(#MM, #futuristic, #dystopian, #menage #erotic romance, #BDSM)
Earth of 4035 is a wasteland populated with sectors of penal colonies, seeded through the generations by its life-long inhabitants of criminals, lunatics, political prisoners, and DNA-spliced mutants, all ruled by a powerful conglomerate of scientific researchers called the Nucleate.
One such sector, Pandemonia, is situated on the former European continent in the vicinity of Paris, now a hunting ground of a world gone horribly awry.
Drayce Eth, of dragogen-spliced DNA creation, rules one quandrant of Old Paris with a strong hand. He has never mated, never taken a long-term lover, and has always denied the instincts of his dragogen-spliced DNA. But then he encounters an attractive disciple and slave of his arch-enemy, Dr. Francois Beljon, and a simple game of poke-the-bear to relieve his ennui may just result in more than Drayce ever expected. It may also be exactly what he needs when his mating instincts are aroused by this least likely of potential mates.
Crispen Wills is a product of the mean streets. He’s a survivor—a dancer, a liar, a scavenger, and whatever else will serve to keep him alive. But when he becomes a desirable pawn in a treacherous game, it could easily cost him his life. What Crispen never expects is to fall in love with the powerful dragogen that his master has sent him to destroy.
Passions mix with danger in a highly flammable game devoid of rules and safe words, where all’s fair in love, lust…and death. Only a fool would dare to risk everything for a fleeting chance at love, especially when that lover could easily barbecue you should you make one false step.
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“Have Ion send the boy to me after his performance tonight. Let’s see if we can squeeze any more information out of him than he’s deigned to share thus far. Any tidbit we can discern about the running of the cathedral gives us ammunition for future consideration.”
“I can have Taylor beat it out of him,” Zadrian suggested.
Ever since the loss of his lover, Zadrian had become even more bloodthirsty in his tactics. Sometimes he took some reining in. His canine nature was beginning to consume his humazoid side. It had been over a year since he’d lost Jazz to the Nucleate. He had to repair himself. He needed a new focus.
“Zadrian, reel it in. I said not yet. Just send the whelp to me.”
Zadrian saluted. “As you command, boss.”
“Fuck you,” Drayce responded.
Zadrian grinned, exposing his sharp teeth, but the amusement never entered his eyes. It never did these days. “Hell, you want him, you might as well take him. That is what you want, isn’t it? You want to fuck him. That’s why you’re dragging your spikes on this one. Shall I tell Ion to deliver him with a bottle of barbecue sauce?”
Drayce ignored the last taunt. Sometimes Zadrian overstepped. But then the captain had been around a long time. There was no point in lying. Zadrian would see right through that and think less of him for doing it.
“What I want and what I’ll take are two different things entirely. You know that. The whelp is here for one reason.”
“Do you really think Beljon will barter for his return? Beljon has no concern for human life. He’ll just replace this one with another. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he’ll just kill or use it for experimentation. And then destroy it when it goes bad.”
Drayce glared at Zadrian. “Jazz again.”
And now there was emotion in Zadrian’s eyes. Pain flared and Drayce heard the low rumbling growl in his throat.
“We almost lost you as well, if you’ll recall, when they went after him to get to you. That’s all that was about—getting to you. They would have killed him anyway. He was never strong enough to survive here. Even with you protecting him.”
“Fine. But you should remember as well. The weak ones don’t survive long. The whelp is a pretty little thing, but he can’t last long. Use him up, entertain yourself, but I wouldn’t recommend getting attached. He won’t survive either.”
If he was truly weak as he pretended to be, Drayce would agree. But Drayce had watched Crispen these last nights, and Crispen was far from weak. In fact, there was an undercurrent about him that told Drayce above all else, he was a survivor. A devious sort of survivor. Not at all what he appeared. And only a strong, steady hand could bring him to heel. But Drayce didn’t have the time to take on a pet. And Zadrian was right about one thing. In their world, pets didn’t really survive very long. There were traitors in every sector, and the Rouge was no exception. And it was the weak ones on whom they preyed.
Zadrian stared back at him, neither man relenting, nor looking away. In another man, Drayce would have considered it a challenge to be met and the upper hand forced. But then, as though knowing he had to be first, Zadrian looked away. He nodded. “All right, Drayce. Have it your way. But we can’t wait forever. We’ll only look weak. We’re going to have to do something. Toy with it and then finish this thing.”
“I’m not felinogen in that respect. Just remember that. I don’t toy without a purpose. You just be careful it’s not strictly revenge you’re after, and you lose your head and your life because of it.”
Zadrian stared at him with a bleak look. “I lost my life a year ago, Drayce. There really isn’t much left for me to lose. Beljon made his point very clearly.” He spun about and stalked out the door.
Drayce felt for the man. He’d lost his mate, and the DNA in Zadrian’s blood probably wouldn’t let him accept another, at least not easily. It was the way the caninogens were marked. One life, one mate. Dragogens, on the other hand, had no problem keeping a herd full of amusements. Like felinogens in some ways, they were fond of dominating multiple partners. Maybe he was too much like Beljon, and that was a truly distasteful thought. Or maybe Beljon had a bit of dragogen DNA in his make-up. Yeah, that was a much more palatable thought.
Drayce hadn’t built a herd of his own. That sort of thing made a man vulnerable in a place like this. Instead, with running an establishment like the Rouge, he had a plentiful supply of dancers who came and went in his bed when he felt a particular itch, flitting in and out as he wanted. Which is why he couldn’t figure out why he was so fixated on this whelp. He didn’t need him, but damned if he didn’t want him. Far more than he should.