Sometimes brief interactions and a few words are enough to reveal something about a character or raise more questions we’d like to entertain ourselves by musing over. Here’s a one-shot with Alec and Riley from my Dogs, Bats & Monkeys series. Chronologically, it’s set during Book II – Sentiments & Reason, and the stage it takes place on is the Milk & Cream – the café Riley works at.
I hope you’ll enjoy it!
PS: Learn a bit about what the Dogs, Bats & Monkeys series are at the bottom of this post.
Work was slow and I was on my mobile, scrolling through the pictures of the baby who was soon to be my nephew – how soon, I didn’t know as Rhys and I had yet to set a date for the wedding – when…
His silky voice made me freeze.
I slowly lifted my gaze from the phone screen towards the familiar timbre – teasing and with a hint of danger. I was met by pale eyes on the background of a fair, angelic face. How deceptive those features were! The creature before me couldn’t be further from an angel.
“Come on, Riley.” Alec’s voice was low, seductive. “Give me something I’d enjoy.”
I stared silently at the vampire-shifter hybrid; why was he at the Milk & Cream?
“If you are as good of a barista as my uncle claims, you should be able to recommend me a drink.” Beautiful lips turned up in a smile. There was no joy or friendliness in the new expression; Alec looked upon me like a cat playing with its next meal. “So what do you have to offer?”
His inflection suggested the blond devil was asking for something other than a drink. Clarity decided to manifest itself in my mind: Alec was here to toy with me.
He was here to intimidate and jest, and leave me speechless and trembling. How could he be so different from Rhys and the rest of their family?
The Flemings were good people, caring and compassioned. Alec was everything but.
He is too much like his vampire relatives – that had been said to me on several occasions by several wolf shifters. Once again, I realized how lucky I was not to have met his mother or anyone on her side of the family.
The smile became a sneer and something in me snapped.
This boy, not much older than me, was making us all walk on eggshells. His father – oh, pour Everett! – was constantly stressed at what trouble Alec would stir up next just to amuse himself. I hoped Everett and Lisa’s new child grew up to be as different from his older half-brother as the sun and the moon were from each other. But then again, how could Oliver turn out anything like Alec?
Ollie would be raised by two loving wolf shifters, not by a cold-hearted vampire mother who kept the child away from his birth father.
“Milkshake.” I said decidedly, determined not to fall prey to this boy’s manipulations. If Alec sought entertainment, he had to look for it elsewhere today.
His eyebrow twitched, but didn’t quite rise at my tone.
As much as I didn’t wish to have him behind me, I turned around and examined the ingredients before me.
A milkshake was a smart choice as I knew he drank those, but still, it was a very basic one. I had to prepare him something sweet – Alec was into sweets – but I wasn’t sure about the flavors.
Sweat formed on my forehead and I expected to hear him chuckle and shoot me a snide remark, some mocking comment about my hesitation and wasting time for something as simple as a milkshake.
Come on, Riley, think… What does he like?
I’d seen him munching on vanilla ice cream.
I picked up the ingredients for the first vanilla milkshake that came to mind and carefully mixed the flavors.
I swirled around to see him cradling his cheek in his palm, his right elbow bent and resting over the bar.
I pushed the drink towards him, avoiding skin to skin contact. His lips twitched again and he straightened slowly, lazily. Very deliberately, Alec looked me in the eyes, his tongue darting to lick the straw before he sucked on it. I shook my head to disperse the thoughts of our first encounter when he’d offered me sex and waited for his judgment.
He took his time.
One gulp… A second… A third… His expression didn’t change and his gaze didn’t waver from mine. Then, finally:
“Milk, vanilla, honey and cinnamon. Not bad.” He released the straw and took a sip from the rim of the glass. “Not bad at all,” he concluded and my shoulders slumped as I exhaled, my nerves leaving me along with the long gush of wind that left through my mouth.
“Maybe you can make me more of these when I come to visit.”
And with that one simple sentence, all my anxiety returned.
“You-you plan to come back to the Milk & Cream?”
“This café isn’t really my style.” A frown appeared on his face as he took in the families currently sitting in my workplace and Jenny – the only waitress on shift – who was pretending to be interested in the story one of the patrons was telling her. I knew that the only reason she bothered being pleasant to the elderly woman was because the latter had a hot grandson who she sometimes brought here with her and Jenny was not the type of girl to be openly rude to an elderly woman with a hot grandson.
“No, I meant when I go to the Silver Bullets’ neighborhood,” Alec continued.
“Why would you go there?”
He had always claimed he was not fond of his father and the Silver Bullets pack; why would he want to go to where the wolf shifters lived?
“To see my baby brother, of course. Oliver – that was the little beast’s name, right?” He asked with a disinterested inflection, one that contradicted his previous claim. If Alec was not interested in his newborn brother, he wouldn’t want to visit ‘the little beast’, as he put it. That logical conclusion had me curious as to which was the truth and which was the act: did Alec really not care for Oliver or was he only pretending not to because this was Alec and Alec did not show affection to anyone but Vika. I had yet to meet this cousin of his but I was told that they had once been caught laughing together – a real, joyous laugh, not an amused chuckle or a cruel chortle.
But even though I’d been told, I could not imagine it and I found it hard to believe this sinful seducer was capable of something so benevolent and natural as a merry laughter.
“Oh, come on, Riley.” His voice had gone back to its alluring timbre. “Whatever thoughts are running behind that charming, innocent face of yours, I’m more interesting than them.”
“I was wondering whether you really care about Ollie,” I admitted.
“Care?” He pulled the white straw out of the glass and licked its bottom. “What on Earth made you think I cared for the little beast?”
“You said you wanted to visit him,” I noted.
“Does that show care?” He sighed and this time he leaned his cheek in his left palm while he nibbled on the straw in his right hand. “I suppose… Yes, I suppose you would get confused.”
“So you don’t? Care, I mean.”
“No, Riley, I don’t.” He dipped the straw back into the milkshake and sucked some of the thick, sweet liquid.
“Then why would you want to visit?”
“To put daddy dearest on his toes, of course.” He grinned, the angel gone, replaced by a most magnetic demon. “Everett wants to bond with me and he is not above using his new purebred offspring to achieve his goal. Only, he’s not sure he can trust me around the little beast. He wants me there, but he’s also scared. Won’t that be a fun combination of emotions to watch? Let’s see what his plans for me will be after a couple of visits.”
I crossed my arms over my chest, my features set in a glare.
“No one is trying to cheat or use you, Alec. Everett wants to be close with his sons and he wants them to be close with each other; why do you act like that’s such a bad thing?”
An amused grin spread on his face.
“Well, what do you know? You did surprise me, Riley.”
I gaped not all that elegantly at him, caught off guard by the… compliment?
Was it a compliment?
He looked like he’d just paid me a compliment.
“I didn’t expect you to talk to me like this,” he clarified. “That tone of yours? You are much more confident than when we first met.”
He kept quiet as I blinked at him in confusion.
Yes, Alec was paying me a compliment… Unless this was a trick. It could be; it had to be.
“It almost seemed like you don’t fear me anymore.”
He seemed serious and kind.
It was a trick.
Alec was somehow misleading me. A jibe would follow.
I gulped as I waited, licked my dry lips. He went back to grinning.
“Well, that’s better!” He drained the content of his glass. “You back to being pale, confused and breathless in my presence. Things are back to how they should be.”
Alec got up and stretched. It wasn’t until he reached towards the stool next to the one he’d been sitting on that I realized he’d brought his jacket. The black leather jacket, so similar to those many of the Silver Bullets worn that I’d always wondered why he had it. He didn’t want to be associated with the shifters; why buy a jacket that looked so much like theirs?
He left a bill on the bar – “Keep the change” – and began to turn, but paused.
“Why didn’t you serve me coffee?” He asked and I was almost certain I heard a hint of genuine interest in his voice.
“Because I know you like milkshakes.”
“And why vanilla, honey and cinnamon?”
“I don’t know.” I shrugged. “It was the first that came to mind.”
“If you had served me coffee,” he leaned with both now leather jacket-clad elbows on the bar, “what would’ve you drawn me?”
So he knew I did coffee art… How was a mystery, but he knew.
“Uncle Rhys always gets a wolf, I believe…”
I raised my eyebrows. Okay, maybe he’d overheard I did coffee art… But how did Alec know what I drew for Rhys each time he was here?
“… But what would’ve you drawn for me?”
“A bat?” With my hesitation, my answer sounded more like a question. “Because you are more fond of the vampire side of your family.”
“I’m not fond of either side of my family, Riley; I just happen to be more like the bats,” he contradicted me with a strange inflection; which emotion it displayed, I couldn’t figure out.
He turned – this time fully – and started moving towards the exit.
“Vanilla, honey and cinnamon happens to be among my favorite combinations, by the way.” Were the words he told me instead of goodbye.
How the Dogs, Bats & Monkeys series were created.
(the new book covers for the series)
It all started two years ago with a short story contest. The themes: werewolf and LGBT. The first of those wasn’t anything I’d written about before and since I’d set a challenge to myself about writing something – even if it’s a one-shot – in every genre Wattpad offers, I decided to enter the contest and began, uncharacteristically for me, to write a new story in a notebook instead of a laptop. I soon realized it was turning into a novel and I wouldn’t be able to enter it in the short story contest. Luckily for me, the Wattpad4 girls – Rebecca Sky, Erin Latimer, Leah Crichton and Monica Sanz, were organizing a contest for Romance stories. I had three days to enter (on two of which I was working) so I commenced on the epic journey to type the story on my laptop, come up with a blurb and title and to create a cover for it in the little time I had. I managed to have the first chapters on Wattpad before the due date and was rewarded for my efforts by Erin picking it as her choice for a winner (there were four winners, each picked by a different Wattpad4 girl).
And that was how You Are the Answer, narrated by Riley, was created and uploaded on Wattpad. It’s the first book in the series, along with We Are the Answer – the same story, told from the POV of the other main character – Rhys. Even though they cover the same events, We Are the Answer ended up being a lot longer as we learn more about the shape shifters and the supernatural world that Riley didn’t know existed until about 2/3 into the story.
I’ve completed both drafts and uploaded them to Wattpad. I’m currently uploading the draft to Book II – Sentiments & Reason.
Book III (with the working title Sweeter than Sweets) will be posted as soon as I finish Sentiments & Reason and will keep the tradition of moving on to new main characters.
In Book I (both versions), the focus was on the developing relationship between Rhys and Riley; in Book II it’s on Keri (Rhys’ best friend and Alpha of his pack), her mate and a serial killer with a grudge against the Silver Bullets; in Book III it’s on Alec (Rhys’ nephew) who is beginning to discover that maybe he’s capable of romantic feelings; in Book IV it’s on Kennedy (Rhys’ youngest brother) who finds his mate, but, charming and beloved as he is by everyone, has a hard time winning that special someone over.
I’m thinking about writing a few short spin-offs as well that let the readers discover more about the world where the series take place. One of this spin-offs is a novella about the Order of the Sentinels – a supernatural law-creating and law-enforcing organization. Since I have to come up with a post for the Wattpad Block Party (it’s Winter Edition III and yes, I’m taking part again), you might get a one-shot about life in other packs very soon; after all, we know how the Silver Bullets live, but what about other wolf shifters?
Well, I only get to create one post for the Wattpad Block Party and I’m not sure a one-shot will cover what it’s like to live in a less tolerant and democratic pack than the Silver Bullets. We’ll see how things turn out.
Happy holidays, everyone!