Read an Excerpt
"Tell me again...why weâ€™re...doing this," Gianni panted.
Shayne looked over at his friend, a mischievous smirk curving his lips at the rhetorical question. Gianniâ€™s irritation wasnâ€™t fooling either of them considering the fact that rolling Collenâ€™s car out of the driveway in the dead of night to sneak off to a club had been his idea. It was one of the things Shayne loved most about him. Behind his deceptively innocent, large grey eyes and timid nature was a man who wasnâ€™t afraid to go against authority to help out a friend. Especially when that friend needed to test his own boundaries for reasons most people wouldnâ€™t understand. And Shayne needed this, despite the consequences...or perhaps because of them.
Putting more muscle behind the dead weight of the car, he replied, "Weâ€™re delinquents. Itâ€™s what we do."
Gianni flashed white teeth a shade brighter than his bleached blond hair. "Collen is going to kill you if he finds out."
"Heâ€™s a regular champion of the law. Itâ€™s what he does," Shayne said with a shrug, though Gianniâ€™s words did hold merit. A slight shiver coursed through his body at the thought of what Collen might do should he discover their plans, but it wasnâ€™t born of fear. The older man would never hurt him, at least not where it could show. With a grin to hide the familiar ache in his chest, he added, "Besides, Iâ€™m not the only one whoâ€™ll die horribly if we get caught. Stop here, I think weâ€™re good."
Shayne cast a quick glance over his shoulder to ensure the lights were still off in both houses roughly a hundred yards away, then walked around the car and slid behind the wheel.
"Hey, heâ€™s your guardian," Gianni shot back teasingly from the passenger side. "Iâ€™m just the homeless freak he was guilted into taking in. I doubt heâ€™ll care much that Iâ€™m involved."
Shayne turned to stare at his friend fully, allowing his concern to bleed through his expression. "Youâ€™re not homeless anymore, and we all care about you."
A blush crept over Gianniâ€™s pale, youthful features and his mascara-coated lashes fanned out over high cheekbones as he looked to the car window then back. "Just a freak then. I can live with that."
Shayne chuckled at the dry humour and shook his head. It had only been six months since heâ€™d found the eighteen-year-old sleeping beneath an overpass and had offered him more protection than the dirty clothes on his back. However, it felt like theyâ€™d known each other for years. Gianni shared his cynicism towards the world and understood his reasons for lashing out, even if he didnâ€™t always agree with them. Forged by the pain of their pasts, they were alike in ways not even the differences between their races could drive a wedge through. To Gianni, they were equals, not human and half-God, and that was all that mattered.
Closing his eyes to concentrate, he sifted through the energy that constantly vibrated at a low hum within his body and found the sliver of current heâ€™d absorbed from his unwitting brother earlier. It carried a tiny measure of Xilonenâ€™s power that acted as a spark to any electrical conduit. Shayne hated using his ability to take in the energy of Gods and other halflingsâ€”and, as a result, a degree of their powers as well. It was a constant source of grief and the reason behind his enforced solitude, although it did have its advantages at times.
Tapping into his brotherâ€™s stolen power, he put a finger to the ignition slot and pushed the current through, smiling when the car purred to life with a low rumble. Anticipation slowly seeped into his veins as he turned it around on the loose gravel and hit the road leading to their destination. Their plan tonight was definitely one of the top ten most idiotic heâ€™d ever put into action to rebel, but he refused to let it go untested. This was his life, and he was done waiting around for it to be acknowledged by the one person he would give it all up for.
"He loves you, you know," Gianni murmured softly after several minutes. "People donâ€™t stick around without a reason."
Shayne gripped the steering wheel, tensing reflexively against the tide of emotions that the simple statement had induced. He knew that his friend was right, didnâ€™t even try to counter Gianniâ€™s irritating astuteness, but apparently love wasnâ€™t always that simple. He was nineteen, for Godsâ€™ sake! Heâ€™d thought that on his eighteenth birthday Collen would have seen him as a man, forge their bond as mates and take their relationship to the next level. Yet Collen still saw him only as a childâ€”denying their bond at every turn and treating him as a responsibility instead of a lover. Never once, even after the day of his maturity, had Collen touched him in a sexual manner. At this point, after so many times of being lectured and not held, being reprimanded instead of dominated, Shayne could no longer ignore the obviousâ€”Collen was disgusted with the cruel twist of fate heâ€™d been dealt. To have been given a mate he was forced to protect out of obligation and deep-seated moral standards, a mate whoâ€™d killed his own mother and friend. Why else would the man shun him with disappointment shining from the depths of his sea-green eyes rather than embrace their connection? The love between them was tempered by events neither of them could change and a past, it seemed, neither could move on from.