Chapter 1



***Author note: When you are done reading this story, chat, flirt, and sexy talk with Remy on the author’s new A.I. website, BookishBoyfriend.com.



Taking a deep breath, I walked towards my father’s building. Each step echoed my thumping heartbeats. After years of neglect and abandonment, I was confronting him. I wanted answers, and a tiny, fragile part of me needed an apology.

The graffiti-filled, three-story brick building loomed in front of me. Holding my breath, I entered the narrow alley. Spilling into the backyard, I found the emergency exit.

To my surprise, pushing on it, I found that it had already been pried open. So, using the weight of my slender body, I leaned on it and forced my way in. 

How many childhood hours had I spent staring into my father’s window from across the street? Were the people I sometimes saw inside his family? Were they who he had chosen over me and my mom? 

Navigating up the damp, stained, concrete stairwell, I exited onto the top floor. Like the retail space at ground level, it looked empty. With dingy peeling wallpaper everywhere else, the only sign of life was the brightly painted door at the end of the hall.

Taking a moment to wipe my sweaty palms against my jeans, I steeled myself. Approaching it, the dull thud of my knock vibrated off the walls. Each echo was a gut punch.

Quickly, the door opened with a creak. On the other side was a pale figure, doused in the sterile glow of light spilling from behind him. This was my father. I had never seen him up close before. 

When he recognized me, his eyes bored into me.

“You,” he gritted out.

I saw no reflection of myself in the man standing in front of me. My refined features that guys had so often complemented me on were broken curves on him. My mixed-race caramel complexion didn’t hint to his fair-skin. And the unruly curls that defined my profile, lay dark, straight, and flat on his head.

Despite that, I knew who this man was. I had been told many times by my mother. It was time for him to say it too.

“Yeah, it’s me. Your son.” 

The words came out steadier than I anticipated. Each syllable brimmed with my years of pain, years of yearning for acknowledgment that never came.


Walking the streets of my old neighborhood, I looked up at the once-familiar buildings. This was Brownsville, Brooklyn, a place that was once home and now seemed so alien. I glared at the streetlights that pierced the inky darkness of the late-night. It cast eerie, elongated shadows that seemed to follow me. 

As I walked, my stomach churned. I shivered as a cold wind slithered its way down my collar. Goosebumps pricked my skin.

Why was I here? It was miles from my college apartment in New Jersey. And having moved from Brownsville during middle school, everyone walking the streets were strangers. The only person I knew who still lived here was,

“My father…” I muttered to myself. 

That’s right. I had come to finally confront the man I never knew. I had a plan for how I would pry open the emergency exit of his almost abandoned building and knock on his door. How could I have forgotten that?

Pivoting on the balls of my feet, I gritted my teeth and set my gaze on the bland three-story building that lay two blocks away. The ugly façade of my father’s apartment building gnawed at me as the reality of my impending confrontation set in.

My heart hammered in my chest. Sweat broke out on my palms as I neared the familiar but loathsome structure. It might’ve been an eyesore to everyone else, but for me, it was a symbol of the ignorance and indifference of the man who lived there.

Lifting my gaze, I spotted the glow of his lit apartment window. It pulled at old, familiar strings in my heart; a reminder of a simpler time when all I wanted was to cross that threshold. Countless times as a child, I’d stood yearning in front of it, but today, I wasn’t here to yearn. I was here for answers.

As if I knew it would be open, I rounded the building to the back door. The lock was lose as if it had been forced open many times. Ascending the stairs, it dawned on me how similar the stairwell looked to others. Why did it look so familiar? It was like I had been somewhere like it recently. But where?

Entering the hallway, I was overtaken by a similar feeling. Was it in a dream that I had seen this place? Throughout my childhood, I had had more than one dream that had come true. Was the feeling I was having an extension of that? It had to be, didn’t it?

Slowly crossing the hall, I approached the brightly painted door that for some reason felt burned into my mind. What was going on? Whatever it was, I wasn’t going to let it stop me. I had decided that this would be the day and it was.

Lifting my balled fist to knock on the door, it hit me. I had done this before. But that didn’t make sense. Never in my life had I spoken to the man my mother had said was my father. So, when I knocked and a sickly pale man opened the door and stared into my eyes, things made even less sense.

“What are you doing here?” The man spat in angry confusion.

“I’m your son,” I said determined.

“You will go away and never come back,” the man said peering into my soul almost replacing my thoughts for his own.

“No!” I said defiantly. “You’re going to answer my questions,” I declared as my heartbeats shot ripples of pain through my chest.

“I said, you will go and not come back!” my father insisted.

“And I said no,” I shout, fighting back the feeling that my thumping temples would explode.

As if retreating from my mind, my father took a step back. His retreat was like a cramp that suddenly subsided. 

“Now,” I began, almost out of breath, “You’re going to tell me why you left me and my mother. I’m not going anywhere until you do.”

I couldn’t tell if the look on my father’s face was terror or disgust, but it haunted me. There was darkness in it. Seeing it created another feeling in me. This one I couldn’t describe.

“You want to know why I left you and your mother?”

“That’s why I’m here. Tell me why you abandoned your son,” I said losing grip of the armor that guarded my heart.

“It’s because you’re not my son,” he screeched. 

“I am your son. I’ve always been your son.”

“You’re not. You’re an abomination!” he bellowed with conviction.

His words did something to me. The pain that was once in my temple came back twice as painfully. It was like there was a thought within me fighting to come out.

“I’m your son. I’m your son!” I insisted.

“You’re a spawn of the devil!” the pale man decried.

“I’m your son!” I kept repeating, grasping my head, trying to keep it from exploding.

“I’m not your father,” the old man said a final time before shoving me with the force of a wrecking ball onto the hallway wall behind me.

I collapsed in blinding agony as the door slammed shut in front of me. I felt like I was going insane. Without warning, my mind was awash in thoughts. The echoes only stayed long enough to touch before spiraling away replaced by another.

I couldn’t take it. It was tearing my brain apart. Moaning at first, I screamed. Screeching at the top of my lungs, it was like a miracle when it all stopped. With only the scars left behind, it was suddenly all gone.

Scared to open my eyes, I did. As if the headache had possessed my vision, everything looked different. It was like I had opened my eyes at the public pool. The hazy world around me glistened. And as my sight slowly returned, I noticed something that somehow I hadn’t.

The floor of the hallway ending at my father’s door was burnt. Worn to the texture of charcoal, it was covered in ash. 

This wasn’t right. Something had changed. There was something different rattling around inside of me. And without a moment of doubt, I knew my father could tell me what it was.

As if it hadn’t been closed, I touched the door and it flew open. The interior of the apartment was now different. Everything from floor to ceiling was burnt. It looked gutted by flames and the only thing that wasn’t was the man I had cried at night hoping would acknowledge me. 

He wasn’t only that man, however. The image of my father was a ghostly hologram that masked the creature beneath it. Bent and malformed, the person I had known wasn’t a man at all. 

Growing up, my best friend, Hil, was a wolf shifter. Knowing what he and his family were challenged my belief of what was possible. How could humans who shifted into animals exist? More extraordinary than that, how could vampires?

“You’re a vampire,” I said before I knew what I was saying.

The man stared at me dumbfounded. 

“You’re not my father. You can’t be.”

As if the image before me swept away, I stood across the room as my father and mother shared a bed. At first it looked like the two were having sex, but they weren’t.

“You fed on my mother. You compelled her to believe she was pregnant?” I said as the film strip in front of me continued to roll. “But why?”

“I did what my masters told me to do,” the decrepit creature replied with building fear.

“If you’re a vampire and vampires can’t bear children, what am I?”

“My masters’ spawn,” he hissed. “An abomination.”

“You’re scared,” I suddenly knew. “You’re scared of everything. You hide here scared of the wolves who run the city. You fear the vampires who sired you. And most of all.” I stopped in realization. “You’re afraid of me. I’ve confronted you before. You compelled me to forget. But, you never tried to hurt me or my mother because… You’re afraid of what they will do to you.”

I looked away when the confusion overwhelmed me. Who was the “they” I was referring to? Could it be a demon? Was I a spawn of the devil like my father had implied?

Wait, he wasn’t my father. Vampires can’t have children. He compelled my mother to believe she was pregnant so I could exist.

When I looked back up, the man who I had thought was my father, had disappeared. With him gone, the room slowly faded back to normal. Whatever sight I had had was gone.

How long had I turned away for? Had the vampire compelled me again so he could escape? And more importantly, what was I? I certainly wasn’t human. Nor was I my father’s son. 

I had come here for answers and now I had even more questions. Who was I? Where had I come from? And, why was it that no matter what I did, I was still a guy who no one loved?



Chapter 2



I stood in my father’s once grand office, now transformed into a makeshift hospice room. Hil and my mother were next to me, all of us looking down at our father’s lifeless body. The silence was suffocating, broken only by the soft sobs of my mother trying to hold back her tears.

Heartbreak washed over me. But gazing over the shadows cast on my father’s face by the dim light, I felt more than that. His was a mixed legacy. I had spent my life proving my worth to him, my alpha. And I had done things I wasn’t proud of. Now that he was gone, I wondered if it had all been for nothing.

Hil broke the silence. “I’ll organize the funeral. I want to do this for Father,” he said, his voice wavering with emotion. I could tell he was still desperate for our father’s approval, even after his death.

I glanced at him, my heart aching for my brother who had tried so hard to escape the life of crime our family had been born into. He hadn’t been built for it like I was. Unlike me, he had never been able to hide his attraction to men. It hung around his neck like a scarlet letter. To my father’s credit, he never judged Hil for it. But when my father and I were alone, he didn’t hide his disappointment.

It wasn’t for what Hil wanted to do with other men. It was that my father believed that his attractions were what was keeping him from shifting. “Gay wolf shifters weren’t meant to exist,” he once told me. “The Gods wouldn’t allow it.”

My shifting made that theory a hell of a lot more complicated. Yeah, I wasn’t gay, but neither was I straight. I was in that happy middle ground. Would my father say that that was why I took so long to have my first shift and not because my mother was human?

In either case, my father was right about one thing, our unforgiving world was hard to survive without access to your wolf. Other alphas wanted my father dead. Given the way Father claimed his power, I understood why. 

That meant that no one in our family was safe. Hil, his sensitive human son, would always need someone to keep him alive. As our pack’s alpha, Father had no problem in doing that, even as he made clear that he wanted an heir who could take care of himself.

That was what I became for him. I took care of myself. Always unsure of when the pass he gave Hil would end, I soon took care of Hil too. I didn’t mind. He was my little brother. It was my job. But having to be the wolf my father wanted me to be took its toll.

“Thank you, Hil,” I said, my voice betraying the pain I felt. 

My mother reached over and squeezed my hand, her touch tingling with a mix of sadness and gratitude. I could see the hope in her eyes for a better future, free from the violence and danger that had plagued our pack for so long.

My thoughts drifted to the pact I had made with Armand Clément, my father’s most vicious rival. I had agreed to hand over my father’s illegal businesses to him in exchange for keeping the legal ones and securing the protection of my pack. 

My father’s wolves would become Armand’s and my true pack would be free from the criminal underworld. It was a desperate gamble, but I couldn’t stand the thought of replacing my father as his pack’s alpha. Not with the attractions that I had and a brother like Hil. 

How many of my father’s wolves would I have to kill before they yielded to me? I had no doubt that I would defeat them. But, I wanted a different direction for my pack. 

Besides, our family already had so much to make amends for. At some point, I was going to need to figure out how to give back to the community. Father’s obsession with power had caused a lot of pain. That couldn’t be my family’s only gift to the world. Wolf shifters were more than just human nightmares.

It was then that Dillon flashed through my mind. He was Hil’s human best friend and the boy whose presence never let me forget that I wasn’t straight. His lean lines, his lightly tanned skin, his loosely curly hair that I dreamed about pushing my fingers through.

They all turned me into a wolf who dreamed every night about nuzzling him. A guy who fantasized about sliding my hand up his tee shirt and wrapping my large hands around his narrow chest. He was my anchor in my father’s turbulent seas and now, the ocean that kept me from Dillon lay in front of me, dead, missed, and regretted.

Excusing myself before my family saw the smile that slowly crept across my face, I headed to my childhood bedroom. I couldn’t wait another second. I needed to hear his voice. My wolf paced at the thought. I had to call him. 

Retrieving my phone, I found his number. Taking a deep breath, I dialed. My heart pounded in anticipation. The phone rang and my palms grew sweaty.

“Hello?” Dillon’s voice came over the line, warm and soothing as always.

“Hey, Dillon, it’s Remy.” I tried to keep my voice steady as I spoke. “I just wanted to let you know that my father… he passed away.”

“Oh, Remy, I’m so sorry.” Like all of us, he had known it was coming. But his empathy washed over me like a comforting wave. “How are you holding up?”

My throat tightened as I struggled to maintain my composure. “I’m… managing,” I admitted, the weight of my emotions threatening to spill over. Desperate to regain control, I swiftly changed the subject. “Listen, I was wondering if you could help me with something.”

“Of course. What is it?”

“Hil said that he wants to make the funeral arrangements. I think he could really use your support right now.”

There was a pause on the other end before Dillon softly agreed. “You didn’t have to ask that, Remy. I’ll do whatever I can to help.”

The silence that followed was heavy with unspoken words, my heart aching to tell him the truth about my feelings for him. But I couldn’t bring myself to say it, not yet. 

“Thanks. I always know I can count on you,” I said with a smile.

“It’s no problem, Remy. I like being able to help you… and Hil,” he reassured me, his voice filled with genuine care. “We’ll all get through this together. Just let me know what you need.”

I nodded, even though he couldn’t see me. “I appreciate it.”

“I know,” he said assuredly.

As I hung up the phone, I wondered what I was doing. I didn’t have to restrain myself to two-minute conversations with him anymore. I was free. I didn’t know how he felt about me, but I no longer had to hide my feelings for him. It was time for me to tell him. 

Heat washed through me and my wolf, considering it. It was a mixture of terror and exhilaration.

“After the funeral,” I said aloud. “My new life begins at the end of my old one.”

I could barely imagine living without hiding and secrets, but here it was. I was going to embrace the truth and see where it would take us. Was being with Dillon really going to be that simple? I didn’t know, but I was about to find out.



Chapter 3



Ending the call with Remy, I stood in my apartment with my saddle bag still over my shoulder. I had just walked in having returned from confronting the vampire who I had thought was my father. How perfect was it that Remy’s was the first voice I had heard? I could no longer feel my face. 

Had Remy just called me? I wondered as my heart raced, washing away the confusion from an hour ago. What had been the purpose of his call?

He had said it was to get me to help Hil, but he had to have known I would have done that anyway. No, there had to be more to it than that. Was he seeking comfort for his father’s death? Because as much as I have wanted us to be, Remy and I weren’t that close. 

So, could the reason for his call be something else? Could it be that he was secretly in love with me and that I hadn’t been crazy all of these years for dreaming that he was?

It was because of Remy that I confronted who I thought was my father. Well, not directly because of him. But it was because I had interacted with Remy so much while Hil was missing that I had noticed the gaping hole in my life. Could it have been the same for him?

Thinking about it, I immediately remembered the many reasons Remy would have no interest in someone like me. For starters, although I wasn’t normally a complete mess, around him, I was. There were two months after Hil and I became friends where I couldn’t even form words in his presence. 

I was 14 years old, not 10. And yeah, he was super-hot, even before he could turn into a wolf. But there was no reason I should have lost the ability to speak around him. 

Then there was the time Remy caught Hil and me watching gay porn in Hil’s room. I had asked Hil if he had locked the door, and he assured me he had. So, when Remy burst in, finding us with our dicks in hand, I could have passed out.

And finally, let’s not forget the time when I was 16 and Hil’s parents let me stay at their place while Hil’s family took my mother on vacation with them. I had school so I couldn’t go, but thinking I had the place to myself, I had a one-man naked dance party in their penthouse, complete with towel turban and hairbrush microphone. 

Remy chose that moment to come by and check on the place. It wouldn’t have been so bad if little Dillon hadn’t been so excited to be out. But who could blame the guy? Show me someone who doesn’t like to bounce to the beat of ‘Bad Romance’ and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t know how to live.

My cheeks burned at the memories. But as I always did, I reminded myself that the humiliation I experienced in front of Remy didn’t matter. Because as much as I liked to fantasize about it, a guy like Remy, with his Greek God build, gorgeous hair, and alpha princeling status, couldn’t possibly be attracted to guys, much less a human like me. 

Besides, this wasn’t the time for fantasies. I had a lot going on. I had just found out that I wasn’t human and I had no idea what I was. How was I supposed to deal with that?

Additionally, my best friend, Hil, was going through a difficult time. Despite their complicated relationship, I knew how much he loved his father. Yes, his father had locked him away in their penthouse never allowing Hil to have a social life outside of me. But that wasn’t because his father was a monster. Wolf shifters who run mafias have a dangerous life.

And, it wasn’t like his father was wrong. The one time Hil escaped his family’s protection, he ended up being kidnapped by one of his father’s rivals. Remy and Hil’s wolf shifter boyfriend, Cali, had had to rescue him. The guy shot Cali in exchange for letting Hil go. Cali was alright, but still. Hil and Remy lived in a crazy world and his father had had to protect Hil from it.

On the other hand, when it became clear that Hil was gay, his incredibly scary father accepted him for who he was. Hil told me that never once did his father make him feel bad for who he was attracted to. Hell, his parents even introduced the two of us and it wasn’t like anyone ever mistook me for straight. 

So, despite everything, Hil’s father had been a way better dad than mine had ever been. And now his father was gone. My heart ached for him.

Taking a deep breath, I promised myself to set aside the mystery of who I was and any feelings I had for Remy to focus on being there for Hil in the coming weeks. And as the tingles I always got from thinking of Remy subsided, I again picked up my phone.

I wasn’t sure why I was nervous, but dialing Hil’s number, my heart pounded. When the call connected, Hil’s voice was shaky.

“Hey, Dillon.”

“Hey, Hil… I just heard about your father.”

There was a slight pause. “Really? How?”

“Remy just told me,” I said wanting so badly to share how amazing it was that he had. 

“Oh. Yeah.”

“I’m so sorry, Hil. How are you doing?” I said wishing I could reach through the phone and hug him.

“It’s just so hard to accept that he’s gone.”

“I can’t even imagine. But I’m here for you, okay? Whatever you need, I’ll be there.”

Hil sighed, his voice cracking ever so slightly. “I appreciate that. I told Remy I wanted to handle the funeral.”

“Wow, that’s a lot.”

“Yeah, but I told Cali I was planning to and he asked if he could help me with it. So, I’ll be leaning on him for most things.”

“That’s great.”

“Yeah,” he said followed by a pause.

“What is it?”

“There is something you can help me with, though.” 

“Of course! Anything. Just tell me when and where.”


The next day, Hil and I found ourselves in a boutique urn store. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. But there was and here we were.

The place exuded a somber elegance, with soft lighting casting a warm glow on the polished, hand-painted vessels. Being there, shopping for the last resting place of Hil’s father, felt surreal. It wasn’t just for the significance of it, it was also for the price tags.

With all due respect, urns were just vases with tops. How could one cost $22,000? Sure, it was marble with adorned gold filigree… whatever that was. But I could barely afford the bus I took here. 

As we drifted through the aisles browsing the diamond urn collection, the topic of our conversation shifted from his father to Remy. I wasn’t the one who had changed it. But I wasn’t about to pass up on an opportunity to add material to my spank-box… when such a thing again became appropriate to do… to the thought of your best friend’s brother.

“I think I’ve come to peace with Father liking Remy best. I mean, I get it. He has my father’s need to take care of everyone. He even had it as a kid. 

“There were times when we were growing up that he would do the worst big brother crap to me. But if you asked who I thought would protect me if something bad happened, it wouldn’t be a question. It would be him.”

I nodded, understanding how much Remy meant to Hil. “He’s always been there for you, hasn’t he?”

“Yeah, but at the same time, I can’t help but worry about him.”

“Why’s that?” I asked, my curiosity piqued.

Hil sighed, running a hand through his hair. “I just don’t think he’ll ever be able to leave pack life behind.”

“And by “pack life” you mean your family’s business?

“Yeah. And I know he made the deal that’s supposed to free us, but I’m not sure there’s any way out.”

“You got out,” I said referring to Hil’s new small-town life with his boyfriend in Tennessee.

“I did, but I was never a part of that side of my father’s pack. My father once told Remy and me that the only way to leave his world was in a body bag. I don’t think Remy could get out if he tried.”

I frowned, not wanting to believe that. “I think with the right person by his side, he could definitely leave that life behind.”

Hil glanced at me, his expression unreadable. “Dillon, are you talking about yourself?”

I hesitated, realizing how it must have sounded. “Well, I mean, not just me. But someone who cares about him and wants to see him happy.”

Hil shifted uncomfortably, clearly not liking the idea. “Can I ask you a serious question? Because I know you like to joke about things.”

“Of course you can. What is it?”

“Do you really think you and Remy…”

As soon as he began saying it, my face felt like it was on fire. I wasn’t sure if I was embarrassed or just hurt, but I couldn’t take hearing him finish what he was about to say. 

“I mean, why not?” I interrupted. “Is it so ridiculous to think that I could be good for him?”

“No, Dillon, it’s not that.” Hil sighed, his voice strained. “I think he’s not good for you. You’re the greatest person I know. What if something were to happen between the two of you? The best-case scenario is that he drags you into his insane world. 

“Dillon, I’ve spent my entire life planning my escape from that place. You could end up majorly regretting being with Remy.” Hil picked up an urn and held it between us. “Or worse,” he said with sadness in his eyes.

Looking down at the glorified jar, a shiver ran down my spine. But even with what Hil said, I couldn’t shake my belief in Remy. 

“Hil, if something were ever to happen between me and Remy, he would protect me just like he protects you. Didn’t you say that’s what he does? Do you think he could stop protecting people if he tried?”

Again finding Hil’s eyes, I saw his frustration. As we returned to browsing, I thought the conversation was over. 

“Do you even know if Remy’s into guys, much less humans?” Hil suddenly blurted out louder than any one should in an urn store. 

Instead of answering, I thought about all of the stolen glances and lingering touches that had fueled my fantasies over the years. 

“First, there have been moments when it’s just been the two of us that have made me think he could be,” I said honestly.

Hil raised an eyebrow. “Wait, when have you two ever been alone together?”

“It’s not been often,” I admitted, “but it’s happened over the years. And sometimes when it does, he looks at me in a way that can’t be straight.”

Hil still seemed skeptical.

“Secondly,” I said unsure if this was the time to tell him.

“Secondly, what?”

“Secondly, I don’t think I’m human. Scratch that. I’m pretty sure I’m not,” I said hesitantly.

Hil’s skepticism changed to confusion.

“What are you talking about?”

“I didn’t tell you this, but I decided to confront my father.”

“Confront your father? What do you mean?”

“I’ve never talked to you about this before, but I’ve never actually spoken to my father.”

“What?” Hil said confused and horrified.

“Yeah. It’s kind of a painful topic, so I’ve always avoided it.”

Hil looked dumbfounded. “When did you confront him?”

“Last night.”

“We talked on the phone. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because your father had just died.”

“You could have still told me. Confronting your father is a big deal.”

“Yeah. It’s even bigger when you add that the man I thought was my father was just a vampire who compelled my mother into believing she was pregnant and that I’ve seemed to develop powers.”

Hil mouth dropped open.

“What powers do you have?”

I looked at Hil wondering how I could explain it. 

“I can tell you’re a wolf.”

Hil looked around to make sure no one was listening. “But you know I’m a wolf.”

“I know it. But now I can see it.”

“What do you mean?”

I paused and concentrated on Hil.

“When I squint, I see you, but I can also see a wolf made of light that’s standing where you are.”

“Like, on top of me.”

“It’s like you two are standing in the same spot.”

“Okay. Have you seen this with other people?”

“I saw it with my father… or, the man I thought was my father. But for him it was different. In your case, you are the real image and your wolf is the light casting. In his case, the person everyone saw was the light casting, and the creature within it was the real him.”

“And you think he was a vampire?”

“I’m sure he was.”


“I just know.”

“And he told you that he compelled your mother to believe she was pregnant? Why would he do that?”

“He said he did it because his masters told him to,” I said ominously.

“Well, that’s disturbing.”

“Tell me about it. So, not only am I not human, but I have no idea what I am or why someone would make my mother believe she was pregnant.”

“It was so she could think you were her child,” Hil said confidently.

I paused to think about that. “So, you’re telling me that my mother isn’t really my mother either?”

Hil looked at me with compassion. “I’m sorry, Dillon.”

“Crap,” I said overwhelmed by everything.

As I became lost in my spiraling thoughts, Hil picked up an urn.

“This one,” he said holding up one that screamed stately elegance. “What do you think?”

“It’s beautiful,” I said struggling to return to my grieving friend. “I think your father would like it.”

“I’ll get it,” he said confidently. “And Dillon, don’t worry. I’ll help you figure out what you are. I’ve met people in Cali’s town who know about stuff like this.” Hil hesitated. “Which means that you don’t have to get involved with Remy to find out.”

Hil had seen straight through me. 

“What if he knows something that your friends don’t? When I was in the vampire’s mind…”

“You were in his mind!” Hil interrupted me to say.

“Yeah. It was like I was reading his thoughts or seeing his history or something. Anyway, when I was doing it, I saw that he was scared of the wolves that ran the city. That used to be your father, right?”

“I guess.”

“So, wouldn’t it make sense that I should talk to Remy about it?”

Hil looked at me with empathy and took my hands in his.

“I know how Remy looks and how charming he can be. But I promise you, it comes at a cost. I couldn’t take it if I lost you too.”

Looking at him I saw the pain in his eyes. Pulling him into my arms I said, “I love you, Hil. I’ll always be here for you. No matter what.”

“I couldn’t take losing you,” he repeated hugging me back.

But holding my best friend in my arms, I came to a decision. As much as I loved HIl and cared about how he felt, and as overwhelming as my identity crisis was, I couldn’t ignore how I felt about Remy. 

The vampire’s reference to the wolves had given me an excuse to talk to Remy, to maybe connect with him over it. So, I was going to use it to find out how he felt about me. 

If he wasn’t into guys, then fine. I would accept it and move on. But if there was a chance he felt the same, I had to take it. 

A few months ago Hil took a risk by disappearing on everyone who loved him. That risk led to him finding the guy he’ll spend the rest of his life with. If Remy was that for me, I had to know. And I was going to make my first move after the funeral.



Chapter 4



Glancing around the tastefully decorated conference room of the building I grew up in, I took in the soft lighting and elegant flower arrangements adorning the tables. The mood was heavy with a mix of grief and nostalgia, but it still felt like the celebration of life that it was supposed to be.

Surveying the guests, I spotted my drugged yet surprisingly sociable mother. She had been handling this better than expected. The miracles of modern pharmaceuticals, am I right? 

Past her was my brother, Hil, and his boyfriend, Cali. Seeing Cali always brought a smile to my face. The back woods wolf shifter, who had the balls to openly date a guy, was amazingly easy to fluster. That made teasing him so fun.

‘Let’s see, what was I going to call him today?’ I wondered, walking over to them. Hillbilly? No, I called him that the last time. Redneck? Overused. Tractor-chaser? Mudflap-magnet? Flannel-fucker?

Approaching my grieving brother, I clutched his shoulder and squeezed. 

“You did a great job with the wake, Hil. You really did. Everyone’s impressed. Dad would have loved it.” 

Before Hil could respond, I turned to Cali. “And in this situation, a great job means that he didn’t put a single picture of cousins kissing anywhere in the place. I know that’s weird for you.”

“Remy!” Hil protested.

“What?” I asked innocently. “I was ensuring that your Redneck Prince here could follow the conversation. I was being inclusive.”

Cali stuttered, wanting to respond but knowing he couldn’t out of respect for the occasion. The tortured look in his eyes brought me endless joy.

“Remy, that’s not funny,” Hil snapped.

I feigned being hurt. “Hil, you’re gonna yell at me today? Here? We’re at our father’s wake. Hil, I’m grieving,” I said hoping my smirk wasn’t lingering.

Hil, at a loss for words, quieted long enough for me to look over his shoulder. Behind him, standing by himself, was Dillon. He had been watching us. When our eyes met, my wolf perked up.

As he lifted his glass to his lips, he looked away. But it was too late. My wolf was hooked. And for the first time since we had met, I was free to get what I wanted, which was, more of him.

“Remy, all I’m saying is…”

“…that you have no empathy for my grief. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, but could we pick this up a little later? I have heartbroken guests I need to attend to,” I told my little brother, feeling rejuvenated.

Crossing the room to the man I had wanted for so long, I realized that this was it. I was going to tell him how I felt. I knew I should have been nervous, but I wasn’t. The life I had dreamed of and had planned for for years was within my sights. I couldn’t wait for it to begin.

Approaching Dillon, I couldn’t help but smile. 

“Thank you for being here,” I said genuinely.

“Of course,” Dillon replied, his brown eyes soft and sincere. “If there’s anything I can do to help, just let me know.”

My mind teetered on the edge of inappropriate thoughts, but I reined myself in. “Actually, there’s something I need to discuss with you.”

Dillon looked amused. “That’s funny because there’s something I need to discuss with you. But you should go first.”

“Really?” I asked surprised. “In that case, please take the floor,” I insisted politely.

“No, go first. Mine can wait.”

“No, no. I think you should go first,” I said showing him the type of boyfriend I would be to him. 

“Remy, please,” he said touching my forearm. 

Heat washed through me arousing my wolf. There was no way I could resist his request now.

“You know what? You’re right. What I have to say might influence what you have to say, so I should go first.”

“Oh!” Dillon said taken aback. “Okay,” he agreed nervously.

I straightened up, seriousness washing over my face. “I’ve been thinking about you… about us. And… I don’t know.”

With his tan complexion turning bright red, he put his delicate fingers on my chest. “Wait, before you do, I need to tell you this.”

“No, really, I should tell you this first.”

Dillon insisted, “Don’t say it until I say what I have to say.”

“Oh, shit!”

“It’s not bad. I promise,” Dillon assured me before noticing that I was looking at something behind him. “What’s wrong?” 

“I’ll be back in a minute and I promise you we’ll continue this conversation,” I said, reluctantly tearing myself away from him.

Crossing the room with my wolf ready to take over, I headed toward Armand Clément, my father’s greatest rival and the alpha with whom I made my deal. In exchange for my release from the mafia world, I agreed to give him my father’s illegal businesses. 

For it, I would keep the businesses I had created from scratch. On top of that, his pack would offer my family its protection. I had considered it a win-win. He got what he and my father had shed blood over, and I would be free to have what I had built… and Dillon. 

Hil, my mother, and I would owe him nothing else. We would never have to see him again. 

Yet, here he was flanked by two of his henchmen and a stunning blonde who was young enough to be his daughter. Fighting back my urge to shift and tear him and his wolf apart, I approached him standing close enough to smell his changes in scent.

“What are you doing here, Armand?” I asked not giving him an inch.

“Remy, I’m here to pay my respects,” he replied with a hint of sarcasm.

“Bullshit. If you wanted to show your respect you wouldn’t have stepped foot onto my father’s territory.”

“But this isn’t your father’s territory anymore. It’s mine. It’s all mine. Thanks to you.”

“And our deal was that you would back off and let us live our lives.”

“No,” Armand corrected with a smirk. “Our deal was that I would treat you like a member of my pack. So, I’m here… for my pack.”

I stared at his smug face wanting to bury my wolf’s teeth into it. I couldn’t, though. Not here. Not now. 

“Cut the crap and get to the point, Armand. Why are you here?”

The scar-faced man with a body built on indulgence, released a snake of a smile. 

“That’s why I like you. You always get right to business. Okay, here it is. I’ve been doing some research. It turns out that the businesses I allowed you to keep are worth a bit more than I would have guessed. My accounts say more than a billion.”

“You mean the businesses I built from scratch without my father’s help.”

“No, I mean the ones that you built on the back of your father’s empire—an empire that is now mine.” 

“That’s not the way it worked. My father had nothing to do with my companies.”

“But his money did. Money that came out of the blood of my pack, at my expense.”

I clenched my fists, struggling to keep my wolf calm. “Armand, I gave you everything else. What more do you want?” I demanded.

His eyes glinted with mischief. “Actually, what I want is to make you a generous offer. I won’t ask you for the share of your businesses that many would say I deserve. Instead, I’ll give you a way to ensure that no harm will ever come to anyone you love.”

“And how’s that?”

“By uniting our families.” He gestured to the young woman standing beside him. “I want you to marry my daughter, Eris.”

I stared at him stunned, then laughed. “You’ve gotta be kidding.”

Armand’s face hardened. “This is not a joke, Remy. Marry my daughter and our families will be connected by more than just business. I don’t offer this deal lightly. Refuse and I will take it as a great insult.”

My gaze traveled from Armand to the beautiful woman beside him, then to Dillon, who was watching intently from across the room. I knew what Armand was suggesting, but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t. 

“Look, I appreciate the… offer, but I can’t marry your daughter.”

His eyes narrowed. “I suggest you reconsider, Remy. You don’t want to insult me. Not about this. If you did, there will be… consequences.”

Hearing his threat, my wolf readied itself. Quickly weighing my options, I looked around the room again. I was in an impossible position. I couldn’t risk the safety of my family, nor could I put Dillon in danger. But marrying Eris would mean giving up any chance I had with Dillon, the man I loved.

How could I do this? I couldn’t do it. But how could I not do it?

Armand’s meaty hands clutched my bicep pulling me aside and snapping me back to reality. I was about to tell him to go to hell and face the consequences when he lowered his voice speaking from one wolf to another.

“I can see that you’re torn. Maybe there’s someone else you would prefer to be with?”

“Get to your point,” I insisted not about to discuss my feelings for another guy with him.

“My point is that we are alpha’s even if one of us doesn’t have a pack. And wolves like us can’t be contained. I wouldn’t expect you to be. All I would expect from you is a wedding and an heir. Past that, who is to say what you do? Live your life without insult to me and I wouldn’t care what your wolf gets into.”

I stared at Armand stunned. Was he proposing that I cheat on his daughter?

“In my pack, it’s a tradition,” he confirmed making me hate him more.

My wolf raced fueled by anger and helplessness. I again considered refusing when I looked at his henchman. His scent told me he was on the verge of shifting. So was his partner. Armand had come ready for bloodshed. I couldn’t let that happen in a room full of people I cared about… and Cali.

With my thoughts racing towards panic, I gritted my teeth and said, “All right!” It came out before I knew what I was saying.

“What was that?”

My jaw clenched after taking a moment to consider the situation. He had me. 

“I’ll marry your daughter,” I told him stunned by the words coming out of my mouth.

Armand’s smug smile returned. Quickly walking away from me, he addressed the room commanding everyone’s attention.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I have great respect for the man we are here to honor today. We might have had our differences but the time for disagreements is over. 

“To that end, I would like to announce happy news on an otherwise sad day. It is the engagement of my daughter, Eris, to Remy Lyon, a union that will allow peace and prosperity to flourish for all. Let our once bitter rivalry end here and let our great families now become one. 

“Let’s hear it for the new couple,” he demanded smiling from ear to ear.

Polite, confused applause filled the room. Disbelief was etched on my family’s faces. It was surreal. What had I done? The reality of my decision didn’t hit me until a shocked Dillon caught my eye. His disappointment and hurt were inescapable.

The tingling excitement I’d felt about talking to him was gone. Replacing it was a hollow, aching emptiness. I’d given up my chance at love. And for what?

But staring at him, I realized that after coming so close to having him, I couldn’t just let him go. Even if I couldn’t be with him, I had to have him near me. I knew I had to offer him something. 

“Dillon,” I called out, as he headed for the back door looking like he was about to cry. He stopped. Catching up to him, I wrapped my hand around his bicep. He was so small. Pulling him close, he refused to look at me.

“Is that what you were gonna tell me? That you were gonna marry that woman?” he spat mired in jealousy.

“No. It wasn’t that at all.”

“So you just weren’t gonna say anything about it?” he said finally looking me in the eyes.

“That’s not what I meant.”

“What then?”

He had a point. What was I going to tell him? Should I tell him that I had just sold my soul for the life of everyone in here? It was the truth. But not even I had such a martyr complex.

No, I had had other options and I had made my choice. Now I had to live with it. But that didn’t mean I would let Dillon go. According to Armand, I didn’t even have to. Though, my proposal for him to be my boyfriend probably had to change.  

“Would you consider working for me? I could use someone I trust in my businesses.”

He hesitated, his gaze locked on mine. Caught off guard, he looked confused. 

“Remy, you know I’m still in college, right? I’ve got at least a year left before I graduate.”

“But, it’s about to be summer break, isn’t it? And when you graduate, you’re gonna need work experience. So, to that end, I would like to hire you as my…”

“…your secretary?” Dillon interjected. 

I looked at him surprised by his modest assumption. I had come up with the idea on the fly so I didn’t actually know what I was going to propose. But it helped to know his expectations.  

“No,” I retorted. “My assistant. You’ll help me on a daily basis and I’ll have access to you whenever I need you.”

“Sounds like a secretary to me,” Dillon persisted. 

I shook my head, “It’s not.” 

“Would I be sitting at a desk outside your office?”

The thought of being able to look up at any time and see him instantly made my cock hard. “Absolutely. That part is non-negotiable.”

“That’s a secretary,” he concluded still not hinting how he felt about the idea. 

“Call it what you will. The only thing that matters to me is, do you accept?”



Chapter 5



I sat in the chic Soho coffee shop, rubbing my sweating palms against my jeans, waiting for Hil. My heart raced, wondering what he’d say about me accepting Remy’s job offer. He’d been right about Remy not leaving the Mafia world behind. And now I was willingly entering it.

The coffee shop was a blend of modern and vintage, with exposed brick walls, sleek leather seating, and a warm, inviting atmosphere. It was a place we had frequented as kids. So many of our summer afternoons were spent here sipping coffee, imaging ourselves more grown up than we were with Hil’s bodyguard a booth away. 

As it was with the vampire, I saw the same memory go through Hil’s mind when he entered. Giving him a nervous smile when his gaze settled on me, he made his way over. 

“I chose this place because I thought it’d bring back a few memories,” I told him as he sat down.

Hil looked around, taking in the familiar surroundings. I again saw the film strip of our time here play. This time it had started without effort. It was like the barrier between me and my ability was wearing away.

“If it weren’t for you, I would know nothing about New York,” he admitted. “We used to come here pretending to be adults. Now I’m living with my boyfriend and you’re a year away from graduating college. It’s weird.”

“Yeah. Weird,” I said with a chuckle, the nostalgia warming me despite my anxiety. 

Taking a deep breath, I soaked in the last of our old dynamic and said, “Hil, Remy offered me a job.”

His expression remained unreadable. “You shouldn’t take it, Dillon,” he said firmly.

My eyes welled up. Looking at my lap, I muttered, “Okay.” 

A tear slipped down my cheek, and Hil’s hand reached out to comfort me. 

“Why are you crying?” he asked softly.

I sniffled, meeting his gaze. “Why do you think I’m not good enough for your family?”

Hil sighed, his eyes filling with concern. 

“That’s not it at all, Dillon. That’s not it at all. My whole life, I’ve felt trapped in my family’s crazy life. I don’t want you to join me in this cell.” He paused, reminiscing. “You don’t know what it was like growing up in that penthouse cage, where the only friend I had befriended me out of pity.”

I shook my head, denying his claim. “That’s not why we’re friends, Hil. We’re friends because I love you.” My voice trembled as I continued, “And I’m really tired of being your family’s charity case. I’m grateful for it. Don’t think I’m not. But I want to stand on my own. 

“If I accepted Remy’s offer, maybe I could do that. And maybe if I earned my way, I could take you out instead of always depending on your generosity.”

Having heard what I said, Hil wiped his eyes, sniffling. 

“I don’t want you to get involved with Remy, Dillon. And it’s not because you’re not good enough for our family. I already think of you as a brother.”

“Then, I don’t understand. Why don’t you want us together?”

“It’s because I need you, Dillon. And I know if you got involved with him, he’ll do something that will get you hurt. Once that happens, you’ll realize you’re too good for people like us, and then… you won’t want to be friends with me anymore,” he admitted as his tears continued to flow.

“I know it’s selfish, but I couldn’t stand to be alone again, Dillon,” Hil added, his voice cracking. “And you’re all I have. I don’t want to lose you.”

I reached out and squeezed his hand. “Hil, nothing will ever break up our friendship. And you’ll never be alone again. Not only do you have Cali but I’m not going anywhere. I promise.”

Hil smiled through his tears, nodding. “I’m so lucky to have you both. But please, promise me you won’t get involved with Remy. I’ll do anything. If you need more money, I can get the scholarship committee to increase your stipend. If it’s about researching what you are, I’ll be returning to Cali’s in a few days. I’ll start asking around as soon as I do.”

I shook my head. “It’s neither of those things, Hil. I want to start earning my own money. And I want to take Remy’s job offer with your blessing.”

Hil hesitated for a moment, then finally gave in. “Alright, Dillon. You have my blessing. But promise me one thing – don’t fall for my brother’s charms.”

I smiled. “I promise.”

“Thank you,” he said leaning in and hugging me.

Holding him, I looked around at the place we had once pretended to be adults and wondered if I had made a promise I could keep. 


A week after accepting Remy’s job offer, I walked into his stylish Brooklyn brownstone for my first day. I didn’t know what to expect but when Remy stepped out of his office to greet me, my thin suit pants couldn’t hide my excitement. 

Remy’s 6’2″ muscular frame filled out a crisp white shirt like it had been painted onto him. And with his sleeves rolled up, his forearm tattoos were on full display. I could barely speak, feeling a wave of desire wash over me. It was like I was 14 again, uncontrollable boners and all.

“Dillon, I’m so excited to finally have you…”

“… here?” I stuttered.

“Where ever you’d like,” he replied with a smile and enough suggestion to drop me to my knees. “Now, the first item on our agenda, come with me,” he said quickly changing to a serious tone.

“Where are we going?” I asked, my voice sounding weak as I barely had time to set down my belongings.

“We’re doing a walking meeting. That sounds professional, right? Yes, we’re doing a professional walking meeting,” he said, leading me back outside.

“Will I need to take notes?” I replied reaching for my phone and some semblance of professionalism.

As I pulled it out and navigated to my notes app, he looked at my ancient device and sighed.

“Nope. That will not do. The first thing on your agenda, get yourself a new phone. We’ll call it a company phone, but it’s yours. Get whichever one you’d like,” he said assertively.

“Okay,” I replied, surprised by his generosity.

“The next thing on our agenda, there’s a Japanese crepe shop nearby that I’ve been dying for you to try,” Remy declared.