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The river was shallow here, which only made the currents cutting through the rocks by the shore all the stronger. A flood had carved out the edges of the banks, and the city had yet to rebuild the safe pathways, mini cement roads with dividing lines. The crumbling remains of the old path went in fits and starts down the new banks, and the fading remains of human interference left Luke feeling better than if there were no signs of humans at all.
It was quiet. Humans could take dark and cold, but combine them and even the roughest beat it to the safest, brightest lit path. The only creatures down here with him had four legs and the bright, piercing eyes of predators. The thermometer had taken a dive during the day. Luke felt it even deep in the basement of the house he'd taken as his. It wasn't just the smell of burning dust from the central heating kicking in; when the first delicate lines of ice had formed on the edge of the smallest puddle left over from the three days of rain, he'd felt it in his bones.
He exhaled, and his breath fogged around him. He wasn't as warm as he could have been; it had been at least a day since he'd fed, but it was a wholly human response to the change of season. It had been years--almost a century, now that he thought about it--since the last time he saw a flock of geese flying south, but the desire to trade his long, dark evenings for heat was so strong he felt his body sing with the need.
A bird screeched above him, the sound echoing against the trees and rocks around him. It wasn't Corbin, but one of his minions, Luke had no doubt. He would have felt Corbin, even in winged form. And sure enough, the silence had time to settle down aroundhim before he heard the beating of wings just a little bigger than they ought to have been. Luke didn't crane his neck to see; Corbin was as black as an empty eye socket. The beating wings were just in front of him, but Luke didn't see Corbin until he landed and shifted, if that was the right word for abruptly becoming something else.
The world was various shades of gray under the bright moon, but Corbin reflected silver light. His black hair was short enough that the handsome shape of his skull was visible, and his green eyes were arctic when compared to his warm skin. He wore a black turtleneck, and jeans were tight on his ass. It wasn't hard to remember those details; it was what he always wore. The only concession he'd make for the seasons was the gauge of the cotton. That night was freezing, but Corbin still wore leather gloves that were as soft as a dying sigh. He never took them off, not even during sex, and the smell of them left Luke hard and yet still full of loathing.
"Moping is beneath you," Corbin said. "Truly. You sicken me just by looking at you."
"Then go away, Corbin." Luke picked up a smooth, flat rock, just meant for skipping across the water, but he didn't throw it. Instead, he clenched his fist around it. "It will solve both our problems."
"My heart bleeds."
"Then you won't mind if I lick it up for you," Corbin said, and was suddenly kneeling over where Luke sat on one of the crumbling remains of the path. Corbin was hot and heavy, too full of blood. It gave his cheeks a blush that Luke could only envy. "It's cold, you're hard, and I'm horny. Let's just fuck."
Luke stood despite Corbin's weight over him. He pushed Corbin away, and one of Corbin's fangs cut his lip as he twisted back. Corbin dabbed his lip with the back of his fist. The blood he gathered up was invisible on the black leather in the dark, but Luke smelled it. "Playing hard to get," he said. "Or should I say, playing already got, but would like to get again."
"It's over, Cory. Everything. I'm done with you." Using Corbin's human name was an admission of weakness, and if Luke could have swallowed his tongue in the next instant, he would have. Corbin, of course, saw it. Corbin missed nothing.
Corbin smiled and opened his arms widely. "Wouldn't you like the two of us to go back to your place, get naked, and fuck in front of the fire? I'll even let you suck my fingers. You know you like that."
Luke brushed off his jeans and headed back up the path to civilization. "Fuck you, Corbin."
"I'm trying," Corbin called to his retreating back.
The parking lot was empty except for a derelict car parked in the far corner. It had half a dozen parking tickets from the city, probably worth more than the car itself. The leather seats were ripped and shredded in what had once been a pretty nice interior, but Luke smelled the death in the car. His gift told him more than he wanted to know. The owner hadn't died here, but down by the river, and he'd fallen into the fast current. It had been a night like this, with the same strong current, and no one had seen the body slip out of the city. Luke shook his head, knowing he shouldn't be feeling a pang of regret. In his heyday he'd caused more than a couple people to disappear, but he couldn't help the morbid sense of loss inside him from growing.
Corbin perched up on the car's hood, coiled like a bird that had just come to rest. He steamed in the chilly air, visible now under the single streetlight that lit the otherwise dim parking lot, and Luke knew if he took three steps over to where Corbin was, he could pull Corbin down to him, force him over the hood of the car.
Corbin's dark eyes were black under the harsh lights. He parted his lips, offering, and this was different than the offer down below. No words. It was primal. They weren't meant to be solitary creatures, and Luke had been alone for years before he'd found Corbin turning tricks on the street. He hadn't wanted to turn him, didn't want the responsibility, especially not after what had happened to him, but he'd believed Corbin and his lies.
And they had been lies. How Corbin had looked at him and known what he was still escaped Luke, but he thought about it practically every day. He'd hunted Cory only to find himself trapped. Cory had renamed himself, and Corbin hadn't been reborn so much as he'd been ... released.
Still, Luke went to him. Corbin spread his legs wide enough that the tight denim didn't have enough fabric left to wrinkle. This close the warmth coming off him was hot enough to prick the skin on Luke's face. He grabbed Corbin's hips, wishing he could just overlook what a cold bastard Corbin was underneath all the heat and unspoken invitation.
Corbin slid down to his ass, about to wrap his legs around Luke's hips, but Luke stopped him, pinning his knees down. Corbin fought, but as strong as he was, he was still barely out of the pup stage. Luke was just stronger. "Not even if you were the last set of prick and balls in western Canada," he whispered in Corbin's ear, but still couldn't stop himself from dragging his fangs across Corbin's cheek.
Luke felt Corbin's groan reverberate through the metal of the car. "Luke," he began, his voice halfway between a drawl and a plea, but then he stopped talking. Luke heard it too; the soft chinking behind them was the sound of a hand drawing back drapes. The only thing behind them was an old historic restaurant. Luke turned, suddenly ill at ease having his back to the blacked-out windows. But when he turned, one of the windows was lit.