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Exclusive First Peek
Now he wasn’t sure what to think, when three nights in a row the dagger of his dreams reminded him of the one they’d been bickering over. Not like he was going to mention it to Zaiden, hell he didn’t understand why Zaiden believed his gifts so important that the snakeman was willing to do anything to save them and him, especially when Darrell didn’t really want to be saved and he didn’t really care if they saved Zxex from whatever fate was in store for him, either. So maybe apathy was going to kill him, but Darrell figured it would be slower than the cigarettes that Zaiden wouldn’t let him smoke again.
“You’re thinking extremely loud today,” Zaiden hissed from behind him. Darrell whirled around, fists clenched, eyes flashing. Still, he took a deep breath and said nothing, just turned back around and went back to doing the dishes.
“You will have to trust me eventually,” Zaiden said calmly.
“Why, why the hell should I ever trust you?” Darrell growled.
“Because I know the answers to the questions you think but refuse to ask.”
Darrell huffed and turned back around again, picked up a glass, then smashed it on the edge of the sink. He watched the pieces fall to the floor in a shower of bubbles and shards while his hand closed around the largest one. He wanted the ache, the sting of flesh parting, but Zaiden’s grip on his wrist halted his progress and forced him to relax his fingers and let the shards go.
“Tell me what you dream,” Zaiden hissed.
“Something tells me that you already know.”
“It is not a question of whether I know or do not know,” Zaiden said as he maneuvered Darrell until his back was against the wall. “It is a question of when you will begin to seek answers outside of what you believe.”
For a moment, Darrell held Zaiden’s almost hypnotic gaze, before he let his glance slide away to stare out the window. He never saw the strike before he felt Zaiden’s teeth pierce the skin at his throat, and a rush of pure pleasure washed over him. He shuddered and wrapped his arms around Zaiden, let his eyes slam shut and his body relax as he clung, dragged into a sea of calm by whatever the hell was in the snakeman’s saliva.
The fangs retracted and he felt himself being lifted, and didn’t care that he was being manhandled like a child. He lay his head on Zaiden’s shoulder and curled his body against the other man’s once Zaiden had lowered them both to the couch.
“Listen to me, Darrell,” Zaiden said, his voice seeming to come from a long ways away. “However you came to live out here among the humans, there are forces quickly closing in on you that will make it impossible for you to remain separate from the rest of our people. However you came to know Zxex, whatever brought you two together, you need to focus on recapturing it. Was it a thought, did something about him call to you, is there something you glimpsed in his mind, however small, that tipped you off that he was different in the same way that you are different.”
Darrell listened to the cadence of his voice, his words sinking in, even when all he wanted was to feel the achy pleasure of another bite.
“You are rare, with potential that you cannot even fathom, but if they discover you, the only potential you will have to them is how your gifts can be used as weapons,” Zaiden tried to explain. “I need to know the importance of the dagger you dream of. I need to know where you saw it and I need to know who you were with when you were there.”
“Why?” Darrell muttered.
“Because art is not the only thing that interests Zxex,” Zaiden explained. “Artifacts do as well. The dagger you dream of is certainly one that would have held his attention.”
“How do you know what I dream about? At least tell me that. Are you a prophet too?”
“No, I am not. I have never been able to see into the mind of another the way I have been able to see into yours, nor have I ever been able to share a dream with someone the way I am able to tap into yours. But I am not able to hold those connections for long. The bond between us is a tumultuous one, and when you focus, you are able to push me from your thoughts.”
“Why a bond?”
“I do not understand your question.”
Darrell found that he really had to focus. The result of the bite had left him drowsy and wishing for sleep.
“Why is there a bond between us?” He finally managed to ask. “Don’t want one. Don’t want you in my head. Don’t want you in my life. Wanna find your brother and get you the hell away from me.”
“I know. Unfortunately, that is not a wish I will be able to grant.”
Darrell couldn’t be certain, but he detected a hint of hurt in the snakeman’s voice as he spoke those words. He quickly pushed the thought from his mind and focused instead on blessed oblivion, and when it fell like a warm weight over him, Darrell was more than happy to sink into it and give in to the pull of sleep.