I'm in the crunch time with the second PsiCorps books and it's running me a little ragged. I almost bowed out of doing T13 today, but along with wanting to keep my streak going, I realized someone else should get a chance to see what's been taking up my time and driving me absolutely crazy this week. It's unedited and un-numbered to avoid breaking the flow, but here you have it, Kittens. 13 Paragraphs(not counting dialog) from Dawn's Early Light.
The men fell silent. Riley looked at him. “I’m guessing it’s on their minds because we all thought you were going to sleep with Quintus last night. We had a huge discussion when he came to bed. I went to sleep before everyone else, so they probably had the initial discussion about our relationship then too. But that’s all pure—if accurate—speculation on my part.”
He skin flushed. He looked at Quintus and his heart sped up. “A huge discussion, really?” He gaze found Riley. “What’s huge in this context?”
“Only a couple of hours, it was pretty late.” Her expression changed. “I’m sorry; it must be odd being the only wizard in a house full of incubi who think they can freely talk about your sex life to your face, over breakfast no less.”
A house full of incubi, said as if it included her as well. He’d been told to never refer to her as anything but an incubus, or, if he couldn’t relate to the gender-neutral inclinations incubus had picked up over the generations, as a succubus. He’d also been told to never to ask her why. “Riley, I’m not the hippest, most slang-savvy person, so perhaps there are connotations I simply can’t see and have never learned. Why don’t you like being referred to as a vampire?”
The other men froze, Kincaid and Quintus went so far as to extend their abilities and shield Mackenzie. Before he could panic, Riley shrugged.
“It’s always depended on who was doing the referring. It’s what Torrin has always called me. And Quintus uses it in briefings and all the case paperwork because it’s accurate and immediately gives perspective. Sometime the perspective isn’t always good. When people know that there was violence as well as sex that sparked your abilities, some of them judge. It’s the same in knowing there was fear and sex for the djinn. They look at you and you can tell by the way they say vampire or djinn that they’re trying to figure out if you were the victim or the perpetrator.
“Not that I care, but I acknowledge it and I know that’s the reason hinted at in my file. But really, it’s just a word and as a word, I don’t mind it. I even think the terms are all accurate. Our legends of vampires, shifters, incubus, djinn, wizards, witches, fae, all of it, they were all powerful Psis who were misunderstood in their time period. Or if you listen to the conspiracy theories, they were all real and we’re their offspring with humankind, either way it wouldn’t change what we are. I’m a vampire by genes or legend, I don’t deny it. I used to like it.” She looked at Torrin. “I still like hearing it in the right circumstances, said with just the right emphasis and background sounds.”
Mackenzie shuddered as energy rippled between the two of them and caressed everyone at the table. When she turned back to him her eyes held the first faint signs of a trance glow.
She sighed, a warm, chocolate sound. “Ajay and I use it of course, it’s all he’s ever known himself to be and I don’t want to curb that.”
She reached up and smoothed his hair back into place. Mackenzie realized he’d given into the nervous gesture and run his hands over the short, neat locks.
“What else did my file say?” She put her hands in her lap.
“The part I’m authorized to read just says that PsiCorps did not find you right away when you came online. The neural network didn’t pick you up. Odd and ironic that’s it’s capable of overlooking some of us when that’s the entire reason they call getting your abilities coming online, but there you are.”
A smile broke free. “Did it actually have that little aside in my file in parenthesis, or are you personally frustrated with the current update proceedings for the neural network?”
“I just think if we’re going to spend billions of dollars to invade the public’s privacy, we could at least be more than 92% accurate about it. Pregnancy tests are 99% accurate and they only cost five dollars.” He waved his words away. “But never mind my politics.” He took a deep breath. “What happened?”
“Other vampires found me first. And no, they aren’t why I don’t use the word often; that happened the first time we had an exchange with the
Her face changed and Mackenzie was hard and ready so fast it brought pain as well as arousal.
“It means something primal and dark, something dangerous and succulent and covered in sex. When you use a word for yourself, others use it often around you and when they do, they provoke the power in that word. The power that they give that word.” She draped herself over him, inhaling his scent. “They ask you to do things, things they even don’t have words for but the images, mmmm, the images and scents, they don’t need words. The way someone’s pulse will race, beating against their neck or thigh, as if trying to reach out to you. The instant, salty-sweet scent of women and men all wet and hard and ready in the darkness for things they deny wanting in the daylight. You can taste it, heavy and waiting on your tongue and every time you roll it around in your mouth, they shudder like they can feel you lick along the rush of longing for things best forgotten, but always remembered. And the submission, Mackenzie, the sheer submission and surrender that comes forth from it all and what that does to someone like me.”
She pressed her forehead to his shoulder. “I don’t call myself a vampire to the general populous, so that I don’t hear them say it in turn and call to what’s beneath it. In contrast to PsiCorps’ belief that I dislike it, I in fact like it entirely too much for it to be safe for recreational use.” She leaned in and kissed his neck. He jumped. She laughed. “Tell me, Mac, why hasn’t a single bright, young mind at
He laughed in reply, a breathless, wanton sound, that he reined in. “It does, but I know you didn’t put it there, because it also says not to tell you that there’s a no-asking policy in your file. How did you know? It’s in the hardcopy, not the digital file.”
“Ajay told me. He tells me everything.” She nuzzled him. “Right now, so would you most likely. Why did you ask me?”
“I’m going to turn and kiss you any second.”
“Undoubtedly.” She licked his pulse. “Why did you ask me?”
Mackenzie tried to stall but couldn’t remember how. “To see if I could get away with it. Because if what you said was true, you wouldn’t be upset.”
“I’m not upset.”
For the first time in the months of being together, of growing closer, he wasn’t entirely sure about that, and that was the allure. It finally clicked why everyone danced so close to the edge, stepping in time to her mercurial nature. The heightened awareness had his heart in this throat and his body flooded his system with an adrenaline equivalent somewhere between, coming in public and petting a tiger.