Dawn Endeavor 5: Grayson's Gamble

Marie Harte

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Grayson Belle is one in a million. Unlike the government’s manufactured Circs -- the nation's warriors who’ve been mutated by the government into men who can shift form -- Gray was born with the ability to shapeshift a...
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Grayson Belle is one in a million. Unlike the government’s manufactured Circs -- the nation's warriors who’ve been mutated by the government into men who can shift form -- Gray was born with the ability to shapeshift and has a heightened sense of telepathy. But lately, his world has gone to hell. He’s prepared to throw in the towel after his current mission. He’s seriously messed up, lusting after his irritating partner, Bas, whom he’s not even sure he likes. And then, Al Ross, the rogue Circ he’s been sent to kill, turns his heart inside out and his resolve to nothing. He’s losing his edge, because he wants to mark both Circs as his own. But if he does, what will that mean to the future he’s mapped out for himself?

He’ll have to gamble on his instincts to ignore what his head is telling him. Sometimes being rational means less than nothing if the heart isn’t happy. And Gray will be damned if he’ll let himself lose at love. Now he and his partner just have to convince one stubborn female to take that same chance.

  • Note:This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: anal play/intercourse, dubious consent, male/male sexual practices, menage (m/f/m) restraints.

Gray left with the admiral's blessing, but Bas -- as Sebastian referred to himself -- stayed behind at his superior's request. "Sir?"

Personally, he liked Admiral London. The man had been straight up with him from the get-go, unlike the pricks at the laboratory where he'd been kidnapped and injected with that nasty serum that turned him Circ -- involuntarily. He could only be glad he hadn't succumbed as so many others had. The mating heat had never affected him, much to the bemusement of the admiral and the myriad doctors who'd studied him.

But he feared he might be more like the Circs of Circe's Recruits and Dawn Endeavor than anyone thought. Lately he had.needs. Sexual needs that his beast wanted only one particular man to satisfy. The scent of Grayson Belle lingered like a fine cologne. Wild and earthy and uniquely male. A mug on the admiral's desk trembled, a residual of Bas's telekinetic energy escaping, and he hurriedly tamped it back down. Another problem he'd been trying to handle lately -- his unstable and unwelcome psychic ability. Fortunately, the admiral didn't notice.

"Tell me, son, how is he?" The older man nodded to the closed door through which Gray had exited.

"Honestly?" Bas continued when the admiral motioned for him to speak. "He's like a time bomb waiting to explode. It's like he's craving the excitement. I can't explain it, but I can feel him tensing, sizing me up, and it's all I can do not to attack him first."

He hadn't wanted to share Gray's problem, but he worried about his partner. Truth was he lusted after the guy with a hard-on that wouldn't quit. That caramel skin, those hazel eyes, the black hair that kissed the nape of his neck and framed a face too wild to be classically handsome. Yet Gray captivated all the same. He was Circ to his bones. A fact Bas's beast never let him forget.

"At each other's throats, hmm? That's good." The admiral smiled.

"Sir?" Did the man want them to kill each other?

"We've been waiting for these reactions from Gray for some time. It's okay, Sebastian. He's not quite like you and the others. Gray is different, special. He just needs to release his beast every now and then. When you're in Oregon, keep an eye on him but encourage him to let go of that wildness. It'll help, trust me."

Bas did trust the admiral, as much as he trusted the admiral's wife, Alicia Sharpe. She had a presence about her that heralded great power and soothing peace. Beautiful, graceful, and never a hair out of place. And she was Gray's grandmother. How could he not like the woman? Besides, his beast accepted her, and he heeded his beast's instincts. They'd kept him alive on more than one occasion.

"Now go on. Make sure you two read that file before you leave the building. Oh, and I've found you a place to stay for the night. I know you have a place in Alexandria, but I want you and Gray to be tighter, to trust one another. Yes, I realize the trust issue is on his end, not yours. Still, if I order you two to get along, he can chafe, but he can't refuse." The admiral tossed another paper at him. "That's the address and directions to your shared temporary lodging. I'm sorry about the suddenness of this new mission, but it's necessary. Now track down Grayson and find our rogue Circ."

Bas nodded. He gripped the folder and paper and left the room. It didn't take him long to find Gray. His beast easily picked up the trail of anger and exotic jungle, that rare scent that made him ache in the most inappropriate of places.

Though at ease with his bisexuality, since becoming Circ, Bas had been more and more drawn to men, or one man, in particular. Grayson Belle had become his sole focus. He dreamed about him, to the point he couldn't think the word sex without an image of Gray popping into his mind.

He found his partner in a nearby break room, empty except for Gray.

"Hell. Now what?" Gray asked. Another soul blinked at him through Gray's eyes, and Bas let that creature see the inner beast chafing within himself. Like called to like, if only Gray would acknowledge the fact. But Sebastian's partner had a bit of a chip on his shoulder when it came to Circs created outside of the government's official projects. Circe's Recruits and Dawn Endeavor were two teams of Circs who consistently -- though unofficially -- did Alicia Sharpe's bidding. The admiral had entrusted Bas with the information when he'd brought him on as Gray's partner. Yet Bas wondered how much Gray knew about those teams, or how Gray actually fit into the Circs.

"Well? I'm not getting any younger."

Or sexier, Bas's beast whispered to him. He couldn't help a small growl, which further irritated his partner. In an effort to make peace, Bas held out the paperwork the admiral had given him.

"Our lodging for the next three days." He nodded at the paper Gray glared at. "The folder contains the info on our next mission. So let's study the documents then get out of here to --"

"Wait a second. This address. You sure the admiral gave it to you?"

Bas couldn't mistake the suspicion on Gray's face. "Yeah. Why? What's wrong?"

Gray looked from the paper to Bas and back to the paper. Then he muttered a few choice swearwords under his breath. He grabbed the folder from Bas's hands and breezed through it in a few seconds, then closed it and handed it back to Bas. "Take that back to the admiral and meet me at the admiral's spot in the lot."

Bas had questions, but the shuttered look on Gray's face kept him silent. He left and scanned the folder before turning it over to the admiral's secretary. Then he looked for Gray at the specified area in the parking lot, only to find Gray behind the wheel of a dark SUV.

"Get in," Gray ordered through the open window.

Surprised at the curbside service, Bas entered. "Thanks."

"Shut up."

"And there's the Gray we know and love." Bas gave him an overlarge grin. For the life of him, he didn't understand why Gray's peevishness made him more attractive.

"Look. I don't know if you and the admiral set this up or what, but let's get something straight. I'm not into sharing."

"Ah, o-kay." What the hell was he talking about?

"So don't even think this is my idea."

"Right. Look, hero, why don't you just tell me what the hell crawled up your ass and died?"

Gray clenched his jaw tight. Bas knew he absolutely hated it when Bas called him hero. Which was why Bas made sure to call him that several times a day.

"You do know where we're staying?"

Bas sighed. "Long as it has a bed, I'm game. It's been nearly eight months of nonstop action. I barely remember where home is. Honestly, I don't give a rat's ass where we go. I want to sleep, eat, and take a nice long hot shower without interruption. Think you can handle that.hero?"

Gray growled at him, and Bas wanted to purr. Gray was so damn sexy when he scowled. All dark and broody. The power just bunched up inside him, waiting to be sprung free.

When Gray continued to sulk beside him, Bas slouched down in his seat. He closed his eyes while his partner drove, honest about being tired. The pace they worked had been incredible. Righting wrongs and cleaning up science gone wrong from Ecuador to Norway to Mexico had been more than tiresome, yet still exhilarating, being able to be so close to Gray. The man moved like the wind, had a mind that never quit, and the tenacity of ten bloodhounds. They'd occasionally routed rogue Circs but normally found themselves cleaning up drug wars. Only the drugs they found weren't the illegal kind but the experimental kind.

Remembering how many times Gray had saved innocents and nearly gotten himself killed while doing so aggravated his beast until Bas reminded him that the man sat safely beside him, close enough to reach out and touch.

"Wake up, Sleeping Beauty," Gray's familiar voice rasped. "We're here."

They parked in front of a nice-looking brownstone in an upscale neighborhood. Expensive cars sat along the street, and the surrounding landscaping screamed money. A real step-up from the last hotel they'd stayed in.

"The admiral went all-out on our digs, eh?" Bas sat up, stretched, and bumped his head on the ceiling of the SUV. "Damn."

"Just remember, inside, you break it, you bought it. And don't even think of taking a step into the master suite. I'm not kidding."

The way Gray talked about the place, he made it sound as if.

Bas followed him out the door of the vehicle and up the steps of the nearest building. Gray pressed a button on the keychain and locked the car door before using a different key to open the brownstone. "Wait here." He slammed the front door shut after entering and then opened it a minute later. "Had to deactivate the alarm. Well, come on in."

Bas blinked, amazed and excited to be able to see this more intimate side of Gray. "This is your place."

"No shit, Sherlock. Well, come on. I'll show you all the places you can't be."

Art from countries all over the world graced the walls. African masks, South American throw rugs, a German cuckoo clock. An eclectic mishmash that should have seemed thrown together instead looked sophisticated surrounded by dark brown woods and black leather furniture. On one hand, the place looked like a friggin' museum, but on the other, Bas thought he could easily sink into the oversize furniture and not get up until the next morning.

He followed Gray around like a puppy, mentally thanking the admiral up and down. Finally, some alone time with Gray. One-on-one, in the man's own home, where he'd feel more comfortable. Where he might finally relax enough to let Bas in.

Except the whirlwind tour stopped scant minutes after it had started. Gray forbade him from going down the hallway toward his room. "You can have the guest room. Here." Gray nodded him toward a tasteful bedroom containing a queen-size bed and a dresser. "The bathroom is in there." A hall bath done in blues and browns. Simple yet efficient. Very Gray-like. "Kitchen's open and stocked. Had a friend of mine fill it for me when we wrapped Mexico."

The surge of jealousy that hit Bas surprised him. His beast didn't like the thought of Gray with anyone other than him. "Friend?" He coughed to cover a growl and forced a laugh. "I'd love to meet the person you trust with the alarm code to your house. A hot chick? Some smokin' dude?"

Gray flushed, and Bas found the blush more than attractive. His dick hardened, and he thanked the jeans that kept his erection contained.

"She's a friend of my grandmother, dickhead. Sixty-four and counting. Is sex all you think about?"

"Um, yeah. I'm a guy." The surprising surge of lust that wafted from Gray urged him to take a step closer.

Until Gray set a finger tipped in a one-inch claw to his throat. "Let's get something straight. I don't have mating heats. I'm not like you manufactured Circs. I was born this way. I like women, not men. And if I catch you in my bedroom without an invitation, I'll make you wish you'd never met me."

"No way." Bas stepped closer, feeling the bite of pain as the claw bit into his neck. "I could never be upset I'd met you, Gray. You've been so gosh awful nice so far," he said in a bad Southern accent.

Gray just stared at him, those hazel eyes unblinking. And then the bastard laughed. The smile on his face was the most beautiful thing Bas had seen in a long time.

"Christ. You're a serious pain in my ass."

Man, I wish.

Gray stepped back and wiped his bloodied claw against Bas's neck. The touch felt like a caress. Gray must have seen the heat in his eyes because his own narrowed, and he backed away in a hurry. "I'm tired. I'm going to catch some shut-eye. We'll talk about the mission tomorrow."

"But the case file, how do you know --"

"I read fast. It's all in here." Gray tapped his forehead. "Towels are in the linen closet. 'Night, Decker." Then he spun on his heel and disappeared down the hallway Bas had been forbidden to enter.

Bas heard a door slam. He glanced down at his cock, trapped beneath unforgiving denim, and swore. "Another lonely fucking night. Just you and me." He looked at his palm, then down the hallway again, wishing it might have been different.

His beast protested the entire time he showered and jacked off -- twice -- to images of Gray on his knees, sucking Bas to heaven. All in time, guy. Your foot's in the door now. Just don't blow it -- at least not until he asks you to. His beast didn't like the advice, but he took it all the same. And Bas slept a little easier, knowing the object of his affection lay just a short distance down the hall.

* * * * *

The following morning, Decker continued to repeat everything Gray told him in the form of a question. "So the file said this Al Ross has been gathering rogues together for months?"

"Didn't I just say that?"

"But I don't get it. How the hell do you remember all the info in the folder? You glanced through it for like thirty seconds, if that." Decker took another sip of hot chocolate. So fitting, and so annoying that the scent merged with the sweet smell of the man.

"It's a gift. Eidetic memory." A skill, like Gray's telepathy, but he'd yet to divulge that tidbit to Decker. Gray had trust issues. And he didn't much care for the Circs outside of the Dawn Endeavor team. His sister and grandmother, he loved. His parents as well. The Dawn Endeavor Circs he tolerated, mainly because one of them had mated his sister. But the others fashioned by science? He couldn't help it. They just weren't right. Inferior creations made by imperfect humans.

Which didn't explain why he couldn't stop himself from constantly thinking about Sebastian Decker.

"You're just full of surprises, aren't you?" Decker grinned, and his eyes brightened like sapphires.

"You have no idea."

"Yeah, about that." Bas leaned forward and gave Gray a nice view of his square jaw that didn't need a shave. Circs didn't grow facial hair, an odd quirk that made Gray and Decker similar. Almost. "Something you said yesterday. What did you mean about being born this way? I thought all Circs were created in a lab."

Gray cursed himself for revealing that much. Though he and Decker had worked together for nearly a year, something about the man constantly nudged him to caution.

"Oh, come on, hero. I'm not gonna tell anyone." Decker leaned back from the kitchen table and grinned. "Don't you trust me?"


When Decker put on a wounded face and opened his mouth to speak, Gray beat him to it. "Shit. Fine. I was born this way. I've been in touch with my beast since I was five. It's a part of me. No idea why, it just is."

"Wow. No wonder you have such tight control." Decker shifted, and a ripple of muscle caught Gray's attention. Though Decker was Circ, he seemed more cut and defined with larger muscle mass than most Circs. And why Gray found that trait so appealing, he couldn't say. He liked large breasts, a rounded ass, and womanly curves. Not the hard body of a man.

"Gray?" Decker's smile faded. "Are we going to finally get this out of the way or what?"


"You give me that look, and I sense a fight brewing. You want to hit me; I can feel it. I've tried to ignore it, but honestly, it freaks me out. Not me, my beast."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"The way you --"

"And I don't want to know. Let's talk about Al Ross."

Bas sighed. "Fine, hero. Have it your way."

Gray gritted his teeth. You should call me hero after all the times I've saved your ass. Your tight, muscular, biteable ass.

The thought was decidedly feral, and Gray took a heavy grip on his beast and shoved the fucker back down. Fine time for the creature to turn sexually aggressive.

"Al Ross," Gray continued, hoping he didn't sound as breathless as he felt. Thank God the table concealed his erection from sight, because for damn sure his sweatpants would only call attention to it. "Seems Ross keeps calling others to him. We're not sure how he's doing it, but he's amassed at least half a dozen rogues who've gone off the grid. A few have been found dead, but we have no idea what happened to the others. We only know about the dead rogues because we'd been tracking the experimental soldiers from the Circ plant down in Ecuador. It's the one we shut down last year."

"Our first op," Decker said with surprise.

"Yeah. Apparently we missed a few rogues, because they resurfaced in Portland, of all places. One of our contacts spotted them and reported in before losing sight of them. Then more reports came in from an old friend of mine."


"Jack Keiser. He runs a bunch of psychics in Bend, Oregon. The Cascades is near his area, and when he caught wind of a Circ in the mountains, he called the admiral."

"Keiser." Decker frowned. "Why is that name familiar?"

"Jack was a part of the Dawn Endeavor project a while ago. Then some shit went down he had to take care of, and he left. He was also apparently part of the Psychic Warfare Program long before its funding was cut."

Interesting how Decker's scent changed. His expression remained intent, but Gray caught a hint of the man's unease.

"You sure you can trust the guy? I heard some stories about the assholes in that program." Decker snorted. "A bunch of thugs with guns, forcing people to believe in ESP. Gimme a break."

Gray raised a brow. "You've seen a lot of weird shit the past year. Circs aren't normal. We change into creatures that look less than human. You know, claws and fangs and armored skin? Uh, not normal either."

"Yeah, but genetics can be altered. I'm not into the mind freaks. The PWP was a total mess."

Decker knew more about the psychic program than he let on. "What do you know about it?"

"Not much. Just rumors. Now about this Ross."

"What are you hiding, Decker?" Gray had refrained from opening his mind and linking to Decker's because instinct told him it would only bring them closer together. That, and he never trespassed without permission unless dealing with the enemy. But he was dying to know what Decker thought. "There are known psychics in the world today. For all you know, I can read your mind."

Decker blinked, then broke into gales of laughter. Full chuckles that eased the tension in his frame and made him more than handsome but downright beautiful. "That's rich. Reading my mind. If you could, I wouldn't be sitting here right now."

Gray frowned. "What the hell does that mean?"

Before he could blink, Decker stood and rounded the table. He shoved Gray back against the kitchen counter and caged him between strong arms. Holy shit. When the hell had Decker gotten so fast?

"How about I show you what I mean?" Decker kissed him with brutal force, mashing his mouth against Gray's and groaning as he pulled Gray closer. The deep rumble of a purr vibrated through Decker into Gray, and the sensation of finding what he'd been missing for so long struck Gray hard.

Not used to being dominated by anyone, he pushed back. But Decker wouldn't let go. Without thinking about it, Gray took charge of the kiss and changed in the same instant. He ripped through his shirt with claws that sprang out between one heartbeat and the next. Though he didn't need to fully change like the man-made Circs, he'd been pretending to be one of them for so long he just naturally did it.

Gray's body grew larger. Taller and with more muscle mass, his frame suddenly surpassed Decker's for sheer brawn. His skin darkened to his mother's natural brown, a fact that always pleased him, the connection to his African roots one he treasured. But he had no room now to dwell on family, not with his erection pushing him to find ease. When he stepped closer and muscled Decker so that his back hit the counter, he felt Decker's answering hard-on.

He snarled and pulled back, pleased to see his partner's bloodied lips, the hint of fangs and elongating pupils preceding Decker's change. "Don't ever try to push me around."

Decker blinked, and Gray saw his beast, that beautiful animal he was so taken with, staring back at him. "Then stop being such a pussy and take what's yours," Decker growled.

Before Gray could stop him, Decker shoved a hand down Gray's pants and tightly squeezed his cock. The firm grip promised pleasure Gray had only dreamed about. And then the pleasure turned to a hint of pain as long nails scraped the flesh of his belly. Decker eased into his change, growing out of a shirt that split open as he grew taller than Gray.

His skin color darkened but remained a few shades lighter than Gray's. His eyes turned a dazzling light blue, the contrast of such bright eyes against his now nearly black and lengthening hair captivating. Decker continued to pump Gray while he grew, and Gray struggled to remain in control.

Only with this man did he lose himself to his beast. And the creature wanted more. It wanted a fight, a playful interlude he considered foreplay. As much as Gray didn't want to see Decker as a sexual, attractive partner, he could no longer deny he'd been avoiding the truth for too long.

"Who are you calling a pussy?" Gray taunted. "You're so big and clumsy, you trip over your own feet. In the time it takes you to change, I'm normally protecting you from getting your ass handed to you by the enemy."

Instead of growling back, Decker grinned. "Where's the enemy now, hero?" He tugged Gray's cock. "'Cause you seem pretty happy to see me."

Hearing the hated hero on Decker's lips pushed him past reason. Gray roared and yanked Decker's hand from his pants. Then he shoved Decker to the floor and landed hard on top of him. They grappled and fought, not doing any more damage than a scrape here, a bruise there. Until they lay on top of one another, chest to chest, groin to groin.

"Fuck." Decker panted, his eyes wild, his body steel hard and hot. "Let me suck you off. Let me lick you down and swallow you whole." Then the bastard added, "Please."

Gray kissed him and dueled with his tongue while he shoved a hand between them. He found the wet front of Decker's sweats and groaned, aroused anew that his partner desired him. Male Circs, when aroused, secreted a lubricant to ease penetration. By the amount saturating Decker's pants, the Circ wanted Gray. Badly.

As much as Gray wanted him.

To Gray's shock, his cock was slick as well. He'd never before reacted the way other Circs did. He didn't have mating heats, and he didn't grow hard and wet for his sexual partner. Packaged lube and condoms all the way with women when he went back door. Until this morning, with a man. With Decker.

His partner ripped his mouth away and growled, "Do it." Then he bucked into Gray's hand when Gray nicked his cock with a claw. "Oh fuck. Yeah, more. Make it hurt, Gray."

Gray instinctively knew what Decker needed. He bit the man's shoulder and scraped his chest with his freed hand, clawing rows of possession down Decker's hard chest. With his other hand, he jerked him off with fierce tugs, making sure to graze his balls as well.

The scent of chocolate, need, and all-consuming lust saturated the area until Gray breathed Decker in and out.

"Yes. Yes." Decker came hard, flooding Gray's hand. "All of it. Oh shit, take it. For you," came out in a raspy plea, the beast purring once more. "Rub it in."

Gray took his partner's cum and rubbed it over his own belly, liking the mingled smell of Decker over him. Circs didn't worry about infection or disease, and with no risk of pregnancy with Decker, he had no need of a condom, making it pure pleasure to feel his partner's seed over his skin. The scent permeated the air, drawing him closer, and increased his own need. He literally hurt, ablaze with the need to fuck Sebastian Decker. A mating heat he finally experienced for this one impossible male.

Decker lay passive beneath him. Then he turned his head to the right, a subtle surrender Gray accepted without hesitation. He let go of Decker and jumped to his feet. "Up on your knees."

Hastily obeying, Decker didn't ask questions. He wrenched Gray's pants down and took his thick cock to the back of his throat.

"Motherfucker. Oh yeah. That's it." Gray couldn't help thrusting as he stared down at Decker's lips wrapped around his shaft. Large hands fondled his inner thighs and sac, and he nearly lost it. But he didn't want it to be over so soon and forced himself to hold on.

"You're good at this. So good." He sighed and ran the tip of a claw over Decker's cheek. Watching his mate -- the man, he corrected his beast's thoughts in a hurry -- hollow his cheeks as he blew him was a sight he'd never forget. A carnal memory he'd take to his grave. And then Decker blew his mind. Literally.

He sucked harder and shoved one slick, human finger inside Gray's virgin ass.

Gray roared and clenched Decker's shoulders as he came down his partner's throat. The orgasm blinded him, the rushing climax obliterating all thought from Gray, the man, until only affection and need remained behind in the beast.

Decker swallowed him down and licked his cock clean. Then he stood on shaky legs, still changed, and still Gray's. Without thinking about the wrongness of it all, Gray heeded his beast.

"Go lie on my bed, facedown. I want that ass in the air. It's time I showed you who's really in charge."

Copyright © Marie Harte


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