt. “Armie, what the hell?”

I let go because I think I’m holding his tiny bicep way too hard. “Um.” I wish I wasn’t only wearing skin and morning wood, but needs must. “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way.”

His chin dips back toward his neck like he’s already prepared to take this the wrong way.

“Don’t fucking look at me like that,” I snap.

He crosses his arms. “Well, don’t open conversations like that.”

I sigh. “Look, I don’t trust you by yourself right now.”

He looks like he’s going to say “what,” his lips even beginning to form the word, but he doesn’t. He just waits.

“You’re a new vampire and you might get …”

He waits some more.

“Bitey.”

“Bitey?”

“Yeah.”

He opens his mouth and gazes around the room as though looking for spiders in every corner. “You’re saying I might attack someone?”

I sit on the edge of the bed, no longer scared of him fleeing into the daylight. He’s frozen to the spot and listening. “It’s possible.”

He pulls the cuffs down on his sweater, covering his hands—a nervous tic. “I could never attack someone,” he whispers.

“You’d be surprised.”

“But-but we were out on Christmas Eve and—” 

“I know.” I stand again and put my hands on his shoulders because he’s getting agitated. Want to know how I know? He’s on his toes like a ballerina. “But you were with me and distracted by Christmas trees and shit. Don’t freak out, but you’re going to start noticing the scent of blood.” 

His chin actually quivers. “You’re saying I might hurt people?”

“Okay, chill.” I guide him back to the bed—our bed—and sit him on the edge at my side with my arm securely around his slumped shoulders. “I really don’t think you, in particular, are going to hurt anyone.” I kiss the side of his forehead and just leave my mouth there because it feels good. “I want to be cautious the first couple weeks is all.”

He leans into my touch, and I don’t think he even notices the subconscious way his body always seeks mine. “I couldn’t hurt anyone.” He curls his fist. “I don’t even know how to throw a punch.”

I chuckle. “Kid, you’re a vampire now. You don’t need to throw punches to kick someone’s ass.”

“I don’t feel any stronger.” 

“You would if you needed to be.” I leave wet kisses down the side of his face. “What time is your piano lesson?”

He plucks at the buckle on his bag. “Probably going to be late at this point.”

I give his shoulders a squeeze and stand. “Let me get dressed.”

***

Unsurprisingly, Timmy’s piano lesson is not in the dusty, old NYU building on the edge of campus but in a shiny, new building with private rehearsal spaces on all floors, dependent on the instrument. Seriously, it’s like a museum in here. I’m almost scared to touch anything, and I’m wearing Louis Vuitton.

Timmy walks in front of me, all long legs and nervous energy, which is when I notice he needs more shoes. I do love the leather ankle boots he has on today, but I want to get him some Louboutins. Timmy with a red sole would be sinful.

Well, he’s already sinful. Timmy with a red sole would be goddamn corrupt.

He pauses outside a closed door and takes a deep breath. 

“You okay?” I ask.

“I don’t know.” He chews his lip, and I don’t fault him for it like usual. He deserves a nervous nibble right now. He’s vibrating with anxiety. “What do I tell Luca?”

“You don’t have to tell him anything. It’s not like this teacher of yours can look at you and know you’re a vampire.”

He wipes his palms down the front of his coat—an Armani he borrowed from me that’s too big and yet somehow totally works on his small frame. “Right. Okay.” He nods. “Right.” And pushes through the door.

As soon as I step inside the small, brightly lit rehearsal space, I smell something distinctly unexpected. Yep, I smell a goddamn witch.

Well, fuck.

A guy stands from where, moments ago, he perched on the edge of a piano bench. He stands with such vehemence, the bench almost falls over, but Timmy catches it first.

The dude isn’t really “old” like Timmy said—older, I guess—but he is polished. He’s got a big, bald head with sort of wild, black hair and a perfectly trimmed gray-black beard with brown eyes that’d make a serial killer confess all his sins. He stares at Timmy, glances at me, back to Timmy.

Then, he says his name, but it sounds funny, like “Teemy,” and gently reaches his long-fingered (piano player’s) hands out to cup Timmy’s face. “My darling boy. What happened to you?”

“Armie?” Timmy’s voice shakes. 

“He’s a witch,” I say as this guy—Luca—turns Timmy’s head from left to right, getting a good look at him, I guess. Who knows what witches see?

“You’re … what?” The last word comes out as a shout, and Timmy brushes Luca’s hands away. “Luca?”

“It does not matter.” Luca glares at me with the fury only true Italians can muster. Trust me; I’ve dated several. “What did you do to him?”

Timmy puts his arm on il maestro’s arm. “He saved my life. Luca, I was dying, okay? Armie saved me.”

Luca steps between me and the man I love. “And now, the boy belongs to you, heh?”

I try not to growl. “Careful, old man.”

“Armie,” Timmy squeaks, because shit, my fangs are out.

I’m probably about to be zapped. I haven’t crossed paths with a witch in ages, and of course, Timmy’s teacher would be one because the universe mostly hates me.

“Armie, just go out in the hallway please,” Timmy says, tugging on the back of Luca’s suit coat, which I admit, is pretty damn stylish.

“I’m not leaving you alone with him,” I argue. “He could hex you or something.”

Luca is already tall, but I swear he gets taller. Some witch hoodoo shit. “I would never hurt him. Can you say the same?”

 “Yes,” I bark.

“Armie, please,” Timmy begs. “I’ll be okay. Just give us a couple minutes. Please?”

Oh, he knows damn well hot to work those eyes. It’s a deadly combo of eyes-lashes-brows. Add a dash of parted lips, and I’m putty in his hands.

I throw my hands in the air. “Fine. Fucking witches,” I mutter on the way out.

I stand right outside the door. I can even see inside through a tall, thin window, but of course everything is sound proof because it’s a music building. I can’t hear them talking as they sit side by side on the piano bench, but—after Timmy’s earlier irritation and Luca’s wrath—the whole thing is creepily calm. You’d think they were discussing Dickinson’s poetry.

Luca is annoyingly handsy, by the way, but okay, he’s Italian. And he’s probably known Timmy for years. And I should just shut the fuck up because it’s not like Timmy is leaving me for this older dude. Plus, I get it. I love touching Timmy, too—his hair, his cute pointy chin, his slim shoulders. All the touching seems to be Luca’s form of communication. That or he’s casting a spell.

No, shut up, Armie. He’s not casting a spell.

Luca said he wouldn’t hurt Timmy, and if Timmy trusts the guy, I guess I have to also. Again, though, fucking witches. I was not expecting that. What a way to kill my happy post-Christmas buzz.

After ten minutes (that frankly feel like ten hours), Timmy and Luca share this big, huge hug and Luca gives him a grand kiss on the cheek. Once they disengage from this European show of oversentimentality—and seriously, I’m originally European; it’s still gross—Timmy waves me inside.

They both jump a little, possibly because I arrive with untamed vampire speed. “Sorry.” I close the door carefully behind me. “Uh, everything okay?”

Luca stands and approaches. “Everything is fine.” He grabs my head, probably to twist it off, but no: he kisses both cheeks once, twice, and smiles at me. “You are going to marry Teemy?”

I peer over Luca’s shoulder, and Timmy just snorts and raises his hands in the air, clueless.

“Um. Sure.” I button my coat in order to shift my shoulders to get Luca to stop gripping my head. “What kind of witch are you anyway?” 

He bows with a flourish. “Spiritual. I feel things.” He smacks me in the chest over my dead heart. “Today, Teemy … he feels the same but different. Still love and laughter but …” He tilts his hand back and forth. “He is a newborn, learning himself again. I feel that rebirth. And you.” Those way too scrutinizing brown eyes scrutinize. “You were a very bad man before Teemy. He makes you better, yes?”

Pretty sure I make the room colder with my smirk. “I’m still a bad man.”

Luca, the bastard, laughs. Not the expected outcome. “Yes, but Teemy likes that about you. Maybe you work together, no? Dare e prendere. The give and take. He gives you love and takes away your rage.” 

I clench my jaw over all this soppy bull shit. “Oh, I’ll show you rage.” 

“Jesus, Armie,” Timmy says.

“What? He’s talking like a goddamn gypsy!” 

Luca takes hold of my face like he did with “Teemy” earlier, gently, but my vision goes when he does it. In my mind, I travel over centuries, rapidly reliving all the people I’ve killed. I hear their screams and taste their blood. I feel their warm entrails in the palm of my hand. I flail and end up shoving Luca’s magic hands the hell off my face.

I gasp for air and fall back against the closed door. I hear Timmy yell at Luca before he’s in my arms, holding me, asking if I’m all right. He keeps repeating my name, petting my chest, my face … 

I hug him and bury my nose in his hair. “I’m fine, Timmy.” But I glare at Luca.

He just folds his fingers behind him and smiles.

Mother. Fucking. Witches.

Chapter Text

I can’t believe he makes me sit through an entire rehearsal—and no, I’m not talking about Luca. Timmy insists we stay. He says he needs the practice. Needs the practice? The kid is a fucking marvel. He doesn’t need practice.

I need to get out of here, out of this tiny room, smashed together with a piano and a witch. After an hour of (admittedly) impressive playing, I’m ready to toss Timmy over my shoulder, give Luca a middle-fingered salute, and get the fuck home.

Luckily, before that happens, Luca says something to Timmy in Italian. Timmy nods, because apparently he knows Italian now? Jesus, what can’t he do? 

Cartwheels. I bet Timmy can’t do cartwheels. Picturing his appendages flailing in the air before an epic wipeout makes me chuckle, but the musicians with their eloquent fingers and their Italian are too focused to notice.

Timmy reaches for his discarded coat on the back of the piano and starts putting it on, giving Luca yet another opportunity to harass … ah-hem … talk to me. “How did he sound?” He nods at Timmy, who’s pretending to ignore us. I know he isn’t. Head tipped down as he adjusts the coat collar, his gaze watches us warily.

“He’s perfect,” I say. 

“Nothing is perfect, Armie.”

“Yeah, well, he is.”

Timmy tries to hide his smile by putting on his messenger bag, but I see it—that and a slight shake of his head.

“I trust the paranormal registry gave you no problems?” Luca asks.

Timmy freezes and gives off a nervous scent. That and the scent of witch, but that’s probably because I’m standing right in front of one. Timmy stutters. “W-well, we … with the holiday, I didn’t … um …”

Il maestro sighs. “Do it soon,” Luca says to me. “Wouldn’t want the registry finding out by accident. And you shouldn’t worry about the legal ramifications. There were …” He sniffs and looks at the floor. “How do you say … ‘mitigating circumstances?’”

Um, I don’t know what he’s talking about, but then again, I don’t know the legal ins and outs of the paranormal registry. I know it’s generally illegal to turn a human into a vampire, but I do know there are “mitigating circumstances.” Just not sure what they are, okay? I nod nonetheless, really just to get us away from the studio, away from Luca.

Home. I want Timmy safe at home.

I’m doing nothing but glaring until Timmy takes hold of my coat and tugs me toward the door. “Okay, thanks, Luca.”

The polished, Italian dude folds his hands behind his back and lifts his chin with a smile. “You will be in class Monday. Well fed, of course.”

“Of course.” Timmy nods like a bobble head as if there wasn’t a slightly veiled threat in those words. “Armie, let’s …” He tugs on my coat some more.

I don’t like how Luca suggests I’m not feeding my beloved creation, so I flash him a big grin, fangs and all, and feel a certain level of glee when he takes a startled step back. “See ya, Luca,” I growl before Timmy drags me the hell out of there using every bit of his preternatural strength.

Still latched onto my arm, he stomps down the hallway and waves at a couple students who look at me like they wanna take a bite. Yeah, I know I’m handsome, folks, but I only have eyes—and hands and a mouth and, well, et cetera—for one guy. And that guy doesn't smell right.

In a mostly deserted hallway, I see a shadowy alcove, and now, it’s me who does the dragging. I spin Timmy around and press his back to the wall before rubbing my face across his cheek. 

“Armie, wh—” 

“You smell like that witch. You should smell like me.” I rub my face harder against his throat and even shove the top of his shirt away to get at his collarbone.

Meanwhile, his hands push against me. “Dude, razor burn, ow.”

“It’ll heal in twenty minutes.” I open my mouth and suck the skin behind his ear, beneath his ear, down the side of his neck. My hands slink under his coat and sweater and claw at the soft flesh of his tummy and sides.

“Arm—” He keeps trying to push me away. It’s a battle of hands and Timmy turning his head right and left. “Armie … stop.” But it’s a breathless plea.

I dig a hand into his hair and tug his head back. He glares down his nose at me, brow furrowed, but pink lips parted and wet. “I want his smell off you. Witches smell like mildew and rotting grass.” And maybe I’m not being fair. Witches really smell (generally) like old books and fresh herbs. It’s not a bad smell at all, but right now, the smell is seriously grossing me out because it’s so not Timmy. Timmy is sandalwood and sweet smoke. 

And oh! There's that shaky inhale he does when he’s embarrassed about being turned on. Got ya, babe. 

I leer in response to the sound, and Timmy must have an “Armie’s Bad Idea” radar because he shakes his head, even with his hair still in my grip. “No, not here. Armie, come on, please.” 

“I love when you beg.” 

His Adam’s apple bounces. “No, no, no, no.” His fingers press fruitlessly against my chest. “We’ll just go home.” 

My mouth makes a squeaking noise when I give my own bottom lip a loud suck. “Nope, I want you here.”

“This is my school,” he whines, trying to shimmy out of my grip. Good luck with that.

I press the entire length of my body against him—including the entire length of my rock hard dick. “Then. It should smell like you.”

“Christ …” he whimpers.

I run my thumb across his cheekbone. “Find me a place to fuck you, or I’ll do it right here in this hall." 

“Shi-i-i-t.” His tiny laugh is wedged between lust and disbelief. When he leans his head forward, I let go of his curls but keep my fingers tangled in the edges of his hair. He pushes me away, and I let him as he looks left and right. “Armie, all the rehearsal rooms have windows.”

“So we’ll keep the lights off.” I kiss him, and his mouth opens for me. Of course it does. Vampires don’t have super sexy powers; I have super sexy powers, and considering I’m the best fuck the kid has ever had (his words), I’m pretty damn hard to resist, especially when my hands reach down and squeeze his ass.

He moans.

“God, you’re such a bottom.”

He makes this adorably putout noise.

“I’m not complaining.” I sigh, “My sweet treat. Now. Should I get on my knees and suck you right here, or …”

“No, stop, just …” He’s trying to look annoyed, but the lust haze in his eyes belies any irritation. I don’t even think he realizes he has the fabric of my coat clenched in his fist. “Come here.”

Our only contact is that fist in my coat, but I follow willingly. Already, the witchy scent of Luca has dissipated, but I need more. I want Timmy to smell like me everywhere.

He finds a darkened room and walks inside. It’s pitch black but for the glimmer of fluorescent light streaming through the tiny window in the door. Which doesn’t lock, apparently. There’s no little button to push or tab to turn.

“Damn.”

“What?” he asks.

“No lock." 

“Armie, let’s just go—” He tries to reach around me for the door, but I snatch his wrist, twist it behind his back, and thrust him face-first against the wall. Using my free hand, I lift the messenger bag off his shoulders while simultaneously kicking his legs apart.

“I’m sure,” I whisper, “if you’re very quiet, no one will notice we’re here.”

He rests his forehead against the wall and claws at it as though I’m already balls deep.

Standing up sex has never been my favorite. It takes a lot of balance, focus, and skill, and although I possess all those things, Timmy doesn’t. He’s graceful, sure, but he’s also arguably ADD and occasionally, in the thralls of sex, loses control of his knees and elbows. Luckily, vampire bruises heal fast. In other words, wall sex could be downright dangerous.

Sadly, we don’t have much choice. Now that my eyes have adjusted, a quick study of the room reveals nothing but a few chairs and music stands. I guess this is where students with smaller instruments practice. No piano here—which reminds me, we had sex on “Luca” last night. Gross. Timmy is definitely renaming my Steinway.

I let go of his twisted wrist and speak right against his ear so I can feel him tremble when I say, “Take off your pants.” 

He does as told, underwear, too. Good boy. The fabric pools around his ankles on top of his boots.

Hmm, yeah, fucking is just going to be too much work. Doesn’t mean we can’t still have oodles of fun. I run two of my fingers over his bottom lip until he gets the message, even faced away from me. He sucks my digits into his mouth and licks until they’re wet. I dislodge from the comfortable cavern of his mouth, and he lets my fingers go with a pop before I immediately tease my fingers down the crack of his ass.

His breath trembles again as he folds his arms on the wall above his head.

I pause. “Timmy?”

“I feel like this is going to hurt.”

I take a deep inhale of the scent of his neck. “Babe, I’m not going to fuck you.”

“Really? I—”

I press just the tip of one finger to his hole, and his words break off into a low hum.

“Shhhh … quiet.”

His gulp, like, echoes through the small, dark room. It sounds like he’s holding his breath when I stick my finger further inside and play with him.

“Timmy, breathe.”

He shakes his head, curls bobbing.

“Do you want me to cover your mouth?”

He nods against the wall, and the mere suggestion has him pressing his ass back further toward me. My finger sinks deeper, and I catch a low groan in the palm of my hand as I cover his lips. Now, I feel his puffs of breath against my fingers as he breathes through his nose and tries so hard to be good for me.

I stroke his hole and stretch it a little. I graze his prostate a couple times until he’s literally biting at my fingers—with his baby vamp teeth. Dead blood drips from my hand, but fuck it. Who cares?

Despite how good one finger must feel to him, there’s no way in hell we’re banging right now, nope. We need lube and an hour because, let’s face it, even though we’ve screwed a million times, I still have a huge cock and Timmy is still built like a scarecrow sans stuffing. Sure, he can take me when he’s ready; he’s told me he likes how big I am, how he loves the fullness, the stretch—but not right now. No, right now, I would literally just hurt him, and my number one rule in this undead life: Don’t Hurt Timmy.

His clever tongue licks at the bite marks he’s just made in my hand.

“Touch yourself.” I kiss up the side of his neck.

He grunts when he does and presses his full face against the wall, my hand along with it.

“I want you to get close three times and stop.”

He lifts his face and tries talking with my hand over his mouth. I pull his head back roughly against my shoulder so his eyes are on the ceiling. I push my finger deeper in his ass; his knees go out, and I have to hold on tight until his legs work again. Still, he’s tense against me, fighting my orders.

“Timmy?”

I feel his arm move as he starts jerking himself off. From this vantage point, I can even look over his shoulder and watch, although his pale hand and flushed dick are mostly just a blur in this light. 

His chest heaves with every breath as I finger him—then, he freezes, so I do, too. His shoulders lift and lower against me. 

“That’s one,” I whisper.

It’s a full thirty seconds before he touches himself again and I continue torturing his pretty ass. Just for fun—because he likes it—and because I’m a jerk—I bite into the side of his neck. His high-pitched words are lost in the palm of my hand, but I know he’s stopped touching himself again because he shoves at my arm until I pull my fangs out and let him talk.

“Yes?” I ask, the voice of innocence. 

“You’re cheating. You’re—” His words become a whimper when I press a finger right against his prostate and keep it there.

“I could do this all fucking day.” 

He rubs his face against mine. “Why do I feel like I’m being punished because my teacher is a witch?” 

“Punished?” I nibble his earlobe. “I’ve never punished you before. But maybe later.”

I can’t explain the visceral sex appeal of Timmy’s squeak-whimper. Just take my word for it; it’s the hottest thing I’ve ever heard.

“Make yourself come,” I say.

“But, you said—”

“Forget what I said. Third time’s the charm. Go on.” I mean, he’s right; I originally told him to almost come three times and stop. I was going to let him shoot at four because Timmy doesn’t like odd numbers, but I’m selfish and can’t wait anymore. I want to feel him fall apart.

So with my chest pressed to his back, my finger up his ass, and my hand over his mouth, Timmy comes after three quick pulls on his dick. His spine curves forward, and his head thumps against the wall as he comes and quivers until I’m … 

Jesus, yep, just came in my pants, and all I was doing was rutting against his hip. This gorgeous kid has officially turned me into a teenager. 

We both slump to the floor, a pile of limbs and soft kisses. His arms slip around me and just hold. I cup his bare ass—pants still around his ankles—and lift him onto my lap because the rough carpet can’t be comfortable. (It’s probably something to help with acoustics, but I will not let it chafe my perfect peach.)

He smushes his face against the side of my neck. “Did you seriously just come in your pants?”

My big, fat laugh surprises even me. “Maybe.”

“Why?” His voice sounds sleepy as his fingertips poke my chin. 

“I get off on dominating you. I get off on you losing control.”

He doesn’t say anything, just lifts my hand and licks at my dried blood. The wounds from his fangs are already healed as he cleans me up. He sucks one of my fingers all the way into his mouth and practically down his throat.

“Fucking hell,” I whisper.

Honest to God, I’m not sure who’s dominating whom anymore.

Chapter Text

We put ourselves back together (somehow) and make it onto the cold streets of Manhattan not looking (completely) like two dudes who just reek of sex. I mean, I came in my pants. What the hell?

I blame Timmy. Of course, I blame Timmy. No one I’ve ever fucked has gotten into my body and soul like this. Nobody has made me this insane with want. I should have known, God, months ago that I was in over my head. I should have looked into those green eyes as he stumbled into me at the coffee shop and thought, “Run, Armie. Run for your immortal life.”

The kid has me under his thumb. And, to think, I’m supposedly the dominant one?

A couple steps ahead of me, Timmy adjusts the over-sized winter coat that belongs to me. The largeness doesn’t seem to bother him. Based on some of his clothes, I think Timmy likes drowning in fabric—a disembodied embrace. He does love to cuddle. Maybe his baggy sweaters, my huge coat, comfort him. I guess I won’t throw away his worn navy blue sweater after all. I admit, he looks cute in it, albeit younger. Yeah, like I need a reminder of how young he is.

He says something about Luca, how he “should have known,” and goes on this tirade about how Luca always seemed to “know things,” like if Timmy was upset or happy or had just broken up with some douchebag.

I’m so busy enjoying the sound of his voice that I don’t notice Timmy has stopped walking in the mouth of an alley. I run into him, but he doesn’t budge. Back when he was human, he would have been road kill. As a vampire, he’s barely jostled as he stares and stares and stares into that alley where the sun shines dimly between snow-heavy clouds. 

“Timmy, what—”

His right eye twitches, and ooooooookaaaaaay, I’ve never seen that expression before. Jesus Christ, did the temperature drop twenty degrees? Timmy’s jaw is clenched so tight, I think his teeth might break. His eyebrows are one thick caterpillar across his brow. He’s Pissed, capital P. Pi-i-i-i-issed.

I follow his gaze and recognize a once beautiful Armani coat with a fur collar, but the arms have been cut off and it’s stained by … God knows. Old food maybe? Motor oil? Whatever. All I know is, I get why Timmy looks like he’s about to turn green and “Hulk” the fuck out of somebody.

The homeless guy digging in the dumpster is wearing the coat I bought Timmy, which means this homeless guy stabbed the man I love and left him for dead. Which means ... 

I stomp toward the bastard and feel Timmy right on my heels. I grab homeless asshat by the back of the Armani coat, destroyed because he’s bigger than Timmy. No way this chubby motherfucker’s shoulders could have fit within the careful tailoring of a coat made for someone delicate like my Timmy.

I yank the dude backwards and spin him around. He blubbers a shocked “Whathefuck” before getting a look at me and chuckling. “What the hell you want, pretty boy?”

Okay, I get it: I could be considered a pretty boy with the blond hair-blue eyes thing. Plus my expensive duds. But, nah, I’m no pretty boy. I’m a lethal predator, and this guy almost took everything from me. I’m about to unleash my fangs when I hear Timmy’s voice, saying my name with volume and force. I keep my fist tangled in the pilfered coat—that beautiful coat—and look over my shoulder.

Homeless dude must follow my gaze, because when he spots Timmy, nervously playing with the buttons on his messenger bag, he says, “You. Mouthy beanpole kid.” His full-body laugh jangles like rusty keys and smells like booze. “Thought you’d be dead.” 

“I am,” Timmy says. He smiles and reveals his fangs.

The homeless guy stops laughing. “Aw, damn, kid, I didn’t mean nothing.” 

Timmy makes a disturbing sound I’ve never heard. Best I can describe it: a single judgmental chuckle that has me blinking at him because, shit, since when was Timmy terrifying? 

He steps up to my side, lips parted, fangs still hanging out. He reaches a single finger out and pokes the fur collar that once belonged to him. “I’ve never wanted to kill someone before.”

The guy shakes his head so much that he shakes me. “Naw, naw, you don’t wanna do that.”

I draw back a bit, allow Timmy some space, and realize I’m hard. Jesus, I’m a monster. The thought of Timmy killing someone should not make me hard—but there’s something about the duality of my beloved that I find thrilling. He can be so damn soft one second: soft hair, soft angles, and a soft smile. Then, a moment later, he’s darkened eyes, cliff-edge cheekbones, and six feet of sex. I don’t know how he manages it, but I’m hooked on both sides of Timmy. I want both the soft and the sultry.

And now, I want him to tear this thieving bastard to shreds.

Timmy reaches out one of his pale, delicate hands and touches the man’s cheek. The man recoils … and so does Timmy. “I’m not going to kill you,” he whispers.

Homeless dude and I speak at the same time: “What?!” 

“Armie.” Timmy chews the inside of his lip and kicks at a piece of trash. “I can’t kill anyone.” 

I curl my fists in the remnants of Armani. The whole dumpster jerks when I shove my soon-to-be victim against it. “Well. I can.”

Distantly, I feel Timmy’s hand on my arm. I look over my shoulder at him, my fangs already out. I’m practically drooling with the smell of revenge.

“Armie. Don’t?”

“Are you fucking kidding? This guy almost …” I swallow around the sudden lump in my throat. This guy almost took you away from me. Forever. Doesn’t Timmy get that? 

“I get it,” he says, and he really does. I can see the pain in his eyes and the way blood tears threaten at the edges. “I don’t want you killing people anymore, okay?”

What? Really? Seriously? I’ve killed people for centuries, and he wants me to stop? Great, now I’m thinking about Luca and his stupid gypsy nonsense. “He gives you love and takes away your rage.”

Fuck, I hate when witches are right.

“Look,” Timmy says. “I have a better idea.” 

*** 

I’m pacing like a caged lion. Better idea, Timmy? Christ. Things just got way too complicated. 

I clocked the homeless dude earlier, so he’s knocked out in a rank puddle, awaiting our next move. Good for him. I’m jealous of his unconsciousness. 

Timmy is on the phone, FaceTiming with Saoirse, who’s in Ireland through the New Year. I should have known this day would suck when I woke without Timmy in my bed.

“Legally speaking,” she says, “Armie will be fine. According to the vampire-human bylaws, a vampire is allowed to turn a human if the human has been fatally attacked. It’s a mercy loophole. If the human is dying of sudden, unnatural causes, a vampire can intercede.”

I loom over Timmy’s shoulder. “Are you reading from a legal textbook right now?”

Even sitting on a fluffy bed in Ireland, Saoirse’s glare feels like a cold breeze. “I’m trying to help, asshole.”

Yeah, with the paranormal registry—because Timmy’s “better idea” is taking the homeless dude to the authorities and having him arrested for attempted murder or assault or something like that. However, in order to turn the homeless dude over to the authorities, we’ll have to explain that Timmy was his would-be victim and that Timmy is now not dead but, instead, an unregistered paranormal creature, turned possibly illegally by another paranormal creature—although, listening to Saoirse (who apparently looked all this up) I did nothing illegal.

And I have a witness, even if she is sitting on a fluffy bed in Ireland.

“Okay, okay.” Timmy nods. “So we take this guy into the police station, explain what happened, I get registered, and everything should be fine.” He keeps nodding.

Saoirse shrugs. “In theory.”

“In theory?” I shout.

She smacks her bed, and the picture on Timmy’s cell phone jiggles. “Armie, Jesus, this is all so new. Paranormal creatures have only been out for a few years. The legal ramifications are still gray area!” 

I am taken over by a shocking surge of terror. I grab Timmy by the hips and wrap my arms around him from behind, burying my face in his neck. “I’m not going to jail. I’m not leaving him.”

“Armie.” Saoirse sounds the way she did the night I turned Timmy. She sounds contrite, maybe even sweet. “You’re not going to jail. You did the right thing, and I can attest to it. I was there. Timmy would be dead without you. I’ll defend you ‘til my dying day.”

Timmy’s hand reaches up and tangles in my hair, pulling me into a backwards hug.

Saoirse sighs. “All right, so pick up that monstrous man from the alley and turn him over to the police. Call me from the station; I’ll be your witness. Same goes for your paranormal registration. I can witness that, too. Just get it done. Get it over with. It’s gonna be okay, Armie.”

“I hate that you’re comforting me,” I say against Timmy’s collar. 

“Well, I hate having to do it, you great big baby of a man!”

“God, you guys are so annoying together,” Timmy says, and we both scoff, but he just keeps talking. “We’ll call you from the police station, okay?” 

***

The police station smells like way too many dirty people, including the stinking lump I drag in, still limp like a rag doll. It stinks so much, I shove my nose into Timmy’s hair and just breathe before approaching a middle-aged female officer who stands at the front desk.

“Excuse me.” I drop homeless dude on the floor, and he groans. “I’d like to report a stabbing.”

The female officer glances at the mewling body on the floor and then lifts an eyebrow at me. “Who was stabbed?”

I nod at Timmy. “Him. By this asshole. But I turned him into a vampire, so can you please arrest this motherfucker before I do something awful?”

Timmy face-palms at my side. 

***

They put us in a little room with a mirror window, so I know they’re watching. I can feel them watching. Wonder if Timmy can, too. I assume the answer is yes, because he picks nervously at the cuff of his coat until I fold our fingers together and squeeze.

We go over all the stabbing details with a stereotypical TV cop: tall and unrealistically handsome, but at least his good looks seem to calm Timmy down. The kid has a thing for aesthetics.

We call Saoirse, and everything is confirmed. They’re charging “Edward Monty” (homeless dude) with aggravated assault, which should keep him behind bars for a long, long time. Then, we’re moved to another small room with a mirror window on a different floor—offices of the paranormal registry. Jesus, I feel like I’m in Harry Potter and half expect Dumbledore to show up.

Don’t look at me like that. I know some pop culture, okay? And those books aren’t just for kids, all right? Damn.

Dumbledore does not (sadly) show up, but a werewolf does because OF COURSE.

Timmy sits bolt upright when the guy walks in. He’s not in, like, full moon werewolf state, with hairy face and wolf teeth. He looks like a human, but he does not smell like one. Witches have a weak scent, which is why Timmy didn’t notice Luca. Werewolves, well, their scent fills a room: mud and midnight and roast beef.

This tall werewolf with librarian glasses looks at Timmy and holds his hand up. “Hey, I’m Toby. It’s okay.”

That’s when the smell of Timmy’s fear permeates the cloud of wolf. I put an arm around his shoulders. “Timmy, it’s all right.”

Toby’s bespectacled gaze finds me. “His first time near a werewolf?”

I want to snap at the guy because I’m irritated to be here, irritated Timmy is upset, but I nod instead, because we need to stay on Toby-the-Werewolf’s good side. 

Toby pulls the chair out across the table from us and sits gingerly like he doesn’t wanna spook Timmy anymore than he already has. The gesture is honestly appreciated. “So I’m Toby, and you’re Timothee and Armie.”

“Just Timmy is fine,” he whispers. 

“Okay. And Armie saved your life?”

Timmy pushes hair behind his ear. “Yeah.”

Toby makes a note in his leather bound notepad. “And you knew each other prior to the attack?”

Timmy nods. “Armie was my boyfriend.”

Well, I don’t know that we ever used that word, did we? I can’t even remember. I just thought of Timmy as mine

Great, now Toby is giving me the what-were-you-thinking look because, all right, wolf man, I know: vampires aren’t supposed to date humans because turning them can be too tempting. Because I’m an asshole, I feel the need to defend myself.

“I was never going to turn him. In fact, I broke up with Timmy right before … before Monty whoever decided to stick a knife in him, okay? It’s a good thing I was nearby when it happened.”

Timmy puts a hand over mine.

“I know,” Toby says. “I just spoke to Saoirse.” Of course, this tool bag pronounces her name perfectly. I’m French, so “Timothee” was piece of cake, but “Saoirse?” God help me. I’m frankly annoyed at how not annoying wolf man is. “I assume you’re living together now?” Toby leans forward so he can see Timmy, who’s currently hiding behind his hair. “Armie keeping an eye on you?”

The kid nods but doesn’t make eye contact. He’s still radiating low-key fear.

“You don’t need to be scared of me.”

Timmy chuckles, and I know what’s coming because he said the same thing to me once before. “You can’t just tell me not to be scared and expect it to work.” 

Toby smiles, and you can see the werewolf in his huge, white teeth. “All right then, let’s talk about the availability of your blood supply.”

***

In the elevator, Timmy climbs me until his arms are around my neck and his legs around my waist. With him still suspended in my grip, his face buried in my neck, I unlock the door to our condo and walk inside. I put our things down on the kitchen island—the keys, Timmy’s messenger bag, paranormal registry paperwork that took an hour—and just hold him.

“Shh, just calm down.”

He’s still terrified. Maybe stressed. He’s giving off all these unpleasant scents like worry, panic, unease … He squeezes me even tighter and doesn’t make a sound, so I walk to the couch and sit with him wrapped all around me. He won’t let go.

“Timmy, talk to me. What’s going on?”

“Werewolves stink,” he mutters.

“Yeah, well. I don’t think you’re upset about your olfactory sensitivity right now.”

He shakes his head, and his nose rubs against the underside of my jaw.

“Then, what is it?”

“I kept waiting for them to take you away.”

I sigh. “I would never let that happen.”

“It wasn’t real until we got there, but by then, we couldn’t turn back. It was too late. I’m sorry I made you go.”

I rub my hand up and down his knobby spine. “Don’t apologize.” 

“I just wanted to do the right thing.” 

“We did.”

He shivers a little. I think he’s trying to hold back tears. 

“Everything’s okay now, right? We’re home safe.” I nudge his forehead with my chin in an effort to get him to look at me, but he just hunkers down further against my body, using me like an emotional shield.

He shakily whispers, “Please don’t leave me."

I huff into his hair. “As if I ever could.”

Chapter Text

He’s been acting … off. He’s still Timmy. I mean, he looks like Timmy. He fucks like Timmy. He sticks his little baby fangs into my neck when he’s bored like Timmy.

He’s been quieter than usual, though, except for that one day when he made all the phone calls to tell his friends he’s now an immortal blood-sucker. He forbid me from coming into the guest bedroom for the duration of those understandably awkward chats, so I watched college football and pretended to care who won. 

Is Timmy sad? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him sad. Pissed off? Yep. Bleeding out in an alley? Sure. But sad? I don’t know what “Sad Timmy” looks like, so maybe this is him, the past couple days: quiet and puttering around the house in wool socks and barely playing piano and drinking all the blood in the fridge. (Annoyingly, he leaves dirty cups everywhere.)

Now, it’s New Year’s Eve, and here I sit in my living room, dressed and ready, while I await my pouting prince. I wear a navy blue Armani suit, one of Timmy’s admitted favorites, with slim fit Dolce & Gabbana underneath. I can practically see my own reflection in my polished dress shoes. I have no idea where we’re spending midnight; Timmy has planned everything. He even disappeared into the city alone for a little while this afternoon and came back with a mysterious box under his arm. 

Yeah, I’ve been letting him go out alone lately. Ever since he declined to kill the guy who almost killed him, I’ve realized Timmy is a special sort of vampire. He’ll never be the wolf but always the lamb. I like that about him. Or love it. Vampires often lose their innocence once turned, but Timmy hasn’t, and it was partially his innocence that drew me to his door. I love fucking with innocence, and no matter how many times we’ve screwed, there’s still something so pure about Timmy, with his pale skin, green eyes, and tiny freckle constellations that I discover anew and map every night. I’m the earth to his sky.

Spread out across me, baby.

It’s almost 10:30 on New Year’s Eve, and I’m not exactly the king of patience, so I walk to the master bedroom and try the knob. Locked, as I expected. 

“I’m almost ready,” Timmy shouts.

“Are you okay?" 

“What? Sure.” He sounds distracted like he’s talking while doing math equations.

“You’ve been acting weird lately.” I rattle the knob.

“Armie, stop! I told you, I’m almost ready.” 

“Why have you been acting weird?” I thump my head against the door once.

There’s an ocean of silence before he speaks again, this time closer to the locked door. “It doesn’t matter.”

“It matters to me.”

He groans, and I hear the click-click of new dress shoes on hardwood. When he speaks again, his voice is far away—near the full-length mirror in the corner if I had to guess. “I don’t like this time of year.”

“What?” I thump my head against the door again and leave it there as if I could push my whole body through by will alone. Sadly, vampires aren’t quite that cool. “You loved Christmas.”

“Not Christmas. This time of …. the in between … the … with the … Shit, Armie, it was my birthday, okay?”

“What?” My growl reverberates up and down the hall, creeping into high corners. “When?”

“The twenty-seventh.”

The day he was reputedly calling all his friends to inform them of his undead status, he was actually fielding happy birthday phone calls. Liar, liar, pants on fire.

“Look, it doesn’t matter," he says. "It’s a stupid birthday, and everyone always forgets, so I just try to ignore it.”

This is the cause of his uncharacteristic melancholy, and I could have fixed it if he’d only told me. I could have wined and dined him, bought him a delicate emerald bracelet for his delicate wrist—emerald like his eyes. We could have had decadent bubble bath sex, and I could have tasted every inch of his flesh. Instead, he stole all that from me via conscious omission.

Fuck Sad Timmy and I don't mean literally. I’m pissed, so I kick the bedroom door down. Well. It doesn’t fall down. The lock shatters, and one hinge breaks, so it swings open and hangs there like an acrobat by one hand.

Timmy spins around, startled, as I stalk toward him—and promptly almost trip over my own feet. I skid to a halt. The squeaking sound would be funny if my caveman brain was capable of communicating anything but want, now, mine.

I stare at him from five feet away. “What. Are you. Wearing.”

His hands reach up to cover his chest but then fall to his sides. “It’s, um … One of the fashion students at school, she … she asked if I would wear it. She needed someone tall but with a small frame, so. I picked it up from her today.”

This is not a shirt. This is something … else. Honestly, the slim back trousers and Louboutin ankle boots (yes, I caved quickly and bought him a pair of black Samson-style leather beauties) would have been enough to get me hard, but this not-shirt? From what I can tell, it’s all intricate beads on the front, depicting what looks like the yellow brick road, a forest, and even the shadow of a witch. The beading is immaculate. Damn thing should be in a museum. Instead, it clings to my baby’s chest. But even better?

I can see in the mirror’s reflection that it’s backless. It’s fucking backless, all right, with these little black ribbons holding it on. Timmy has managed to tie two of them, but the ribbons up by his shoulders hang loose, framing the masterpiece of his back, crisscrossed by dark silk that makes his milk-white complexion glow.

He clears his throat. “Um, could you tie the top one?” He turns away from me, and in the reflection, he chews his bottom lip and stares at the floor.

It takes me a second to remember how to make my legs move, but I do—eventually. I’m six inches away from him when I grip his hips and run my thumbs back and forth across his lower back. I tickle fingers up his spine and caress the silk ribbons that cage him in. “Fuck,” I sigh.

I catch a glimmer of teeth in the reflection and glance up to see Timmy doing his best not to grin.

My fingers definitely aren’t shaking.

Okay, my fingers are shaking as I reach up and do my best to tie the top two ribbons together in a pretty bow—because the rest of them are pretty. I knew Timmy was flexible, but kid must be double-jointed to have gotten into this non-shirt on his own. Huh, file that detail for later. 

As soon as I pull the bow tight against his skin, he spins away from me and grabs a black suit coat from the end of the bed. “Ready?” He winks and walks for the door.

Ha, nope. I grip his upper arm and shove him against the nearest wall. I squeeze his bicep hard. “We weren’t done talking.”

“I don’t want to talk anymore. I want to dance.” He sticks out the tip of his tongue and gives it a nibble. “You look hot, by the way.”

“Don’t distract me. How could you not tell me about your birthday?”

He rolls his eyes and leans his head back against the wall. “No one has ever cared. It’s a stupid day.” He shoves at my chest. Since he’s been drinking so much blood lately, he actually jostles me from position and hurries out of the room before I can grab him again. I hear his voice echoing in the living room: “Come on, Armie, it’s almost midnight!”

"We're not in Kansas anymore," I mutter and follow, but the little minx better not think this conversation is over.

***

Our hands clasped together, Timmy doesn’t stop talking as we walk. Conversation mostly focuses on his upcoming court appearance opposite the dreaded, drunken Edward Monty, otherwise known as “fuckhead-who-stabbed-my-boyfriend.” Timmy has to testify, as do I, as does Saoirse—who’s flying back from Ireland in two days. Timmy’s parents will be back for the court date, too, which is when I get a little dizzy thinking about all the people I will soon have to deal with.

It won’t just be me and Timmy anymore. It’ll be Timmy plus friends plus family: two things I haven’t had in decades. I crawl out of my nervous brain to listen to Timmy’s nervous prattling. I know what he’s doing. He’s talking a lot so I won’t ask questions, so we can’t argue, so I can’t insist on buying him something hugely expensive right fucking now.  

He blah-blahs all over the place until we end up on a familiar sidewalk in front of a familiar gay bar: the one where I stalked him, behind which he was later almost murdered. There’s a waiting line out front, but Timmy waves at the bouncer and we walk right in. 

Midnight is only a half hour away, so the place is packed. Sweating young bodies writhe beneath dancing multi-colored lights. What with all the fog, it’s like looking through an Instagram filter, and it reeks of too many bodies that don’t belong to Timmy. But, hey, whatever, he wants to be here, so I hold tightly to his hand as he pulls me through crowd. I’m not sure who’s getting more thoroughly eye-fucked, Timmy or me. Probably Timmy, whose dark curls are Shirley Temple perfect. Whose eyes look holographic in the spinning light. Who lets go of my hand just long enough to take off his suit coat and reveal pale skin and black ribbons—and yeah, now the whole room is eye-fucking my boy.

Look your fill, gentleman. That tight, tiny ass is coming home with me.

He greets some guys at the bar, one of whose voice I recognize from eons ago, back before I knew Timmy’s name but knew I wanted to drink from him, fuck him, have him. He’s the same guy who showed up panicked at Timmy’s door on Halloween, warning him off vampires.

Seeing him now, the guy is probably a few years older than Timmy and soap opera handsome. Tall and sorta built. Since he’s the one who spotted me on the security footage months earlier, I assume he’s sometimes a bouncer around here, but he just looks relaxed tonight and a little drunk as he pulls Timmy into a one-armed hug and side-eyes me.

“Armie, this is Ansel," Timmy says.

“What kind of name is Ansel?” 

“Back at ya, bro,” Ansel slurs. Yep, maybe more than a little drunk. 

They talk more, but I just roll my eyes. Kids today. I admire the view from six-foot-five. Ain’t bad. Lots of club kids covered in glitter, but no one shines as brightly as Timothee Chalamet, especially when he tugs on my elbow and speaks right against my ear. “Dance?”

I shake my head. “Go ahead. I want to watch.”

“Kinky,” he mutters and hands me his coat. I fold it over my arm and train my gaze to the back of his curly head as he enters the throng—and hands immediately reach for his bare back, his slim hips. I swallow the need to throw punches but am soon distracted by another vampire at my side.

It’s the strong-jawed asshole from the ugly Christmas party.

“Well, well, well,” he says over the music. “He turned out nicely. Not that I'm surprised. He was a sweet little snack as a human already.”

“Yeah, thanks.” I would love to walk away, but I have the perfect view of Timmy from here as he dances face to face with a hot blond twink. My brain sort of short circuits watching them, two such pretty things.

“I called it,” the vamp says. “I knew, the way you were looking at him at that stupid party. I knew you’d turn him.” He slurps from a flask, and I smell blood. “How’d you get around the legalities anyway?”

I have to duck and weave to keep watching Timmy. A bear of a man in a black leather harness has snuck up behind him. He leers at all the pretty, and my brain fizzes like champagne. “He was dying.”

“Really? Shit.” Pause. “Wait, you didn’t try to kill him just so you could turn him, did you?”

I spare a glare. “Jesus. Fuck, no.”

This vamp with jet-black hair chuckles, and his teeth are whiter than fresh snow. “Wouldn’t have been surprised. Knew you’d never let him go.” He drinks from his flask. “I have a monthly meet up at one of the blood dens in Little Italy. You two should come sometime.” Like a magician, he makes a business card appear and shoves into my hand. “I’m Henry,” he says. 

I pocket the card. “Yeah. Great. Okay.”

The conversation only takes my eyes away from the dance floor for a couple seconds, but when I turn back around, Timmy is gone. He’s disappeared. I don’t bother with an “excuse me” or “nice to meet you” because I don’t waste time on bullshit, especially when my beaded vixen has vanished in a crowd of hungry gay dudes.

I make it to the place where he was, although the blond beauty is dancing up on someone else now, and the big bear is halfway across the room. I spin in a circle, seeking pale skin and the mischievous flash of his eyes—maybe an errant curl—but nothing. He’s just fucking gone … which is when I smell him. 

I smell sweet cinnamon and smoke—plus the undercurrent of my own blood—right in front of me, but he’s not … 

“Timmy?” I whisper.

Like a body rising from dark water, he slowly appears, lips parted and hair coated in sweat that might as well be liquid gold.

I grab him by the shoulders. “How did you know how to do that?” I never taught him how to disappear. That’s advanced vampire shit. 

“I just knew,” he says. He leans up on his toes and tilts his head so he can bite into my collarbone, fangs and all.

I pull him back by his hair. “Not in public,” I hiss. Then, I brush curls from his face. “You scared me.”

He runs his tongue over his pointed teeth, coated in my blood. “Good.”

Around us, a countdown has begun. People shout the numbers ten, nine, eight … and I lean close to Timmy’s ear and whisper, “You are in so much trouble.” Just as the metaphorical ball drops (and a literal ball drops not far from here in Times Square), I take his mouth in a savage kiss that has him moaning against my mouth. 

*** 

Inside our apartment, I shut the door and press him against it. He goes up for a kiss, but I swoop my head to the side and start sucking a bruise onto the side of his neck. His fingers pull and tug at the back of my hair as breathy groans fill the foyer. 

I reach beneath the back of his suit coat and find the hanging end of a ribbon. Slowly, I pull. “Do you know why you’re in trouble?” 

He hums, and the sound goes straight to my groin like Cupid’s arrow.

I tug the ribbon, and I feel the first beautiful bow give way. “One: because you didn’t tell me it was your birthday.” 

“But—”

I cover his mouth with my hand and feel him smile against my palm. My fingers inch higher up his bare back, warm from all the dancing despite Timmy being dead. “Two: because you scared me.” I tug the ribbon and nibble beneath his jaw. Another bow goes bye-bye. “And three …” I twirl my fingers in the final bow, way up near his bony shoulder blades. “You were acting like a hungry slut on the dance floor.”

He tries to speak against my palm as I untie the final ribbon and lean back, the beaded not-shirt now loose around his waist.

“Do you deny it?” I ask and remove my hand from his face. 

He smiles—tentatively—and oh, my God, he’s nervous. Fucking adorable. “I was trying to make you jealous.”

“Well. It worked.”

After I drag him to the bedroom, I am actually careful with his clothes. I would never destroy that immaculate beading, and I don’t know where Timmy got his black trousers, but thank Christ because the way his ass looks in ‘em should be a crime. Oh, and the Louboutins. Better believe I’m careful with those. In my opinion, messing up a pair of Louboutins is actually a crime. 

He’s wearing my favorite black boxers: those skin-tight D&G babies. I need to get him more of those. I sit him on the edge of our bed, the room glowing with dim lamplight. Then, I go for my box under the bed. I have so many ideas humping (yes, humping) around my head, but I should start with one.

I go for the blood-red rope and set to work. I build a star harness because rope straining across Timmy’s collarbones is gonna look fantastic. He watches me work, tongue poking the side of his lip.

“Keep your tongue in your mouth.”

He sucks his tongue back in and presses his lips together, caught.

Once the star is complete, I build loops for his wrists. Tiny loops. Fuck, I love his wrists. I have to buy him a bracelet or something. Several bracelets maybe. I realize I’m trying to play the tough guy right now, but I can’t help it. I kiss the inside of each wrist before wending and winding the ends of rope in all the right places until I can pull, tight, and suddenly, Tim’s arms are crossed in front of him, bound to his body. 

He gives the ropes an experimental tug but nothing gives.

“Fight all you want.” I nibble the pale skin of his forearms. “I love when you struggle.”

He eyes the open box on the floor. “Don’t use the sounds, okay? Please? I-I guess you can if you want, I just don’t really—”

“Hey.” I hold his chin between my thumb and forefinger. “Timmy. You know you can always say no to what I want to do.”

He snorts. “That’s not exactly the foundation on which our relationship was built, Armie.”

Oh. Right. I wonder if being back at the gay club, seeing that Ansel guy from Halloween, brought things back for Timmy, too. Me? I relived our entire glorious first time on the walk home.

The way his lip quivered when he said, “Please … don’t …”

The way he quietly asked me to leave, knowing I wouldn’t.

The way he smelled like fear and lust and tried to fight back when I kissed him before giving in, giving in, giving in … so sweetly, so perfectly.

Here, in the now, I try to explain. “That was before I cared about you. That was back when you were just a hot meal. A very hot meal.” 

The side of his mouth lifts, but there’s still a cloud of tension in the room. I want him anticipatory, not terrified. 

I rest both my hands on his knobby knees. “How about, from now on, we use the streetlight method, huh?”

His eyes find me beneath a veil of wind-whipped curls. “Okay. Green, then.”

I flash my fangs in a grin, and he flinches—then laughs. 

I tug off his boxers (shame), but I need him naked. I scoop him into my arms and lay him down the center of the bed. Then, I tie one ankle to the bottom bedpost. He doesn’t fight me when I spread his legs wide and tie the other ankle. I put a pillow under his head and stand back to admire my work.

I was right about the blood-red rope. Looks fucking amazing against his satin skin. He’s already hard. His breath is already labored. He’s bound before me like a goddamn Michelin Star meal.

I take off only my suit coat before climbing up the bed like a hungry beast, and I am—I’m starving—but this is gonna take awhile. Using the side of my hand, I push all his curls over the top of his head and press my thumb against his bottom lip. He opens for me, sucking. I remove my finger and rub saliva across his Adam’s apple until it shines. 

His is the gulp heard ‘round the world. “What are you going to do?” he asks.

I tug at the rope near his throat, then lower, just grazing a sensitive nipple. “Have you heard of edging?”

He nods.

“I think three hours should do.” I lean closer and speak right against his ear. “You asked me once if I was punishing you. Now, I am.” And I crouch between his spread legs and bite into his upper thigh.

***

We’re two hours and forty-five minutes into it, and I've brought Timmy to the edge and back over a dozen times. He looks like he might go nuclear. Seriously, if flames shot from his eyes, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.

I’ve got two fingers in his ass now, just rubbing, but there are toys all over the bed: a vibrating butt plug, anal beads, nipple clamps (that were arguably too much; he actually sobbed before wheezing “yellow” with a question mark; he's got really sensitive nipples) …

I’ve just been using my fingers for awhile now, though. I like the skin-to-skin contact. 

He’s soaked in sweat on the bed beneath me. He fights for breath, but it’s not the rope—the rope that pulls so perfectly as it digs into his straining skin. No, he’s fighting for release like a marathon runner strives for the finish line. His eyes are squeezed shut, and I can’t remember the last time he made a sound.

“Timmy? What color?” 

He turns his head to the side, face stained red by blood tears.

I stop moving my fingers. “Babe. Color.”

“Green. Gr-green.” His breath shudders as he sobs once.

Fuck, in theory, I want this to go on forever. I’ve never had him this pliant. I’ve never had him this goddamn broken by need. It’s a glimpse past the pearly gates and right into heaven.

However, in reality, I need to come. Now. Selfish, selfish. 

I tear off my clothes. Only Timmy could make me besmirch Armani. My fingers are trembling too much to untie his ankles, so I grab the knife I keep in the bedside table (I’m sometimes into blood play with humans, all right?) and cut his legs free. As I dip and tuck his knees over my shoulders, he barely blinks. 

I press into him, and his eyes pop open. “Ohhhhhhh, fuckkkkk.”

Yeah, right with you, kid.

His bound hands claw at his own shoulders as I unleash every ounce of pent-up sexual tension from the last two hours and … fifty minutes. Damn, so close to three. Next time.

His ankles tangle around the back of my head, and I practically ram us both into the headboard with a frenzied thrust. Timmy gasps, and I dig my hands beneath him. I latch onto a bit of rope and hold him still so I can plunge as deep as I want as hard as I want with no ensuing concussion.

His orgasm strikes suddenly, and he clenches around me. He hiccups through hysterics at the super intense pleasure-pain my edging has wrought. He’s still making quiet sob-moans as I press my forehead against the top of his shoulder and come and come … feels like I come for-fucking-ever. 

Shit, when I finally recover, I’m still on top of him, but Timmy is limp, unconscious. He’s either sleeping or our harried fuck literally knocked him out.

I roll to the side and stare at my ceiling. If I believed in reincarnation, I would believe I’d just been born again. What the hell? It’s a new year.

With Timmy still blotto, I carefully untie the rope that circles his wrists and chest. I have to roll him around a bit, but I eventually set him completely free. I discard the rope back into its box before waddling—trust me, it ain’t pretty—to the bathroom for a dampened towel. 

When I return, Timmy still hasn’t moved. I clean the remnants of tears from his face and wipe the sweat from his forehead. I do my best to clean him up before I notice the thick, patterned lines the ropes left on Timmy’s soft skin. I tickle my fingers across a particularly deep indentation on his right pec. I trace the lines on his body like I’m drawing a map—as if I don’t have him mapped already. 

If I went blind tomorrow, the only image I’d take with me would be Timmy. His open-mouthed laugh. The nervous twist of his long fingers. How he walks with Big Dick Energy (rightfully so) even though he closely resembles a sensual skeleton. The multi-dimensional hue of his eyes. The chocolate of his curls. Now, these: the red, angry ghosts of rope that are my gift. 

I whisper, “Marry me,” just to say it. Just to see how the words feel. They feel all right, I guess. Sort of like a different language I’m trying out.

I fall off the bed, legs in the air, when he says, “Green.”

Chapter Text

Wrapped in a sheet—and the remnants of rope marks—he smokes a clove while sitting in the windowsill. And he won’t stop fucking laughing.

Meanwhile, I pace naked, my dick just flapping around, but who gives a shit? I’m agitated; my dick might as well be, too.

I point at him. “I didn’t mean it.”

He takes a long inhale of smoke and blows it into the night air. “I’m thinking I’ll wear white for the wedding. An entire white suit.”

“Timmy—”

“But I don’t want you in a tux.” His hair flies in a sudden winter breeze, and he shakes curls out of his face. “You’d look ridiculous in a tux. It’s so not you.” 

I pause. “Hey, I look amazing in a tux.”

He snort-giggles, and I resume pacing.

“We are not getting married.”

“Armie. Dude. I know.” 

“You …” I skid to a stop. My bare feet actually burn against the texture of hard wood. “What?!”

He ashes into an empty coffee cup. “You didn’t even realize I was awake. I know you were just messing around.” He shrugs, but the playful mood shifts, darkens, as he turns his curly head away from me and stares into the night.

I start approaching him but don’t want to impress the entire neighborhood so grab my discarded boxers and step into them before stepping up to his side. “Timmy, I—”

“It’s no big deal. We’ve only known each other for, like, five seconds.” He crushes out his clove cigarette with way more vehemence than I would deem necessary. “I get it, you know? You’ve been around for centuries. You’ve probably made a dozen Timmy’s, and you get bored eventually. I mean, I would get bored of me.”

I open my mouth to argue, but he keeps on saying stupid things. 

“There are literally billions of fish in the sea, so I get why you wouldn’t want to be tied to some awkward, skinny kid from Hell’s Kitchen. We can just have fun for now, and—” 

“Stop!” Pretty sure my voice shakes the whole building, although strange: Timmy doesn’t move an inch. “You’re too smart to be acting this fucking stupid!”

He tilts his chin down and plucks at his bottom lip.

Oh, how I hate being ignored. Unless he’s gone spontaneously deaf, I know he can hear me, but I need him looking at me. I need him looking into my eyes so maybe he’ll finally get it.

I grab him by the hips and throw him over my shoulder, all his pale limbs flailing for purchase. The sheet that had been around his waist falls from the window in a sinuous slide. Congrats to some homeless guy who just inherited 1200 count Egyptian cotton.

I toss him on the bed. Before he can recover from his bounce, I have his hands pinned above his head, his legs pinned with my hips. I bite into the side of his neck, and he squeaks. I bite into his right pec; he bucks and says, “Ow!” I bite into his left shoulder, and he sucks air into his lungs before shouting, “Armie, stop!”

“No, you fucking stop! We said forever. Did we say forever? Oh, right, we said forever.” 

He tries to fight against me, but it’s no use. The bite marks I left immediately heal. I adjust my grip, holding both his wrists in one hand while my other grabs onto his chin. 

“Look at me.”

He does, his brow a cascade of wrinkles. “What?”

I speak slowly and over annunciate like I’m talking to a child who’s only just learned English. “I want you. Forever. I want this.” I squeeze his wrists. “Forever. Your unibrow and your gangly limbs and your skin and smell and fucking cheekbones. Your pillow talk voice and musician’s fingers. I want it all. Forever, you moron, okay? I just don’t want to marry you right now because I’ve never thought about marriage in my entire life, and I’d like to think about it first.”

He stares at me like I’ve lost my damn mind. Maybe I have. I guess I did back in October, the first time I felt him tremble under my fingertips. “I have … a unibrow?”

“Yeah, but don’t wax it. I like it.” I release his wrists but still loom above him. “I don’t ever want you to go. In fact, if you ever tried, I’d probably just tie you up and keep you.”

“Romantic.”

“I never said I was romantic.” 

“No.” He shakes his head. “No, you didn’t.” His fingers tickle down my cheek, the side of my neck. “Too bad that you are.”

“Am not.”

“Are, too.” 

“Am not.”

“Shut up, Armie.”

“Shut up, Armie?”

He rolls his eyes and chews the inside of his lips. Fuck, he’s trying not to cry. Maybe having a fight isn’t the best form of submissive aftercare.

“Timmy." 

His breath quivers on the exhale.

“Hey. Look at me. Please.”

He sniffs once and looks at me. His eyes are drowning pools of dark ivy.

“I need to know that you heard me. This is not a joke. This is not me being an asshole. I need you to understand that you are all I want. Forever. When I met you, I found everything I wanted, and the more I get to know you, the more I want you.” My mouth tickles into a smile on its own accord. “Sometimes, I’m scared how much I want you. Does that make sense?” 

He nods and plays with my chest hair. “Sometimes, I don’t know where I end and you begin.” 

“Yeah. Exactly.” I kiss his cheek, his forehead. “So did you hear me? Really hear me, Timmy?” 

“Yes.” His face scrunches in the middle, his nose and beloved unibrow wrinkling.

“Jesus, stop trying not to cry. You’re going to give yourself a headache.” 

He smiles but does indeed cry. Before he can wipe at his bloody face, I lick his salt-blood tears like a huge dog until he bats at my shoulders, laughing. “Gross! Stop!”

“Never!”

We fall asleep cuddled together. Our knees, thighs, hips, and arms are puzzle pieces that perfectly align.

***

I accidentally gifted Timmy a new nervous tic. Great, because he needed more nervous tics. I bought him a thin emerald bracelet, belated birthday. It obviously looks fantastic against his pale skin and delicate wrist, but he keeps fingering it as we stand in the courthouse waiting.

Ah, the legal system; it’s all about waiting. Although we couldn’t have planned for Timmy’s parents’ flight being delayed from Paris. They should be here any second to show support as their son testifies against his own would-be killer. I can tell he desperately wants them here. He keeps looking toward the grand marble staircase, covered in moving bodies, but he has yet to perk up at the sight of Mummy and Daddy.

I keep my hand on his shoulder, which at least keeps him from bouncing around the room. Saoirse is here, talking to Luca, whose hair is wild and smells like all manner of herbs. Knowing how much he cares about Timmy, he probably worked fifty good luck spells before coming here. The two of them hover nearby and occasionally glance in our direction. Saoirse has to testify, too. Jesus, even I have to testify. We’ve been coached by a team of lawyers all week, all under the guidance of—

“Timothee.” 

Timmy squawks and falls against me. Good thing I’m built like a brick shit house or we’d both have gone ass over teakettle.

Contrary to what you might think, the voice does not belong to the Boogeyman but Toby. (Fucking werewolves.) He’s been lingering around us to prepare for the court case. He is our “paranormal representative.” Christ, I never in a million years thought I’d end up under the guidance of a stinking werewolf.

Honestly? I should really cut the guy a break. Even though Timmy still gets all nervous around him (he says it’s the smell), Toby is a good dude. He has been helpful, and the way he talks, we’ll be out of here by lunch and Edward Monty will be rotting behind bars. 

If I don’t fucking kill him first.

I’ve been told repeatedly I am NOT ALLOWED TO KILL HIM.

Jeesh. This modern judicial system is such a bummer. I’d love to go Old Testament Biblical on his ass. Anyway …

“Timothee, could I have a moment?” Toby smiles and is careful to keep his wolf teeth hidden. Good man. He wears an okay suit. Kind of cheap but tailored to fit his frame. He pushes his glasses up his nose and waits while watching the ground. He’s learned by now to be gentle with Timmy, not to push him, and I appreciate it.

Timmy for his part gazes up at me.

“It’s okay,” I whisper over the sound of so many humans on cell phones and an argument down the hall. “I’ll be right here.”

Timmy nods and takes a deep breath before squeezing my hand and shuffling over to Toby. I admire the view. Fuck, I just knew that gray wool Spencer Hart suit would be perfect. With a white collar shirt—no tie—and black patent leather shoes (the Louboutons were just too-too for a court hearing), my precious boy would slay the runway. Instead, his shoulders curl forward the closer he gets to Toby. He shoves his hands in his pockets and tilts his head so he can hide behind his curls. Patented Timmy move.

There’s a melodic twinkle of sound: Saoirse’s Irish lilt. I turn to face her, but she watches the staircase as two middle-aged people in heavy coats rush toward us. I’d recognize that bone structure anywhere and …

No. 

No, shit, no.

Fuck me, no.

I can’t meet Timmy’s parents without him! Oh, my God, this is worse than the time I had to fight sixteen Nazis in Paris during World War II. By myself. (Bastards wanna burn my city? I’ll burn you.)

Nope, nope. I turn my back and focus all my attention on Timmy, who is singularly focused on Toby and whatever the hell charming wolf boy is saying. Why can’t I be psychic? Is that too much to ask? Maybe I could just disappear. Yeah, that’ll—

“Armand?”

French accent. Gotta be Timmy’s dad. I turn slowly, and he’s older than I was expecting. Maybe it’s just the white hair. Maybe it’s the crinkled eyes from what looks like a life spent smiling. If I’d raised a kid like Timmy, I’d smile a lot, too.

I clear my throat and do what I’m supposed to: hold my hand out for him to shake.

He does. “I’m Marc, Timothee’s father.” 

I don’t see the resemblance, but Marc is older-guy handsome, so I guess there’s that. He smells like a trans-Atlantic flight, like warm food in an enclosed space and uncomfortable seats. But underneath all that, I sense it: the sweetness of his blood. Chalamet blood is apparently an international delicacy. 

Before I can even return the greeting, Timmy’s mom is in front of me. And not to be weird, but Jesus, she smells good, too. This is a living algebra equation.

X + X = Z.

Good blood + good blood = great blood.

Equals Timmy’s blood.

I know his mom’s name is Nicole. Again, the resemblance is small. Timmy has his mom’s nose, but both his parents have these blue eyes. Where did my boy’s mystical green come from? Maybe he really is a fae creature. Maybe they found him covered in glittery mist in a magical wood. Wouldn’t be a bit surprised.

Nicole pulls me down into a hug that proves this woman is way stronger than she appears. Again, I’m about to speak, but before I can, Timmy crashes into the three of us, hugging and kissing all over the place. His dad is full French and Timmy half, so the PDA ranges on ridiculous.

I stand back and watch his mom and dad pet his hair, his face. They hug him and pull back to look at him, hug him again. I suppose they’re looking for differences now that their little boy is an immortal beast. Well. As beastly as Timmy can be, at least.

I still think I should say something, introduce myself (even though they know exactly who I am), but before I can, some guy announces that court is in session, and we’re all ushered inside with Toby and Luca bringing up the rear like some kind of paranormal sheep dogs. (Heh, Toby probably would not appreciate that comparison.)

We all sit in the same row. Timmy drags me next to him, and I reflexively put an arm around his shoulders. He sighs and leans against me. I kiss the side of his head. “You okay?”

He nods but doesn’t look at me, staring instead toward the front of the courtroom with its big windows and high ceilings from the early 1900s. He about breaks my fingers squeezing so hard. When I look up, I see why: Edward Monty has just been led inside wearing a cheap suit and bad haircut.

A hand reaches forward from behind us and pets Timmy’s shoulder. It’s Toby. I manage to not flash my fangs at him … but only just.

So in case you didn’t know, court cases are boring as fuck. I listen for a while but soon find myself zoning out on this one freckle on Timmy’s upper lip. He’s got a little scar on his left cheekbone (soccer injury), so I stare at that for what feels like three hours. Toby already said we have nothing to worry about. The lawyers said the same. I’m not worried. I just want to get Timmy out of here, home safe, but that endgame feels like a marathon now that his parents are finally here. He’ll probably want to spend time with them, which is understandable. I hope Marc and Nicole don’t mind me holding Timmy on my lap the whole time. What? I’m feeling clingy, okay?

When Timmy is called to testify, he closes his eyes and takes a long, slow breath before standing and buttoning his suit coat. He does the whole swearing in thing and sits, but I smell the tension from here. My boy is terrified.

We’ve talked about this before. When he plays piano in front of thousands of people, he’s never nervous. He says he “goes away.” He gets lost in the music. He becomes the music. He’s no longer a scared, skinny kid; he’s rapid scales, arpeggios, chords … When not in front of a piano, however, he hates being on stage. He hates being the center of attention.

I start to stand, to shield him or some dumb shit, but Marc’s solid grip on my forearm keeps my ass in the seat.

He turns his head to me and whispers, “Il est très fort.”

“Je sais,” I hiss, but my irritation is misplaced.

Marc is right; Timmy is strong, stronger than he gives himself credit for. I just hate seeing him up there in that big, wooden box looking so damn small. He should be on a throne, not slumped over and watching the defense attorney like he might bite.

“Rester calme,” Marc says, so I lean back in my seat and wait to see what Monty’s douchebag lawyer is gonna say. 

The lawyer, a greasy dude in an alarmingly plaid suit, starts off by rehashing the events of that night in the alley. He goes out of his way to make Monty sound like some sad, freezing son of a bitch instead of a greedy bastard with a knife. I sit bolt upright, though, when he turns to Timmy and says, “You attacked Mr. Monty, didn’t you, son?”

I expect Timmy to sputter, because that’s what he does when he’s nervous: stutter and sputter and turn the color of a tomato. He doesn’t. He calmly says, “No.” 

The lawyer takes a long pause, I assume because he thought Timmy looked like an easy mark: a pretty boy who would shrink under scrutiny.

I can’t fault the guy for the assumption. Timmy is painfully pretty and does look soft—not the kind of guy who would start bar brawls or lead revolutions. He’s totally a Helen of Troy persona. Wars would be fought for a shot at his ass.

Well, not today. Timmy stops slumping and sits up straight. He glares at the defense attorney. Jesus, I think the guy audibly gulps. I give it to that stinking werewolf: Toby coached Timmy well.

The greasy lawyer persists. “According to my client, you incited the violence, which would be in your nature. Vampires are violent creatures, but they are often violent people first. Do you deny this?” 

“Yes. I’m a vampire, but I’m not violent.” 

The lawyer scoffs. “Right. Just like your maker, the infamously violent Marquis de Marteau?” 

I’m actually worried my eyes might pop out of my head. Like, legitimately. How the fuck did this guy find out my full name? This is what we’ve come to with the paranormal registry, isn’t it? Someone can look you up and discover your entire history? I wonder what’s in my file …

Jesus fuck, I hope Timmy never asks to see what’s in my file! I don’t want him to know what a monster I’ve been. I start replaying the terrible things I’ve done—things Luca saw when he did his witchy mind-meld bullshit—but not Timmy. Please, I don’t want Timmy to know how terrible I was.

How terrible I was.

Huh. Light bulb moment, much? I haven’t been terrible since I met him.

Timmy, all calm nonchalance, shrugs. “I’m not the marquis. I’m me. If I’d wanted to hurt Mr. Monty, if I was violent, I could have. Instead, Armie and I took him to the police, which is why we’re here today.” He glances at the jury, probably so they can get a good look at his puppy dog eyes. “I’m a vampire right now because someone stabbed me in an alley, not because I wanted to be. Armie saved my life, which makes him a good man to me, no matter his past indiscretions. And I’m sorry, but aren’t we here to talk about the guy who stabbed me?” 

“Allegedly,” the lawyer says quickly. He’s drowned, and he knows it.

Timmy blinks at him—a lot. “Oh-kay?”

Well, as you might expect, Saoirse nails it. Even I do my best to not bite the greasy lawyer’s head off, but that would be just disgusting. He’s wearing enough hair product to pollute the entire Gulf of Mexico.

Despite all this, it’s still hours before Monty is pronounced guilty—hours before I get to wrap Timmy in a hug and just hold him, breathe him in. He takes big heaving breaths of me, too. It’s a vampire comfort thing, between maker and sire, the smell. He claws at my back and holds tight.

Our whole gang looks exhausted, even bespectacled Toby, who tells Timmy he did a great job. I’m waiting for his parents to drag him away, but they look at the two of us wistfully before kissing Timmy on the cheek. 

“We’re tired, honey,” Nicole says. “See you tomorrow?”

Timmy nods and hugs his dad, and I am so thankful. Maybe having in-laws won’t be so bad after all? 

*** 

I pour two big glasses of blood in the kitchen before returning to the living room where a fire blazes and a huge pile of blankets shifts minutely on the couch. Timmy is technically dead, so obviously, the cold doesn’t affect him the way it used to. Nonetheless, he’s created a cocoon of safety, blanket upon blanket embracing him. All I can see of him is the wild, silky top of his head and his eyes reflecting the fire. 

I sit near where his feet must be, hidden by cotton and down. “Hungry?” I hold the glass in the air between us.

A muffled response. Sounds like “no.”

“I don’t care. Drink this.” 

A bony hand shoots from beneath the fabric, and the glass disappears into his fortress. I hear the unmistakable sound of him gulping it down before his hand again appears, glass empty. I take it, set it on the coffee table, and sip mine like a grown up: slowly and with finesse. 

“Are you gonna stay in there forever?” I ask.

The whole pile shifts when he moves, but I still can’t see his face. “I hated today. Today was hated.”

“It’s over at least.” I dig around in the fabric by my hip until I find one of his feet and play with his toes.

“What does it feel like to kill someone?”

I consider. “Hmm, well, it depends on the person.”

The Timmy mountain shimmies. “What the fuck does that mean?” 

“Well, if the person was bad, then it feels good.” 

Silence before: “Wait, so you’ve killed, like, good people?”

I look to the ceiling for guidance. “Timmy, I’m not a good guy.”

“You are to me!”

“No, I am because of you. I realized that in court today. You make me want to be good.”

I think he grumbles—a tiny couch earthquake. “The Marquis de Marteau. Why didn’t you ever tell me your whole name?”

“Never came up.” I sip the last of my blood and tug his foot. “Would you come out of there please?”

If possible, he pulls all the blankets tighter. “I like it in here.”

Fuck it, I go diving. I delve into the web of blankets, much to my love’s chagrin as he struggles to cover himself while my fingers work beneath comforter and afghan to find his cold, bare skin. I nuzzle my head until I wear the blankets like a coat and Timmy is the shirt beneath. He wiggles against me until I completely wrap him in my embrace. Now, we’re both buried with his back to my front, my nose in his hair.

He sighs, but his shoulders blessedly relax now that I’ve become part of his fabric fort. “I’m nervous.”

“About?”

“Don’t know.”

I kiss behind his ear. “Yeah, you do. Spill.”

“It’s just … like everyone knows I’m a vampire now. First, it was my friends and family. Then, everyone at school.”

Which he said (claimed) was no big deal. He said (claimed) everyone treated him the same since he’s been back at NYU. Shit, he’s still talking, so I should probably pay attention.

“But now, it’ll be in the newspapers, which means the music community in New York will know, which means the national community will know, which means the international community will know, and shit, Armie, what if they all hate me now?” 

I shush him and act as his own personal undead blanket. “No one could ever hate you.” 

“Oh, my God, don’t be an idiot. As if there aren’t anti-vampire groups and rallies and shit.” He spins his head around and almost nails me in the nose. “Fuck, what if they protest my concerts?”

“Timmy, I need you to calm down. You’re future-casting things that haven’t happened.”

“But they might happen!” His adorable face is pinched into a freaked-out line.

“But they might not. Babe.” I brush his curls with my finger and massage his scalp the way he likes until his eyes slide shut and he practically purrs. “We’re going to figure this out together, okay? I haven’t been in the public eye in two hundred years, so let’s just play this out. Just continue being us. You’ll keep playing piano and going to school; I’ll keep being rich and managing my family’s affairs.”

“Hammer Industries …”

I only told him recently that I’ve spent centuries investing. How else did you think I could afford my clothes and my apartment? My biggest cash cow right now is oil in Texas, although I Americanized my company name. (Yeah, oil, I know, not hip and green—but I never claimed to be moral. I even invested in Big Pharma once, but that ended up being too creepy for even me.)

Timmy still isn’t satisfied. He’s not relaxed. I squeeze his shoulders. “What else is it?”

“Dunno.” 

“Yeah. You do.”

“I maybe just feel lonely.” 

“What? I love you with every skin cell, every atom, every—” 

“Armie, dial it down, dude. I’m not talking about romantically. I’m talking about …” He whines. “Look, I don’t know. I guess I mean, like, vampire friends. I just wish I knew more people like us. More people I could relate to in that way.” 

Jesus, who is this kid? Oh, right, he’s polite, friendly Timothee Chalamet who has a couple dozen human friends because everyone fucking loves him. I never considered the vampire angle, probably because I steer clear of other vampires. Too dangerous with too many bloodthirsty egos in the room.

Then, there’s Timmy, who’s not bloodthirsty at all. Timmy, who probably could use a vampire friend—just a friend—to talk to and learn from and … God, I’m an asshole. Why didn’t I think of his basic platonic companionship? Lonely jerks like me are fine on our own, but Timmy (my darling boy) needs the literal embrace of blankets and the metaphorical embrace of someone who understands. 

I consider the business card from that Henry guy. Pieces of Timmy’s hair shoot up when I exhale against his scalp. “I might have an idea.”

Chapter Text

As soon as I see the dark alley, I know I’ve been here before—here, to this blood club, hidden around a corner of Little Italy. Away from the glowing twinkle lights that perpetually hang above the street. Away from the smell of tomato and garlic, the sound of cheerful voices, the clink of silverware. We step around the corner, hands held tight, and it’s like the alley steals sound. It’s silent back here.

And surprisingly clean.

Jesus, whoever owns this blood club scrubs down his or her own alley. There isn’t even a dumpster back here—just a door with a dim bulb above that glows pink.

Timmy stops walking and pulls on my arm. I know he doesn’t like alleys, ever since (you know) he got stabbed in one. I don’t think he’s nervous about the alley, though. “Babe, what’s up?”

He shrugs. “I’m …” He laughs. “Is it going to be, like, a drunken orgy in there?" 

I laugh, too. “No, Timmy. No. It’s just a bar with blood and humans who like to get bit.” I tongue my front fang. “I mean, there are obviously private rooms with beds. And public areas with beds.”

His eyebrows shoot up. 

I rest my hands on his shoulders. “Hey, what did I say? No rules tonight, no expectations. We’re just going to see how things go. See if you find some vampires you like. New friends, right?”

He nods and side-eyes the glowing pink door. “You’ve had orgies at blood clubs before, haven’t you?”

Yeah, at this one, in fact. I clear my throat. “Um.”

He groans, rolls his eyes, and keeps walking, dragging me behind.

When I called Henry earlier this week, he sounded thrilled to hear from me, I assume because he wants a piece of Timmy’s sweet ass—and that’s not fucking happening. But we’re here for Timmy, to help Timmy make vampire friends so he doesn’t feel so separate, so different all the time, like he does at NYU.

His human friends haven’t abandoned him obviously. Hell, I swear he and Saoirse are attached at the hip sometimes; she’s practically a constant fixture in my living room, but I don’t mind as long as she sings while she’s there. Girl can fucking sing.

So, no, Timmy has not been abandoned, but he’s different now. He’s an immortal creature, and that can be tough to wrap your head around. He needs vampire friends, so here we are at Henry’s monthly meet up, and I have zero idea how this is gonna go down.

Thanks to the phone call, I know the secret knock. (Thanks, Henry.) I do the fancy knuckle click thing he told me to do, and the door opens immediately. The entrance is brighter than the rest of the bar is going to be because I know they like to look people over, make sure you’re not carrying a stake or some other weird shit. Also gives the security cameras a good look in case something goes funny inside.

Timmy seems surprised by the white light, though, like he just walked into a doctor’s office waiting room and has no idea how he got there. I give him a little shove forward, and he walks in.

“Armie! Timmy!” And there’s Henry. If he didn’t annoy me so much, he’d be stupidly good-looking.

A skinny coat check girl with a dozen face piercings glances at us but looks away because we’re not human and didn’t wear overcoats because we’re dead.

Henry latches onto my hand first. He doesn’t shake my hand, just squeezes and grins that megawatt smile of his. Under the overhead light, his black hair shines. We’re almost the same height, which is super weird. No one’s my height. It’s off putting. “Glad you two could make it,” Henry says.

I make a noncommittal noise as he turns his attention to Timmy.

He takes one of Timmy’s hands and lifts it like he might give his knuckles a kiss. Instead, he turns Timmy’s hand, bows, and kisses the inside of his wrist. “I knew you’d be soft everywhere,” he whispers.

I take a threatening step forward, which Timmy stops with a hand to my chest. “Armie, Jesus, he’s trying to piss you off.”

Henry chuckles and lets go of my boy’s hand. “Smart and beautiful.”

Yeah, a little too beautiful tonight maybe. When Timmy stepped out of our master bedroom in all black earlier—black suit, black button down, black shoes—I just about fell to my knees in worship. No, but seriously, I had to clutch the couch cushion to keep from melting to the floor. 

I asked, “Where did that suit come from?”

“Oh, I wear it when I do concerts sometimes.” He moved his shoulders back and forth. “It sorta shimmers under lights.” 

Timmy shimmers all the time, but adding that suit to the mix turned him into a fae mafia prince.

Now, Henry can’t take his eyes off him. I snap my fingers in Henry’s face, and he laughs. Cheerful motherfucker. “Why don’t you two head inside? I’m sure I’ll see you around this evening. Enjoy …” He moves to the side and gestures with his hand like a Price is Right girl.

Congratulations, here’s your prize!

We walk through the foyer, and a massive vampire bouncer opens another door for us. Through this door, it’s darker, the light assuming a pleasant gold glow that’ll probably make everyone look hotter than they actually are. We pass though a red velvet curtain, and of course the first thing we see is a vampire woman and human dude fucking like goddamn bunnies against the wall.

Jesus.

I cover Timmy’s eyes like I’m a parent with a small child, but he reaches up and moves two of my fingers apart so he can see.

“Right, so …” I mutter. With my arm around his shoulders, I veer him away from Mr. and Ms. Exhibitionist and toward the blood bar. 

Yep, I’ve been here. The place is deceptively huge—probably a refurbished warehouse. Around the long bar of dark wood, there are high top tables and chairs. Beyond that, there are couches. Beyond that, beds, and even further back, private rooms for anyone to use. I’ve used them—several times.

What? I used to be a slut, all right? With great looks comes great responsibility. 

I lead Timmy to a barstool, because I’m not sure he’s watching where he’s going. His big eyes look everywhere, studying everything. People all around us talk and kiss. I see a bit of feeding going on in the dark corner of a couch. As expected, everyone looks flawless in this dim, warm light. Then again, it is a blood club. Occupants of blood clubs are usually very fucking hot because vampires are shallow, duh. 

I literally hear Timmy gulp at my side. He plucks at the open collar of his shirt. If he had on a tie, he would be nervously adjusting it. Instead, he reaches for the emerald bracelet on his wrist and twirls it between his fingers.

“You’re not freaking out, are you?”

He jumps. “Hmm? What?”

I lean closer. “Do you want to go?”

“No.” He turns to me and bites down on his bottom lip before shaking his head and smiling. “Dude, this is a lot.”

I pull his face against my chest and dig a hand into the hair at his nape. “You’re so fucking cute.”

He pushes at my chest and scoffs. “I’m a lethal predator.”

“Yeah, right.” I smooch his forehead. “Let’s get a drink.”

I order two glasses of AB-negative to show off how rich I am. The bartender raises his eyebrows, and a few vamps turn and look. Unlike Timmy, I like standing out in the crowd. Timmy is probably the only person not impressed as he sips mindlessly, eyes still darting around—observing, categorizing, learning.

“Uh, so what now?” he asks over the sound of Massive Attack. I remember they had good music here.

I settle onto the barstool at his side and actually enjoy my drink. “We just hang out. See where the night takes us.”

He leans his shoulder against mine. “I feel like I’m eighteen, sneaking into a bar with a fake.” 

“Timmy, you belong here as much as anyone else—more so, really, because you’re hotter than everyone in the room.”

He pffts and blushes.

I smirk. No matter how many times I tell him that, he’s never going to believe me. 

I’m about to say as much when there’s a voice behind us: “Excuse me?”

We both glance back, and this pretty blond boy stands there, wringing his fingers. This enchanting human isn’t just blond but bright white blond with huge blue eyes—bigger than Timmy’s eyes, if you can believe that—and full, dick-sucking lips.

Also hard to believe: he’s smaller than Timmy. Shorter, yeah, but that’s no big thing. (Timmy is actually tall when not standing next to me.) But this guy is shorter and skinnier. He’s a sexy twig, and he smells nervous but wanting.

Hands still folded in a knot, he points all his fingers at Timmy. “You’re Timothy, right?” American pronunciation with an Australian accent. Interesting. I’ve noticed Timmy's name gets messed up a lot. It's completely different depending on who’s saying it, but it sounds good in Australian.

Timmy turns on his bar stool. “Um. Yes?”

“I’ve seen you around campus at NYU. You’re the piano player. Obviously.” Blondie looks down at his toes and back up at Timmy. “I’ve seen you play, like, six times?”

He phrases it as a question even though it’s a statement, and I nonchalantly put my hand over my mouth to hide my smile. Oh, my God, this tiny human is flirting with Timmy, and it’s goddamn adorable.

“I think you’re beautiful,” the boy blurts. “You’re, like, everything.” 

Timmy’s mouth drops open, and he blinks at this stranger, then at me—which is when the blond apparently notices my presence. Until that moment, I might as well have been a lamp. 

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” he says. “I didn’t mean to—”

“No, it’s fine.” I smile. For real. This Aussie isn’t a threat. He’s just infatuated with my boyfriend, and it’s sweet really because I want Timmy to start understanding just how amazing he is—how people turn to look at him when he walks into a room.

I still don’t get how he doesn’t notice. How has he gone his whole life without seeing that people downright stare when he walks by? I once watched a girl fall off a curb while checking him out, and the kid is fucking clueless. Maybe Blondie can help with that, even though Timmy looks like he wants to swallow his own tongue in embarrassment right now.

I nudge Timmy’s shoulder but address the human in our midst. “What’s your name?”

“Troye,” he says, sing-song.

“Troye, I’m Armie.” His hand is small and warm in mine.

“Armie.” Troye nods, and floppy blond curls fall on his forehead. “Do you mind if I …” He gestures toward Timmy, and I nod because whatever this Troye character has in mind, I’m in. He presses his full lips together before speaking. “I was wondering if you wanted to feed from me.”

Okay, now, Timmy looks like he swallowed a frog and doesn’t know how to hack it back up. “Wh … um … You would want me to …” He scratches the back of his head. 

Troye puts his hands on Timmy’s knees and takes a small step between them. Ballsy motherfucker. “Yeah. I really, really want you to.” Troye leans forward, and Timmy leans back. I think he might crawl up onto the bar any second now, so I rest a gentle hand on Troye’s shoulder. I can feel his scorching hot skin through the fabric of a thin sweater that’s gotta be designer. 

“Hey, Troye, could you give us a second? Why don’t you go save that chaise lounge?” I nod toward a big piece of dark purple furniture in the corner, away from prying eyes, because let’s face it: half the bar is now watching our exchange because half the bar is probably hoping Timmy and Troye would just kiss already.

Troye does an elegant spin move before waving and sauntering away like a satisfied cat.

Timmy buries his head in his hands. “Oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God.”

I shouldn’t laugh, but he’s being ridiculous. And sooooooooo cute. “Timmy, relax."

“But that guy wants me to bite him!” 

“It’s a blood club, Timmy.”

“Shit. People do think I’m attractive, don’t they? Oh, my God.” He stares at the bar, mouth hanging wide.

I put my finger under his chin until his jaw pops back into place. “I’ve been saying that for months.”

“You have to say shit like that. You love me.” 

I nose at his cheek and put a hand on his upper thigh. “Not at first. At first, if you recall, I just wanted to fuck you. Because you’re goddamn gorgeous. And Troye …” I squeeze his thigh. “Wants every inch of your gorgeous body on top of him right now.”

“Holy shit.” 

“Come on.” I stand and start poking him in the shoulder.

“Fuck. Armie?”

“Let’s just see how it goes." 

He shoves his hair out of his face, and that gesture is sexy enough to unleash at least three pairs of vampire fangs. Put Timmy on the big screen in Times Square, and the whole city would be aroused.

“I came here to make friends, not bite somebody,” he says. 

“Well, why don't we try both?” I grab his hand and pull. “Come on, you pansy.”

He protests my choice of language but allows himself to be dragged to the purple chaise where Troye sits on the edge, smiling. He reaches up for the lapels of Timmy’s suit immediately and drags him down so Timmy sits at his side. I linger on the edge of the nearest chair and spend but a moment considering my own emotional state.

I should be jealous, especially when Troye starts mouthing under Timmy’s jaw while reaching beneath Timmy’s suit coat to explore his lower back. I should be fucking livid really. Timmy is mine. Mine, mine, mine. He has been since the first time I touched him.

But something about this sweet Australian college kid, desperate for Timmy’s attention, warms my dead heart. Probably because Troye is so desperate. Makes me want to build a Timmy altar. Church of Timmy. I want the whole world worshipping my baby.

Speaking of want ... Troye wants so hard. He keeps peppering tiny kisses over Timmy’s cheeks and chin, but Timmy won’t let him near his lips.

He’s probably thinking of me—the way I get. The jealous way I already acted tonight when Henry got a little too close. He’s probably worried I’ll hurt Troye or something, since Timmy’s mouth belongs to me. Well, maybe I can share the goods for a second.

I vacate my chair and sit beside them on the chaise. Timmy startles. His fingers, already on Troye’s shoulders, tighten like he wants to shield, protect. I shake my head just slightly and keep my expression soft. “It’s all right,” I say. “Kiss him.”

Timmy looks dubious. 

“Seriously, go ahead.”

Timmy smiles. With my permission, he melts into a kiss that has Troye moaning like he’s being fucked. God, this hot blond is hungry. With a surprising amount of strength—based on Troye’s petit frame—he falls back on the chaise and drags Timmy on top of him. I’m almost knocked right off the furniture, and Timmy fumbles before coming to rest between Troye’s spread legs, which wrap around Timmy’s hips and pull him down.

Timmy’s no virgin. Christ, no. The kid has busted out moves in bed that even I’ve never seen before. But here, in the back of this blood club with a stunning human writhing beneath him, his movements are stilted, tense. Especially when Troye pulls back and begs, “Bite me. Please.” He turns his neck to the side and waits, hands still tugging at Timmy’s clothes.

I can sense something is wrong. Timmy isn't comfortable. He doesn't want this. I'm about to put my hand on his shoulder and tell him it's okay to stop ("We can just go home"), but he beats me to it.

Timmy looks my way, lips quirked to one side, before melting on top of Troye and wrapping him in a hug. “I can’t,” he says. “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

*** 

On a balcony outside the back of the club, Timmy smokes aggressively. “I’m the worst vampire ever.” He spits the scent of clove on an angry exhale.

“Timmy, you’re not.”

“I fucking am! Vampires are supposed to, like, bite people, right?”

“Not always.” I put my hands in my pockets, because if I touch him right now, I’m pretty sure he’ll slap me silly.

He spins on me, and for a second, I fear for my immortal life. “What does that mean?”

I sigh and hope my bemused calmness permeates his tantrum bubble. “Some vampires only drink the bagged stuff. They don’t like feeding from the source.” I shrug. “Honestly? I’m not surprised.”

He sneers up at me. “That I suck as a vampire?”

“No.” Okay, I’m sick of not touching him, so I cup his cheeks in the palms of my hands. “Feeding is kind of, well, violent. You’re literally biting into someone’s flesh, and I know you do it to me, but that’s because you’re just messing around. Taking a bite out of an actual living, breathing human? Drinking their blood?” I shake my head. “It’s not really you. You are kind and gentle and sweet. You’re not a monster like me.”

“You’re a gentle giant,” he whispers, but he’s slipping into a sort of lust haze, especially with my fingers now massaging his scalp. 

“Yeah. Now.” I nuzzle his forehead.

“Kiss me,” he says. “I want to taste you in my mouth.” 

“You and Troye were pretty hot together …” 

“He wasn’t you.”

I kiss him, and even if he thinks he still tastes like Troye, I only taste Timmy and cinnamon with a touch of smoke. He leans his body against me and goes onto his tiptoes to deepen the kiss but pauses when Troye speaks up: “You're both so sexy.”

Timmy chuckles into my mouth. I swallow his breath before he pulls away, and there’s Troye, shivering in the cold in that sexy thin sweater.

“I’m sorry about …” Timmy looks down. 

“No, it’s …” Troye shakes his head. “At least I got to kiss you.”

Timmy, as per usual, hides behind his hair until Troye reaches out and endearingly wraps one of his pinkies around Timmy’s.

“There’s a group of us inside, vampires and humans,” he says. “We come here a lot. I know you’re super new to this scene, so I thought you might want to come meet everyone?”

Timmy’s head shoots up in interest. “Really?”

“Yeah. We’ve all been staring at you since you came in, so. You’re like a celebrity.” 

A shocked laugh falls from Timmy’s mouth. He glances back at me, and I nod.

“Excellent!” Troye yells and drags Timmy inside.

***

I don’t know why Timmy feels so awkward all the time. He’s amazing with people. For the past hour, I’ve stood here, leaned against the bar just watching. Troye’s group is a dozen attractive men and women, a good mix of young people and ageless vampires. And he wasn’t kidding: Timmy is some kind of celebrity to them. I overhear snippets. Most of them have seen him play piano in concert before. Half of them have checked him out on campus at least once if not a hundred times. They all want to talk to him, touch him, get his attention. A couple young women in particular might as well own shirts with his face on them. I think the term is “fangirl.” 

Timmy is so polite. He listens and looks interested. He laughs that unencumbered, open-mouthed giggle of his. He and Troye become more and more animated as time goes on until they’re high-fiving, all sexual tension gone. Maybe Troye just needed to get it out of his system. Or maybe he saw how Timmy and I kiss and knew efforts at seduction were useless.

Timmy talks to a few vampires, too, but those conversations are more subdued, serious. I assume he’s asking them questions about the lifestyle, which is great. I want him to learn all he can.

Every once in a while, he looks up and smiles across the room at me. Twice, he’s come over and begged me to join, but I like watching. Plus, he needs this. I can see he needs this, especially after the whirlwind month we’ve had. He needs vampire friends, and by the look of it, he’s collecting them in hordes. 

Of course, Henry has to walk up and destroy my moment of Zen.

He leans on the bar, too close for comfort. “Heard he couldn’t get it up.”

“Pretty sure you should watch your fucking mouth, and he’s more than competent at getting it up.” And why am I talking about Timmy’s penis with this asshole, when Henry obviously refers to his fangs?

“Ha. I figured your kid wouldn’t be much of a biter. He’s too gentle. Soft.” 

True.

“You, on the other hand …” He moves closer and—what the fuck? He slides his hand across my abs and takes hold of my hip before nosing at the side of my neck. “I don’t imagine you’d be gentle at all.”

Oh, my God, I’m an idiot. “All this time, I thought you wanted Timmy.”

Henry’s blood-soaked breath chills the side of my face. “Are you kidding? I’d break him in two." 

“You’d be surprised.”

“Really? Interesting.” He rubs his nose against my ear. “Why don’t you join me in a private room?”

I’m about to laugh in his face but don’t get the chance because, suddenly, Henry is launched ten feet backwards and a very pissed off Timmy stands between us.

Henry laughs and cusses. “Shit. You’re right, Armie, he’s stronger than he looks.” He pauses. “Threesome?”

Timmy actually growls.

It’s super hot, but I put a hand on his shoulder because I’d rather not get kicked out. “Nothing happened. It’s all right.”

Timmy spins and presses himself against me. He kisses me until I actually taste blood. A drop from my own busted lip tickles down my chin when he pulls away. “Take me home,” he says. Or more like orders. 

***

“No one else. No one else. No one else.”

Christ, he’s going to rub all my chest hair off with his face if I don’t stop him. If only I could stop him. I can’t feel my appendages. Timmy has fucked me into numbness, and I’m still having trouble breathing. Who knew? Jealousy makes him an animal in bed.

“Hey, hey,” I mumble. What are words? I slur, “I didn’t even kiss Henry.”

He draws back, aghast. “You told me to kiss Troye!” 

I chuckle, and Timmy beats my chest like a drum. “I’m just kidding. It was hot as fuck watching you two.” 

He huffs and drops all his weight on top of me—which isn’t much weight really. He’s a sweaty blanket made of sharp angles, dried cum, and a tongue that teases my Adam’s apple. He nibbles the edge of my jaw, and I shiver.

“Seriously, stop,” I mutter. “Desist.”

“Had enough of me, huh?” It’s not a serious question; it’s tinged with amusement.

“For now. Christ, Timmy, why have we never done reverse cowgirl—”

“Boy.”

“Before?” The image of his spine curling as he clung to my shins and rode my dick? Yeah, that’s burnt on my retinas. “Fuck,” I sigh.

“I’m serious.” 

“Humphuh?” Yep, no more words for this guy.

“No one else. I know we were just seeing how things went tonight, and Troye is awesome obviously.” They exchanged numbers—obviously. Turns out Troye is a music student, too. Wants to be a pop singer or some shit.

Timmy also got real chummy with this unfairly attractive British vampire from the 1800s. Edmund something-or-other. Guess he’s, like, a duke. He resembled Timmy: dark curls and crazy pretty eyes, although Edmund’s hair was black and his eyes silver-blue. Still, unfairly attractive—but married apparently, so I don’t need to worry. 

Oh, shit, Timmy is still talking.

“Are you listening to me at all right now?”

I try to move my head and look at him, but nope: Timmy has fucked me to the edge of my grave.

“Armie, focus.” He pushes off my chest and hovers above me, straddling my waist totally nude, and … yep, my dick gives a twitch. So not all dead. “Armie!” He grabs my chin and squeezes. 

“What? Yes, what?”

“No. One. Else.” He leans over me, and I’m coherent enough to brush the curls back from his face. “I don’t want to kiss anyone else or touch anyone else or be fucked by anyone else. And I don’t even think I like blood clubs that much. Edmund says we can just meet at a regular vampire bar sometime. He even said we could double date with him and his husband who’s, like, ridiculously old, I guess.”

“I don’t do double dates.”

“Obviously, because you’re an antisocial bastard, but I’m going to make friends." He growls ... like a kitten. "We’re getting off topic! Damn it, Armie, can we only be with each other? Forever?” He leans back, averts his gaze, and plays with his bracelet—nervous tic. “Is that okay?” 

I grab him by the hips and flip us over, kissing up the side of his neck. It’s a miracle! I’ve regained motor functions. “Of course it’s okay. It’s more than okay.” I tickle his sides. “It’s super okay. Extraordinary okay.”

He wiggles and screams and laughs. “Stop! Armie, I’m going to puke!”

“Vampires can’t puke.” I keep tickling—until he digs his fangs into my forearm. My yelp is totally dignified. I fall limply at his side, huffing for breath, and gather him into my arms so he’s crushed to my chest. Our limbs are tied in knots. “Fuck, Timmy, I only want you. Never doubt that.”

“Good.” His voice is heavy, emotional, as he presses his face to my throat and inhales. “Glad we cleared that up then.”

Chapter Text

Full disclosure: I’ve never “met the parents.” I know I’ve met both Nicole and Marc for, like, five seconds, but now, I’m standing on the welcome mat outside their apartment in Hell’s Kitchen with empty hands thinking I should have bought some damn flowers or something. (Stupid Armie.)

I don’t know what to expect. Timmy came over here a couple hours ago. He said he wanted some alone time, which I immediately construed as time to gossip about me—maybe prepare his parents for my acerbic personality. He said that wasn’t the case. He just likes hanging out with his parents. Fair enough. But it’s five thirty now, which was the time we agreed I should come over. Here I am.

Christ, is this what I’ve become? An ancient vampire in love meeting the fucking parents? Yup. All for Timmy. Anything for Timmy.

I make a fart noise when I blow air forcibly through my lips and finally knock.

After a few moments, I hear footsteps and … is that yelling?

The door opens, and Nicole stands there with hair the same color as Timmy but not the eyes. I’m still not sure where his green eyes came from. She’s in a long, white sweater and black leggings, and she smiles when she sees me, reaches up and drags me into a back-smacking hug. 

“Armie! Nice to see you,” she says as she pulls away. 

Behind her, the yelling continues—in French. It’s Timmy and his dad, and they’re arguing. Shit, probably about me or vampires or how could you be so irresponsible to let a stranger fuck you? Okay, maybe not the last thing. I think about barging in and rescuing Timmy from his father’s wrath, but then, I actually listen to what’s being said. 

Soccer. They’re arguing in French about soccer. 

I shake my head to dislodge the rage haze from my brain. 

Already, Nicole is walking away from me and further into the foyer and well-lit apartment decorated with modern art and family photos. “Come on, come on,” she says, waving her hand like I’ve been there before—like we’ve hung out a million times before. 

The kitchen is New York small and yet spacious enough for all four of us to fit comfortably. No wonder the yelling sounded so loud, though. Voices echo off the appliances and high ceilings.

Timmy doesn’t miss a beat when he sees me. Just smiles and squeezes my hand before ripping into his father again about Manchester United.

Marc interrupts him, though, and speaks in English. “Armie! His French is atrocious. Please practice with him.”

Both his parents laugh, but Timmy makes an affronted sound and spouts a quick, “Lâche-moi la grappe,” which means … well, I’m not going into the full translation here, but it’s the equivalent of Timmy telling his dad to get out of his hair. 

Modern French idioms are the worst. 

I almost want to argue but bite my tongue because should I really begin this whole “meeting the parents” debacle with an argument? But really, I like Timmy’s French because it’s so … Timmy. It’s Parisian French with a New York lilt—a little bit of two cultures, just like my French-American prince.

Timmy pipes up for me, though. “Armie likes my French.”

Marc sips from a glass of wine before saying, “Armie likes your everything.” 

Timmy leans up on his toes to kiss my cheek before wrapping a sweater-clad arm around my waist because of course he would be the one vampire in history to actually still require warm clothes.

Meanwhile, Nicole opens the fridge and pulls out a bottle of … blood? What?

She shows me the label and winces. “I know it’s not your favorite, but is this all right?”

She means it’s not AB-negative, the expensive shit, but it’s a nice bottle of A-positive, so I nod and check the corners, wondering if the world is still on its axis. I’m pretty sure “meeting the parents” is supposed to be like some nerve-wracking job interview where you have to pass all these verbal tests—or at least that’s what I’ve heard. Instead, the Chalamet clan is making me feel like I’ve been Timmy’s undead boyfriend for the past ten years.

Furthermore, she pours blood into crystal wine glasses and nonchalantly passes them to Timmy and me as if it isn’t also super weird that their only child is now dead and dating a monster.

What the actual fuck?

We adjourn to the living room where everything is well lit and comfortable, a little fire burning in the fireplace. Marc and Nicole sit on the couch while Timmy and I squeeze into the center of a love seat that smells like … home. So clichéd (I know), but everything smells safe and clean and sort of like Timmy. I feel myself melting into the furniture, even more so when Timmy hums and rest his head on my shoulder.

Okay, here it is. I’m sure of it. Here’s the part where they ask my intentions or some shit. Then again, Nicole already asked me if I was planning to marry Timmy, so how much worse could it get?

Instead of something awful and uncomfortable, Nicole says, “Timmy mentioned you have a house in France?” 

I swallow a sip of blood and then set my glass on the coffee table because it just feels weird drinking blood in front of Timmy’s parents. “Yes, it's in the Loire Valley, not far from Tours.” I clear my throat. “There are lavender fields on every side.”

The house in France has always been my safe space for when I need time alone, away from humanity’s noise for a while. I had already planned to take Timmy there and fuck him in every room until the house absolutely reeks with his pleasure, but I only now realize Timmy’s fabric softener smelled like lavender when we first met. Was that part of the initial draw, I wonder? He instilled an immediate sense of peace within me—and lust, duh, but peace, too.

“Sounds lovely,” Nicole says. She curls her legs up and pushes her stockinged feet beneath her husband’s thigh. The gesture is so very Timmy. 

“Do you have any family?” Marc asks, which is a completely innocuous question that for some reason inserts a lump in my throat. It’s not his fault. Humans are used to family and friends while vampires are used to loneliness. I vow in that moment to never let Timmy be lonely. He’s going to have to watch people die—the people he loves—but I will be at his side for all of it. 

My extended silence makes Timmy shake my arm. “Armie, it’s okay.” I forget sometimes; Timmy can smell my emotions as well as I can smell his, so he probably just got a mouthful of mournful.

“Excuse me,” I mutter. “I had family, yes. My father died when I was very young, but my mother lived into old age. I also had brothers.” Who I miss almost every day, thank you. Christ, maybe “meeting the parents” is a pain in the ass. I don’t dredge up this shit, okay? Fuck it, I grab the glass of blood and take a huge gulp.

“Well,” Nicole starts.

Go ahead, lady. Dig deeper.

“We’re your family now.” She smiles softly.

Marc nods his agreement. “That’s right.” Without missing a beat, he continues, “And I hear Luca is a witch.”

I chuckle as Timmy squeezes my arm. I try not to start fucking crying. What is it with the Chalamet clan and emotions? It’s like they all know exactly how to make me soft.

Family. I have a family again.

*** 

Later, Timmy wants to show me his childhood room. He grew up here, in this happy little apartment. They’ve always been here when not traveling in France. Apparently, Marc spends a lot of time overseas for work. He’s got some important job with the United Nations, while Nicole is a teacher. 

Over the past hour, I’ve learned all about them and their tiny human lives. 

Tiny. Yeah, right. 

I’m an immortal being with super powers, yet I’m the tiny one. Timmy and his parents are huge by comparison, brimming over with joy, laughter, and love. They shared embarrassing stories—like the time Timmy fell backwards out of a chair during a high school awards ceremony. They tossed pillows at each other, especially when Nicole mentioned something about “Lil Timmy Tim,” which will require additional research on my end.

While Nicole and Timmy laugh loudly with open mouths, Marc is quiet, polite, and well, European, I guess. He reminds me of royalty, but not in the stodgy way. He’s dignified and watches his wife and son with an affection that almost made my dead heart beat. 

Frankly, it’s a relief to escape the living room, only because my level of happiness is frankly terrifying. In my experience, happiness has always been fleeting, and I can’t lose this. I’m scared of losing this. The universe just loves to take good things away, damn it. The universe is a bitch.

I try to smother my fear in Timmy’s childhood bedroom. He walks in first and clicks on a lamp by a twin-sized bed and stands, waiting, with his hands in his pockets.

It’s neat and tidy in here, just like the cold, little apartment he no longer uses. (We already broke the lease since he lives with me full-time.) Other than the bed, there’s a desk and bookcase covered in trophies. I inspect them and recognize a golden soccer player on each, Timmy’s name underneath.

“You actually play soccer?”

He shrugs. “I did when I was little. Everyone in the building used to call me ‘Soccer Timmy.’” He arrives at my side and pokes the gilded foot of one mini man. “I was good, if you can believe that.”

I squeeze the back of his neck. “I can believe it. You’ve got the tall build for it.” I kiss the side of his forehead. “And you’re good at being chased.”

He smirks as I continue investigating.

A poster hangs on the wall. I assume “Kid Cudi” is a musician … which is when I notice something missing. “You must have music trophies.”

Timmy nods. “They’re in my mom’s office. She likes looking at them.”

“How old were you when you started playing piano?” 

“Eight.”

I lean down and run my hand over the navy blue comforter on his bed. “Music and soccer then?”

“I was a busy kid.”

I look around at all this stuff and this room that smells like Timmy and wish I’d been there for all of it. “There was a time in France when rich families arranged marriages between their human children and vampires.”

He leans against the bookcase, brows furrowed. “But vampires have only been out for a couple years.”

“We sometimes revealed ourselves back in the day. It was all very hush-hush, but it was a good deal for everyone. Vampires got money, and the aristocracy got immortality.” I pick up a framed picture from his nightstand. It’s Timmy and Nicole. He looks to be around ten years old, with crazy hair and laughing eyes. My whole chest tightens. “Sometimes, the human would be a child when the agreement was made. Then, the vampire would visit occasionally as the child grew up. Once the human was of age, it was like they were already friends.”

“But not you,” he says. “You never wanted that?”

I carefully set the picture down like something precious. “No, I never wanted that. I was also a murderous bastard, so no member of French high society would have wanted a child anywhere near me.” In the dim light, I face him. He had been staring at the floor, but he now lifts his chin to look at me. “I get it now.”

“What?”

I encompass the room with a wave of my hand. “I wish I could have seen you grow up.” 

He toes at the worn carpet, threadbare in places from supporting years of child’s play. “Nah, I was really awkward.”

“You’re still awkward.”

He fake laughs, a warm wave of ha-ha. “Gee, thanks.”

“You know what this room needs, though?” I approach him slowly like a squirrel that might spook. 

“Um, repainting?” He backpedals when I get close. My forward motion propels him toward the bedroom door, which closes quietly when his spine makes contact.

I rest my hands against the wood on either side of his head, boxing him in. “Have you ever had sex in here?”

He gifts me with a quiet nervous chuckle. “Uh, no. No, Armie. No.”

“It’s just a christening. We got your school covered. I think your childhood bedroom is an important next step.”

He shakes his head and starts to speak.

Because I know Timmy (better than I’ve ever known anyone), I cover his mouth before cupping his dick through his jeans—and yep, I’m a genius, because my palm muffles the sound of his surprised moan. 

I nudge his legs open with my knee as he continues to shake his head beneath my grip, his fingers shoving fruitlessly against my chest. His eyes are wide, imploring, but even as he silently begs me to cut it out, his cock thickens in my grip.

I kiss the bridge of his nose since his mouth is my prisoner. “Oh, all right, just a blow job then.” I drop to my knees, unbutton his jeans, and tug them down his hips. 

He claws at my shoulder. “Armie, oh, my God, stop. We can’t …”

I nose at his dick through his boxers, and he whimper-moans.

“Oh, shit,” he mumbles, and his head thunks loudly back against the door.

We both freeze. I hold a finger to my lips, a noiseless shush. Then, I whisper, “Better make it quick.” I pull the front of his boxers down and tuck the elastic under his balls before just going for it.

I deep throat Timmy in one go, and he makes this adorable little shocked noise, knees melting for a moment before he remembers how to stand. He uses my shoulders for ballast as I suck and swallow around him. I look up to find him watching. His mouth hangs wide open as he gawks in wonder. Maybe it is indeed wondrous, the way I worship him here on my knees—a roving pilgrim who’s finally found his way home.

I move faster, and his breath picks up. I close my eyes and focus with my fingertips digging into his ass. He thrusts gently down my throat, involuntary motions spurned on by suction.

He mumbles some mixture of “fuck” and my name over and over before his hands clutch tightly to my head. He comes down my throat, twitching and panting. His ass flexes against my palms before I pull back and admire the way his beautiful cock still stands at half-mast. 

“God-shit-damn,” he mumbles and leans against the door.

I stand and wipe my mouth as he wipes a hand across his face and rubs his eyes. “See? The room needed that. It’s all grown up now.”

He groans and leans down to adjust his underwear and pull up his jeans. “Goddamn it, Armie.” 

“Oh, you loved it.”

“Yeah, but—”

There’s a quick knock before the door swings open, hitting Timmy in the back. He scrambles to pull the bottom of his sweater down just as Nicole sticks her head inside. “Boys! You’re going to miss Jeopardy!”

“Jesus, Mom, privacy!” Timmy all but shrieks.

She rolls her eyes. No matter that they’re a different color; the resemblance is uncanny. “Hurry up,” she says before closing the door.

Timmy points. “See that? That was my childhood. That is why we don’t do childhood bedroom blow jobs.”

“Babe, we just did.” I scoop him into my arms and reach a hand up the back of his sweater against his bare skin before kissing him with a boatload of tongue. I pull back. “Can you taste yourself?”

He sighs. “You’re so gross.” And keeps on kissing me.

***

Back in the living room, Marc asks for “a moment.” Oddly, I’m not nervous at all as we step onto the balcony—me in nothing but a wool Armani suit and Marc in a huge winter coat. His face and white hair both glow when he lights his pipe. Because of course Marc Chalamet smokes a pipe. Classy motherfucker.

Together, we look down at a city street empty of people but full of snow. “C’était le coup de foudre avec toi?” 

I huff out a breath. He’s asking if it was love at first sight, which I’m hesitant to admit. I never believed in such a thing before, but maybe that’s what it was. I saw Timmy at that coffee shop, and I recognized the thing I’d been waiting centuries for, so I say, “Oui, je pense.”

He exhales, and the smoke smells like vanilla and bonfires in autumn. “I’ve seen Timmy in relationships before. He’s always been very sensitive. You might say empathic. He feels so much. That’s what makes his music so beautiful.”

I nod in agreement.

“He’s different with you because he’s the same."

I lean my elbows on the wrought iron terrace. “I don’t follow.” 

“Sometimes, in relationships, we change to fit the person. We become who they want us to be in order to keep them around. Timmy has done that before.” His eyes narrow as he blows a smoke ring, quickly dispelled by the winter air. “He’s made himself smaller or bigger for other people to fit their mold, but he doesn’t do that with you. With you, he is completely himself, fearlessly and without judgment. For better or worse.” 

I chew the inside of my lip before mumbling, “Hunh.” 

“You disagree?”

“No. I just realized I’m the same with him. Completely myself.”

Marc laughs and shakes his head. “Idiot.” It sounds so much worse with the French accent.

I stand up straight. “Hey.”

He puts a hand on my shoulder. “You are fools for each other. That’s good. Don’t ever try to make sense of love, Armand. Don’t ever try pushing it away. Even if you and Timmy spend centuries together, don’t take it for granted. Tu écoutes?”

“I tried pushing him away once before.” I think of that bloody alley and nod. “J’écoute.” 

“Good.” He squeezes my shoulder before turning to tap the tobacco from his pipe. “Any good at Jeopardy?” 

“Yes, sir.”

“Good.” He gestures for the sliding glass door. “Allons, mon fils.”

He just called me his son.

I’m not crying; you’re crying.

*** 

After we leave his parents’ place, we’re supposed to meet at the gay club. Saoirse is there, as is Troye and that Edmund vampire guy apparently. My head is still buzzing with all the unfamiliar emotions as Timmy tugs me along, practically skipping.

Will he ever stop being cute? Will he ever lose his wide-eyed wonder and innocence? God, I hope not. I’ll do everything in my power to shield him and keep him happy. I owe more than Timmy now. I owe his parents; I owe his friends. I gave him the gift of immortality, and I never want it to become a curse.

As usual, we walk right past the line of freezing cold patrons when Timmy waves at the bouncer. Inside, it’s not as crowded as usual because it’s early, so it’s easy to spot Saoirse on the dance floor making out with … oh God, Henry? Christ.

Timmy laughs and points when he sees them. He shouts her name over the sound of techno, and she stops kissing Henry long enough to grin and wave at us. And back to the kissing. 

Troye is at the bar in a see-through mesh top standing next to annoyingly sexy Edmund and some huge blond dude who might as well be a Viking warrior. I assume this is his husband. Timmy greets them all with high-fives and hugs, but I hang back and just look for a moment. 

I have a family. I have friends. I have love. 

God, what would my mother think? My brothers? They would laugh at me, laugh at the way I smile as I take it all in.

The grumpy big brother. The asshole. The lethal predator, murdering beast. I’m surrounded by all these people who want to know me, all these people who care. I haven’t cared in two hundred years, not until Timmy showed up.

Now, he turns and beckons me over, his brows smushed together like maybe he’s worried something’s wrong when everything is so, so right. I take a step forward, but I’m doing much more than entering the bar. I’m entering a new life.

Chapter Text

Valentine's Day ...  3 years later 

Biarritz, Southern France

We arrived at the vacation rental an hour ago after traveling from my mansion near Tours. It’s a cute little VRBO Timmy found. Unassuming. Strangely, he gets tired of being rich sometimes. So weird. Like being rich is some sort of burden.

He gets tired of the fame sometimes, too. After weeks of concerts on the road, I swear he’s like a corpse—all hollow-eyed and empty for the first couple days until I can manage to fuck some joy back into him and force-feed him blood.

Don’t get me wrong: he’s still cute and innocent. He hasn’t lost any of his wonder. But touring is a lot, and he’s got these fans. I guess the kids call it “stanning,” which is a screwy way of saying “stalker,” far as I can tell. Boy and girls of all ages obsess over every outfit Timmy wears, every move he makes, every goddamn tweet.

Yeah, okay, maybe sometimes it is tiring being rich and famous. I would know. I was invisible to the masses for centuries, and now, I’m Timmy's … Well.

Right now, I’m checking my email—news from the financial sector—when my phone dings. 

It’s a text from Saoirse: Timmy is gonna be so pissed, followed by three laughing face emojis.

I have no idea what she’s talking about—unless she’s back with Henry. They didn’t date for long, but Timmy did not approve. It was pretty funny seeing the tables turned. When I first got with Timmy, Saoirse was so pissy with me. Once she started hooking up with Henry (who Timmy refers to as “that dickhead” ever since he made a move on me at the blood club), Timmy never shut up about it.

Tantrum Timmy is honestly pretty cute, but don’t tell him I said that. He would hate that I think Tantrum Timmy is cute.

I think a bit more about Saoirse’s text. I haven’t done anything awful or annoying in the recent weeks, so what the hell is she on about? I text back a quick, WTF?

She responds with a link to the New York Times.

I squint and see … oh. 

Ha, yeah, Timmy is going to be super pissed. I’m already looking forward to his high-pitched voice and flapping hands. Fucking love Tantrum Timmy. 

On my computer, I go to the New York Times social section, and there’s a picture of us. I chuckle and look up at the sound of Timmy’s bare feet slapping across tile. He has on bright red D&G boxer briefs. His chest still drips, post-shower, as he rubs his head with a fluffy towel.

I can't help but lift an eyebrow. "Is that your Valentine's Day costume?"

He winks. "Only for you. What’s so funny?”

“Come here.” I scoot back in my seat so he can climb onto my lap and point at the computer screen.

I feel him tense on top of me. “Oh, my—Mom! Goddamn it!” He tries to scurry away, probably reach for his phone and make a scathing call, but I wrap my arms around his skinny waist and squeeze. His appendages swing as he struggles; he’s a sexy insect in my web.

I laugh and kiss up his warm, wet spine. He must have just chugged a bag of blood in the bathroom. “Don’t be pissed. I think it’s cute. And perfect for today.”

“No, it’s …” He flails at the picture in the Times. “I look like I’m twelve!”

“You look gorgeous. Half of New York already wants to fuck you; now, the whole city will be lining up.” I nibble the sharp edge of his right scapulae. “Too bad you’re already taken.”

The headline reads “Grammy-winning pianist to wed French marquis.” And, okay, so Nicole did pick a dumb picture, because Timmy is wearing this huge grin while staring up at me, and when he grins like that, he does look younger. But still hot. He always looks hot, especially now that he has designers actually calling to dress him for concerts and award shows and late night interviews.

My Timothee Chalamet is all the rage nowadays.

Where do I even start? I guess with the engagement.

Timmy was doing this huge concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York two weeks ago. Sold out show. He’d been playing all sold out shows ever since that Grammy for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. Despite my jealousy issues, I can accept the kid’s popularity isn’t solely due to his talent—which is excessive enough—but also due to his looks.

(As I mentioned, “stanning.”) 

Anyway, the concert was a pretty big deal, but not because of the crowds or media but because Luca was going to be there.

He and Timmy still talk on occasion, but they don’t see each other half as much since he graduated. And Luca was … is Timmy’s mentor, so he was nervous and pulling on his hair until it looked like a clown wig. (It was goddamn precious, okay? Timmy can play to a standing ovation on The Ellen Show, but one wily witch makes him pee his pants.) 

I’d bought the engagement ring a month before and was biding my time so I could propose after the concert and then whisk him away to France for a surprise holiday. (Yes, I talked to his agent first. I’m fucking considerate.) It was supposed to be a surprise—and it was, for Timmy—but Luca snuck up on me backstage before the show, looked me up and down, and said, “Good. It’s about time you made an honest man of him.” Bastard spun on his heel and walked away whistling. Fucking witches.

But Luca didn’t spill the beans. After a flawless show, back in Timmy’s dressing room, I did the thing. I even got down on one knee. Timmy laughed and cried and tackled me to the floor in a rush to get his ring. It’s a delicate silver thing with a tiny emerald stone. It’s the jewelry counterpart of my boyfriend.

Er, fiancé.

And now, thanks to Nicole (who’s already planning the wedding), all of New York City is finding out on Valentine's Day, no less. Soon, the whole country will know and then, the world. All Timmy’s precious stans will weep. Or maybe not. They’ve all been really nice to me during Timmy’s meteoric rise to fame. Some of them even think I’m hot and want me to sign their t-shirts. I am famous by proximity. True, there have been a couple anti-vampire protests at Timmy’s concerts—as he feared—but nothing serious. Nothing a full-fanged smile can’t handle.

Nobody hurts my Timmy. Nobody.

I rub my nose back and forth over his spine and dip the tips of my fingers down the front of his red boxers. “You’re not embarrassed by me, are you?”

He snorts and leans his wet head back on my shoulder. “No. I guess I wanted more time to just be us without the world looking in our window.”

“The world doesn’t even know where we are right now.” Biarritz is great for anonymity, beach parties, and ocean waves. Tomorrow, I’m going to teach Timmy how to surf. I imagine it’ll be a disaster. Even with vampiric grace and the poise of an acclaimed musician, Timmy is still my long-limbed darling. My sweet treat. Despite playing soccer as a kid, an athlete he is not—although he can definitely dance, an activity we’ll do in abundance tonight. 

But for now, I dip my fingers further down the front of his boxers until his open thighs clench on either side of mine. He sighs and melts on top of me. He hands me the power, as he is often wont to do.

Let’s just say we’ve still never used metal sounds in bed (he forbids me), but Timmy is well acquainted now with everything else in my big box of toys. He’s a glorious submissive, needy and desperate when bound. A bit of a pain slut, too—surprising considering he’s usually the human equivalent of cotton candy. Too bad his immortal skin heals so quickly. I do love leaving marks.

He reaches his hands back over his head and clutches to the back of my neck as I stroke his dick and suck his earlobe. His back arches as he rolls his hips … which is when my stupid phone rings. I’m ready to ignore it, but Timmy must look at who’s calling.

He huffs and sits up straight, jarring my hand out of his boxers in the process. He answers, “Mom! What the hell?” I frown as he continues his conversation walking to the bedroom.

I’m left with the image of his delectable ass in my brain and a damp towel over my shoulder.

Oh, and an erection. Obviously.

***

All right, I either need to leave the VRBO or get laid, like, now.

Timmy spent thirty minutes on the phone to his mother and then another thirty at least talking to his agent, Brian. Don’t get me wrong: I love Brian. He would step in front of a bullet for Timmy (not that he would need to since Timmy is immortal, but you know). I’m maybe a little salty with the guy, though, because he and Nicole apparently orchestrated this whole Valentine's Day engagement announcement thing, and it’s harshing my buzz. I came to Biarritz to dance, surf, and get laid, and so far, none of those things has happened.

I’m dressed and ready. Casual Armani, bitches. Pale cream linen with a powder blue shirt. I look good—so where the fuck is my fiancé?

The door to the bedroom opens. I see his expression first, which is how I know he knows that he’s about to be in trouble. He’s trying to hide a grin by sticking his tongue against the side of his cheek, and he doesn’t make eye contact. Little shit is up to something. 

As my gaze gobbles him up, I see the pants. The tight white t-shirt is delicious, but …

Oh.

Oh, dear, God.

Jesus in heaven, send help.

He’s wearing black leather pants. They look expensive. Tightly tailored. Made for Timmy. They have to be from one of those designers. They’ve all been drooling over him. One of those designers made these goddamn fuck-me pants for my boy, and nope. Just nope.

I realize I should probably say that out loud: “Nope.”

“Something wrong?” He runs a hand through his hair, curls full and floppy in the salty sea air. For a second, I think he hid a stylist in his suitcase. Then again, I think Timmy always looks perfect. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was under a witch’s spell, eternally enamored.

I scowl. “No, you’re not wearing those out.”

We’ve had this argument approximately fifty times over the last three years. Whenever Timmy looks too good, too utterly fuckable, I fight him on ensemble because he’s mine. Miiiiiiiine. I appreciate that other people appreciate the goods, but I don’t appreciate it, you know? So we always fake-argue and haggle. I let him wear whatever he wants anyway, but it’s a fun game. It usually involves wrestling. I never get sick of pinning Timmy to the floor. I never get tired of his bird-like wrist bones in my hands.

“Take them off.” I wave at the pants of sin. 

Timmy’s face is pure mischief and his body a coiled spring that is suddenly unleashed toward our front door. We both use our immortal speed, so by the time I reach him, he’s already opened the door. I grab his hips and lift, tugging him backwards as his hands latch onto the frame.

“No!” He tries to sound stern but laughs. “Armie, I want to go dancing!” He grunts as he tries pulling himself through the doorframe, but I have my arms around his waist now. He’s not winning this battle.

I tug backwards on his hips; he tugs forward with his arms.

He giggles and lets go suddenly, which means we both tumble backwards onto the floor. I cushion his fall with my body but quickly roll him over so he’s exactly where I want him: pinned beneath me with both his wrists clenched in my left hand above his head. My right reaches down to explore his thigh. The leather is like butter. “Jesus, these have to be expensive.”

His chest trembles with the last bit of laughter. “I wouldn’t know. They were free.”

“What? Who the fuck gave you these?”

He shrugs as best he can while trapped. “Some French designer.”

I mimic, “Some French designer.” I shove his thighs apart with my knees and start kissing down the side of his neck.

“Armie,” he whines. “It's Valentine's Day! Take me out!"

I cup his dick. "Oh, I plan to take you out."

He rolls his eyes. 

“You just spent a million years …” Kiss. “On the phone talking business.” Suck. Kiss. “When we’re supposed to be on vacation.” Suck. Nibble. “You need to be punished.”

“Later,” he sighs. “Seriously, Armie, I want to see the ocean. Please?” He’s using the sweet voice and puppy dog eyes. Dirty minx. No fair.

Fine. I’ll punish him later. But for now …

I dig my fangs into the side of his neck—hard. He hisses and arches under me, struggling against the grip on his wrists. He whimpers and breathes heavy once, twice, three times before gasping in a huge breath and going limp. Hmm, if his intention was to get us out of here faster, going pliant under me will not help his case.

Still, I relent. Timmy wants to dance. He wants to see the ocean on Valentine's Day in the south of France. I make it a habit to always give him what he wants because I am a lethal predator … completely whipped by this beautiful boy.

***

I’ve always felt like Biarritz is crooked, although I assume it’s more illusion than truth. See, the city sits on the edge of the ocean, and I swear the old cobblestones have started to veer downward—like the ocean is starving, a wide open maw that wants to chew up the city itself and all its occupants.

I know the feeling. I may have already fed earlier, but I’m starving for Timmy, especially as I watch him watch the city. Hands clasped, I guide him beyond bars and cafes filled with couples having romantic, candlelit dinners. We wander beneath flickering gas lamps and late night surf shops. The city is abuzz with beautiful people in love, but nobody is hot as Timmy in those damn leather pants.

I smile when a dude in a tee and swim trunks runs into a lamppost while checking him out.

I wonder how many injuries Timmy has caused by just being Timmy. I consider recompense, but the hospital bills would be atrocious. And you can’t put a price on sinful thoughts, unless we equate them to Hail Mary’s. How many lustful thoughts can be attributed to my sweetheart? Hundreds? Thousands? I know I don’t own the monopoly, but I’m totally the primary shareholder. My lustful thoughts have gotta be in the gazillions by now.

I lead Timmy down some shadowy steps. As soon as his boots touch sand, he stops looking around at everything and freezes, staring at black water broken by white cresting waves. He drops my hand and spins, walking backwards with a grin as he shouts, “Allons-y!”

Of course I follow.

There are four bars right on the beach in Biarritz, and due to the holiday, they’re all packed. Timmy is agile and accustomed to the club scene, so he bobs and weaves through dancers with ease. Meanwhile, I lumber through with my broad shoulders, although no one seems to mind. A couple girls try to get me to stop and dance with them, but neh. I need my hands on Timmy.

To the tune of French rap, he drags me to him and starts a slow grind. Torture. That’s what this is. Immortal blue balls are still blue balls, and I’ve been horny for hours.

He turns away from me and presses his back to my front and keeps grinding, grinding. I use my nose to flick hair away from his ear and whisper, “You are in such deep shit when we get home.” 

If he hears me, he doesn’t show it. He just leans his head back against my collarbone and laces his fingers with mine. His eyes are shut, lips parted. Timmy loves music, of course, and he’s lost in it. Lost in the music and in me.

I kiss behind his ear and feel eyes on us. When I look up, a group of girls—college-aged, Timmy’s human age—are all staring. They smile when they notice me watching, so I decide to play. I flash my fangs with Timmy blissed out and oblivious in my arms.

As a collective, the girls jump and turn away. One of them, the brave one, keeps watching, though, probably worried for Timmy’s safety, but he’s no lamb. A wolf in lamb’s clothing maybe. She looks at me the way Saoirse once did: like I was defiling something precious. I wrap my arms around his chest and smile at the brave girl. Let her think what she wants.

I stopped worrying about what people think two hundred years ago, honey.

Another thing I stopped worrying about? Happiness. I used to think the universe was cruel, that she’d take this all away from me. I don’t worry about that shit anymore. Too busy living and being happy, I guess, free from my demons and full on the angel in my arms.

Quick as a viper, Timmy pinches my side. I startle, and my arms loosen around him enough that he escapes my grip and flits off into the crowd.

Damn him and his skinny frame. I try to keep an eye on his bouncing curls as I follow, but people keep getting in my way and I’m not supposed to toss humans like bocce balls unfortunately. Near the edge of the sandy dance floor, I spot him running off down the beach, glancing back at me only once in the moonlight.

I know what he’s going to do before he does it. I’m about to shout, “Not the leather,” but don’t have time, because there he goes, into the surf.

He’s not alone out there. Even in the cold, February sea, it’s possible to make out naked shoulders and discarded clothes floating to shore. Humans are definitely fucking off the coast of Biarritz, and over my undead body will horny humans try having sex with my Timmy.

I don’t even bother taking off my suit coat. Fuck it. I sprint after him. I dive through an incoming wave and come up sputtering, spitting saltwater from my mouth as my wet clothes try to weigh me down. Thankfully, I'm dead so don't feel the chill.

Like a lost-at-sea beacon, I feel him nearby. I stand and walk further into the surf until I spot a merman floating on his back in a now see-through white t-shirt and probably destroyed pants. And boots. Fuck, Timmy. I loved those ankle boots. At least they aren’t the Louboutins.

I grab beneath his armpits and lift straight up. He squeaks and flails like a fish before wrapping his legs around my waist. I shove my face against his wet chest and fight the undertow.

I growl, “Do you know. How much. This suit cost.” 

“You and your fucking clothes, man.” He flips sopping tendrils from his face and grins, a little out of breath. “You didn’t have to follow me.”

“You knew I would.”

He rests his arms around my shoulders and presses his cheek to mine before staring out into black, black ocean. I’m warm everywhere—which is saying something considering I’m soaked to the bone in February—but the water actually feels all right plus a well fed Timmy and the abundance of … love or whatever. I might as well be a young marquis again, alive and fucking the entire kingdom.

But no, not really. Fucking one guy. The guy.

My hands move lower and cup his ass. “What are we supposed to do now? Dance all night in our underwear?” 

“Hard no,” he says over the sound of breaking waves, “considering I’m not wearing any underwear right now.”

I moan and squeeze his ass. “It’s a good thing I’m already dead, or you would have killed me by now.”

He leans down and kisses me. I’m reminded—again—of how soft he is everywhere. Even as my hands slide on ruined leather and even though his tongue tastes like salt, he’s cuddly as a koala bear. I’m lucky to be his tree. 

He pulls back, gripping my shoulders as waves threaten to knock us over. “I love you,” he says. 

“I know.”

“Thank you for …” he trails off while staring down at me from his perch on my waist.

“Thank me for what?”

He chews his bottom lip until I lift an eyebrow. Having seen my silent warning (that mouth is mine), he stops and just shakes his head before smiling at the sea. I admire the severe cut of his jawbone and shrug. 

Thank you for …

Yeah, might as well leave it open-ended, kid. We’ve got a couple happy lifetimes to fill.

THE END