An Excerpt from Astrid Amara's "Next of Kin" in Hell Cop
As Jay left the ICU, he saw the slim figure of the man who had touched his bare skin the day before. He was leaving the hospital, backpack slung over his shoulder. Instinctively, Jay rushed after him.
The guy was young, in his early twenties. His thick black hair was styled carefully, but his clothes were worn and clearly used. There was an interesting hesitation in his step as he looked across the street at a yellow-skinned, ram-horned taxi driver. He glanced quickly away.
The neighborhood west of the hospital bordered on dangerous. Jay trailed the man from the hospital at a safe distance, wondering what the hell he was doing. He was in the middle of an investigation, and rather than work, he was following some guy home because he had touched him. Being a thirty-year-old virgin was turning him into a pervert.
The man turned down a shuttered and graffiti-strewn street and plunged deeper into the neighborhood. Now he was in the company of addicts and prostitutes.
At one point, this had been a quaint working community with family homes. Now each dilapidated residence slumped under the weight of years of neglect. Large, untended shrubs bulged out over the sidewalks. Broken cars sat like massive lawn ornaments in the middle of grassless yards.
The man stopped at a corner house with a wooden porch that slanted with rotted beams. Gang signs were written in black paint across the front. He turned the key and hastily stepped inside.
Jay trailed the man up the walkway, then found himself hesitating. He’d followed him all this way. It would be foolish to leave now. He would just ask the guy why he could touch Jay’s skin. It was something novel and Jay wanted to learn more about it, that was all. It had nothing to do with the tightness of the man’s ass or the mixture of masculinity and beauty in his face.
Jay heard a van screech to a halt behind him. He immediately ducked into the porch shadows, hidden by an overgrown oleander bush. This was ridiculous. Not only was he stalking the damn guy, he was hiding in the bushes.
A cheery whistle filled the air as a large blonde woman with breasts that were nearly popping out of her skintight tank top skipped up the porch steps. Jay looked at her, taken aback by the brazen half-nudity of her delivery costume. The tight spandex bike shorts barely covered her ass.
“Delivery!” she chirped, chewing her gum. She popped a bubble.
Jay leaned out from the shadows for a better look. The delivery boxes in her hands had no labels. And her skin had no pores.
Jay shook his head. Even living in this shithole, the man somehow had enough money to hire a succubus?
The demon knocked again, her perfect smile plastered on her face. “Delivery for Brian Day,” she said in a sultry voice.
The man opened the door. “I’m Brian Day.” He frowned. “But I didn’t order anything.”
The demon took in a deep whiff of air. And then she suddenly shifted, growing in size, skin darkening, growing hair. The thighs within her tight bike shorts widened and bulked out, growing meaty and hard. The demon metamorphosed into a large, brawny man.
The man, Brian Day, gaped at the demon. His face flushed. Jay raised an eyebrow. It seemed he wasn’t the only queer on the block.
The air smelled sickeningly sweet as the succubus released pheromones as part of its illusion.
Jay sank farther into the shadow. The demon finished changing and was now a strapping deliveryman with a roguish grin and two days’ worth of stubble. His tank top fit tight across well-developed abs. The smell of hot, greasy pizza and charbroiled beef wafted from the steaming boxes.
Brian stared openly. “Uh…I didn’t…order…”
“Paid for by an admirer,” the demon said cheerfully. He pushed himself through Brian’s door and shut it behind them.
Jay should leave.
He really should.
This was obviously just a role-playing prostitute. He had no business interfering.
Instead, he moved closer to the filmy window, to watch as the succubus offered his wares, food and otherwise. Jay felt like a filthy deviant. That didn’t stop the tingles of desire that shot through him, the excitement of stolen glances.
“You hungry?” the succubus asked. He held the boxes of food aloft and stepped closer, until he was standing only inches from Brian.
Brian’s face flushed bright red. “Yeah.” His glance wavered between the succubus’s face and the pizza box.
“I got sausage mushroom pizza,” the demon said. “Or chicken wings? You want chicken wings?” He held up the other box. “I also got a steak sandwich.”
Brian looked hungrily at the boxes. While his nostrils flared at the smells, the succubus placed the boxes on the floor and took off his shirt. His smile didn’t waver—it stayed creepily perfect. Jay had seen far better impersonations of humanity from other demons. This guy was a rube.
Brian glanced at the succubus’s face, and his lips parted. His eyes dilated with arousal, and he stepped closer.
Jay could smell the demon’s pheromones even from outside the house. His dick hardened, and he saw Brian was also flushed with arousal. He moved even closer, captive to the sight and scent.
Brian hesitated, hands balled into fists at his sides. And then the demon leaned forward and kissed him.
Jay stood still, entranced, watching as Brian returned the succubus’s kiss with pulsing hunger.
Jay, who had never himself kissed anyone, felt a surge of aching jealousy. It looked so damned good. The demon’s tongue plunged into Brian’s mouth, and Brian’s body trembled.
The demon tore at Brian’s clothes as they kissed. Within seconds Brian stood there in the middle of his living room naked.
The succubus blocked Jay’s view of Brian’s cock. But he could see the flush of desire across the rest of Brian’s body. Unlike Jay’s own body, hard and covered in hair, strong and scarred, Brian’s body was perfect. Slim, flawless, pale. Brian’s voice trembled as the demon kissed his way down Brian’s chest, laving each nipple before sinking to his knees. The succubus looked up and smiled.
“Can I suck your cock, Brian?” the succubus asked.
Brian’s eyes stared down at him, pupils wide, hands shaking. “Yeah.”
Jay smirked. Like the answer would ever be no.
The demon smiled up at Brian and then placed his large palms on Brian’s buttocks, pulling his groin forward. Jay strained to see better. He watched the succubus pull Brian’s long, lean shaft deep into his mouth. Brian threw his head back, eyes clenched shut, and moaned.
Jay watched in silence. The succubus was good at his job. He pulled back completely and then slammed his head forward, sucking in all of Brian’s cock, burrowing his nose into Brian’s dark pubic hair. And then he pulled back and repeated the movement. One of his hands reached behind Brian. Jay couldn’t see exactly what he was doing, but suddenly Brian arched forward into the succubus’s mouth, crying out. Jay thought he could see the succubus pumping his finger into Brian’s ass. With his other hand, the demon fondled and cupped Brian’s balls.
Jay’s breathing was rapid, gasping. This was so sick—and so good. This was better than porn. He could smell the pheromones, his own desire. The demon frigged Brian’s ass and sucked his cock with an inhumanly rapid rhythm now; Brian stunned between alternating thrusts of tongue and finger, clearly in heaven.
The demon’s figure shimmered. A large, spiny, blue tail slowly grew out of the base of his spine, and it whipped in the air like an eel. It coiled, ready to strike. Its entire length was studded with blades. Jay had seen those razor sharp snakes of muscle cut a man in half before he could blink.
Jay’s arousal died. He ripped his gloves off and kicked in the shabby door.
“Freeze!” he bellowed. He unholstered and charged his shock-volt pistol.
The demon spun, teeth growing, fangs pushing through his mouth. Its eyes split into red slits, and it screeched. Its skin rippled as it lunged.
The demon’s tail whipped toward Jay with lightning speed, cracking the air. Jay snapped out his arm and grabbed the tail with his bare hand. The demon screamed as his skin burned, charred flesh and hair stinking the air. Jay jerked the demon down onto the ground.
It kept growing, scales bursting over its illusory human skin, tail twitching desperately in Jay’s iron grasp.
“Metro Demonic Unit!” Jay shouted. He wasn’t about to show his credentials. The demon thrashed as it burned. “You are under arrest!”
The demon tried to kick Jay’s feet from under him. Jay stepped hard on the demon’s stomach and kicked it. “Who summoned you?” he hissed. He aimed his pistol at the demon’s head.
The demon continued to screech. Jay’s fingers burned through flesh, and he could feel the raw bones of the demon’s tail. The demon whipped it loose and coiled it close to its body. Jay slammed his free hand into the demon’s stomach, and the flesh instantly burned.
“Who summoned you?” Jay shouted.
The demon hissed at Brian, who stood naked and stunned.
Jay put the barrel of his pistol against the demon’s forehead, but before he could fire, a burst of yellow light blinded him. The succubus vanished in an instant. The smell of singed flesh mingled sickly with the salty, earthy perfume of sex pheromones and sausage pizza.
Jay lowered his pistol, breathing heavily. Then he gave the man a blinding smile.
“Hi.”Copyright © Astrid Amara, October 2008
All Rights Reserved
An Excerpt from Nicole Kimberling's "Red Sands" in Hell Cop
The Whitecrescent Hotel occupied a quarter mile of beachfront property at what used to be the northern edge of Parmas. In the fifty years since the hotel had been built, the city had grown up around it in an architecturally lackluster rash of square, flat-roofed buildings. The smooth blue and white hotel facade stood out: a relic of Parmas’s bygone heyday. The hotel had been designed by the famous modernist architect, Talu, before the Commons Revolution when this section of Parmas had been a winter playground for the old sorcerous families.
Michael had only come to the famous Whitecrescent cabana parties—never inside.
“Nice hotel,” he remarked. “Good to know our tax dollars are being spent economically.”
“We’ve got a deal with them from way back before the Commons Revolution,” Argent said. “This place is cheaper for us than some off-ramp Motel Hell.”
Michael followed Argent into the lapis lazuli-tiled lobby, feeling grubby and underdressed. And also decidedly inhuman.
Sleek blue leather armchairs sat next to chrome and glass coffee tables laden with financial newspapers and luxury yachting magazines.
Glancing down at the muscular curve of Argent’s ass, Michael recalled that, yes, the Whitecrescent did have a boat launch.
“I’ve got your room, sir! 777.”
Turning, Michael saw a uniformed cop coming toward him. He was young, and the blue armored vest looked slightly awkward on him. He held his helmet in one hand and a couple of hotel keys in the other. He had pale skin and dark hair and approached Argent with the open enthusiasm of a first-week freshman.
“Thanks.” Argent took the key from him. “Mr. Gold, this is Officer Day. He’ll be in the room next to yours.”
They shook hands and then took the old-fashioned elevator up to the top floor. Argent chatted with Day about the Metro Demonic Unit’s annual poker tournament, which Day seemed to think Argent would win.
“He’s got a great game face,” Day told Michael. “You never know what he’s thinking.”
“I think Mr. Gold might find a way to beat me,” Argent said. The elevator lurched to a stop, and Argent opened the cage door.
“Oh yeah, I read that in your file.” Day turned to Michael and tapped the side of his own head with a gloved hand. “You’ve got telepathy, right?”
“Only with direct skin-to-skin contact,” Michael said. “So unless I’m sitting on Argent’s lap during the game, his poker title is safe from me.”
Argent and Day exchanged a brief, smug look. God, did Day know about him and Argent? Probably. Embarrassment crept through him, making him blush.
Argent opened the door to 777. Michael started to go in, but Day stopped him. Argent went in ahead of them.
“He’s checking to make sure it’s all clear,” Day assured him. Argent returned a minute later.
“I opened up the balcony door to get some air inside.” He gave Day a nod of dismissal.
“I’ll be in the next room,” Day told Michael. “There’s a connecting door if you need me.”
From inside the room, Michael smelled fresh sea air and moved toward it. The room wasn’t large, but it was beautiful. The walls, furnishings, carpet, and even the abstract painting above the massive bed were all shades of white, cream or bone. Pale curtains billowed out in front of the sliding glass door that led to a small balcony edged with a wrought iron railing, whose balusters were decorated with modernist palm trees.
Blue Whitecrescent Hotel umbrellas dotted the beach below. A few people swam, all of them tourists, since locals typically found the water too cold in the springtime.
He dropped his backpack next to the bed and noted, with embarrassment, the ring of red dust that fell from his pack onto the white carpet.
“I think I need to wash up,” he said.
“Just let me take a look in there first.” Argent stepped inside, then came the sound of a running tap. Argent poked his head back out, beckoning him forward. The flirtation in his eye was unmistakable. “Come on in, the water’s fine.”
A deep twitch of excitement passed through Michael’s exhausted body. He felt pretty sure that what Argent seemed to be suggesting went directly against both police procedure and his own common sense. Not that that made him want it less.
The bathroom was spacious and, like the rest of the room, white. The oblong, sunken tub was carved from a single, sparkling piece of white marble. It dominated the room. A small white marble bench sat alongside the tub, next to a chrome rack stocked with towels as big as bed sheets and two fluffy white bathrobes. There was also a shower stall enclosed by panes of frosted glass. The WC was hidden away behind a sliding door alongside a spacious, mirrored vanity.
“I started the bath,” Argent said.
“You could wash a whole sandstrider in that thing.” Michael started unbuttoning his shirt, then looked to Argent, who flashed him a quick smile.
“I’ll be right outside if you need me.” Argent started for the door.
A sudden feeling of vulnerability moved through Michael, and he heard himself saying, “I don’t mind if you stay with me. Just to be on the safe side.”
“Then I’ll be right here.” Argent stopped just inside the room, leaning casually against the doorframe. He took off his windbreaker to reveal a red and white polo shirt that was slightly too small in the sleeves. But then, Michael supposed everything was too small in the sleeves for Argent.
His expression gave nothing away. He was calm, friendly and professional, even while staring down at a naked half-demon. Although Michael normally tended toward self-consciousness, he didn’t feel so with Argent. Whether this was the result of previous familiarity or fatigue he could not be certain. Let Argent have a gander at all of him. He couldn’t care about that now. He just wanted to feel safe.
He slipped down into the steaming tub reclining against a smooth marble seat. His muscles relaxed, but the knot of worry remained in his gut.
“I’m sorry to have pulled you away from…whatever you were doing.”
“Just some maintenance on the boat.”Ah
, Michael thought, boat shoes
. That also explained the windbreaker, and probably, the tie.
a forty-foot ketch,” Argent said. “I live aboard.”
“I named her after my mom.” Argent gave him a grin. “I’m a shameless momma’s boy.”
“I’m more of a grandma’s boy myself,” Michael murmured. “Do you really think my father had anything to do with the snuffler?”
“I can’t rule it out,” Argent replied.
“But it just doesn’t make sense. It’s not his way.”
“Okay then.” Argent sat down on the bench next to the tub and leaned forward, elbows on knees. “Why don’t you tell me what you think happened to you?”
“Obviously I’ve been framed because of who I am,” Michael said. “Whoever killed Cassidy picked me because I’m an easy target, being half-demon.”
“But who knows that about you?”
“Apart from everyone who bought my father’s album?” Sarcasm edged Michael’s voice.
“Point taken, but what I mean is, who would know you were related to the victim? He had a different last name, and you two weren’t regularly seen together. It follows that the perpetrator would have had to be close enough to the victim to know who his cousins were, and that usually means that the perpetrator is a member of the family, I’m sorry to say.”
“So you still think I did it?” Michael asked.
“I don’t think so, no.”
“Why not? Apparently you think I’ve got a motive.” Michael found a tiny complimentary bottle of shampoo and lathered his hair.
“Yes, your grandmother’s inheritance, but we also know you are most likely not the killer because the victim had been dead for almost twenty-four hours before he was put into the portal with you.” Argent’s eyes roamed over his body openly. “Plus your shock-volt hadn’t deployed.”
“So who did it?” Michael smoothed lather over his neck and chest.
“I’m not sure yet. Can you think of anyone else who would benefit from your cousin’s death? Anyone with a grudge?”
“How should I know? As far as I knew, Cassidy was doing a good job following in his father’s footsteps. He got an engineering degree and became a clueless and judgmental nerd. At grandma’s funeral all he talked about were optimizing spells for sorcerous semiconductors.” Michael drew himself up to the edge of the tub. “Why not talk to his wife? Maybe she did it.”
“Summer Beaty? She, like you, is a person of interest,” Argent said.
“Person of interest,” Michael repeated the words, knowing that they were a standard phrase, yet wanting to believe that Argent meant more by them. Carefully, he reached out and pressed his fingertips against Argent’s calf.
Images quickly flashed from Argent’s mind into Michael’s. He glimpsed himself, naked, but not as he was now—naked on the white bed, stretched out, Argent’s hands closing around Michael’s hips, pulling him up, pushing his thick shaft into Michael’s tight ass. Blood drained into Michael’s own groin as the image sharpened from a vague notion to an explicit desire, almost like Argent was pushing the images toward him, one after another. He lay on the bed again, face up, legs apart. He stood bent over the marble vanity. He saw himself through Argent’s eyes, kneeling on a white sandy beach sucking hard on Argent’s cock.
The last image, a recollection rather than imagination, came stronger than the others. Argent apparently had a photographic memory, and he’d kept his eyes open the whole time.
Michael watched his own lips tighten and slide down Argent’s shaft. He experienced the feeling as Argent had: the dark, luscious heat of Michael’s mouth, the shock of Michael’s responsiveness. He felt Argent’s helpless reflexive thrust when Michael took him into his throat and also the restraint Argent forced on himself when Michael flinched in response. He felt Argent’s muscles trembling as Michael finished him off with his hand, face pressed against Michael’s stomach, tawny skin against black. Tight pleasure built and built until he finally shot his load, long strands of semen falling to the damp sand where Michael knelt.
The last image in Argent’s memory was Michael’s face, eyes turned up toward him, mouth swollen and about to speak, then falling silent when Argent’s friends had called him back to their volleyball game.
Then the contact was broken.
Argent pulled his leg away. Michael was glad that the tub hid his now erect penis. Michael splashed water on his face, mainly to hide his own embarrassment. When he’d touched Argent, he’d expected to find mild interest, not visions of himself in hard core.
Argent leaned down and said, “While you’re still a suspect, Mr. Gold, I’ll have to ask you to refrain from physical contact. You understand, don’t you?”
“Sure.” Michael nodded. “I just wanted to know if you secretly thought I did it. It’s a natural desire, to want to know if someone believes you’re a murderer.”
“What conclusion did you come to?”
“I couldn’t tell.” Michael couldn’t make himself face Argent. “You were thinking of something else. How can you be talking about murder while thinking about nothing but hardcore sex?”
“Let’s just call it my own form of multitasking.”Copyright © Nicole Kimberling, October 2008
All Rights Reserved
An Excerpt from Ginn Hale's "Touching Sparks" in Hell Cop
Moran took in James’s naked body stretched out against the cheap yellow sheets. He looked peaceful, like he was drifting off to sleep. His head rested on his crossed forearms, face turned away from Moran, damp, blond hair drying into ringlets at the nape of his neck. Moran followed the line of James’s straight spine down from his angular back to the tight muscles of his butt. His long legs parted just enough to tease Moran. Then James crossed his left calf over his right.
Moran caught his ankle and pulled James’s legs back apart. James didn’t resist him, didn’t even lift his head or ask why Moran needed to spread his thighs.
He was so trusting that it almost scared Moran.
Physically James had grown up a lot from the skinny teenager whom Moran could easily remember flipping somersaults on a black trampoline and waving at him from across the fence. But in other ways, James still seemed so young and so full of ideals that he reminded Moran of one of those legendary, golden youths who fought dragons with nothing more than righteousness to protect them.
Even in legends those boys died young.
Moran sat down beside James. The bed creaked with his weight, and James released a slow breath. Moran laid his hands against the small of James’s back. His skin felt cool and smooth, with just a hint of heat at the base of his spine. Moran spread his fingers, pushing against the firmness of James’s flesh. He felt a shiver pass through James’s muscles.
“Relax, Sparky.” His voice sounded too rough, even to himself.
Moran concentrated on the searing heat that seemed to always pulse through his chest. He let a little of it free to flow through his arms and pour over James as he massaged his back. For an instant, James tensed, and then slowly, his body relented. Moran pushed the heat deeper into James, feeling silky coolness on his hands and tasting earthy salt on his tongue.
“That’s good, Sparky,” he whispered. “Just relax and let me in.”
“Are you always gonna call me Sparky?” James sounded half asleep.
“You prefer Skinny-Jimmy?” Moran teased.
“No.” The languor in James’s voice made him sound childishly sullen. Moran smiled and kept working his hands over James, drinking in the pleasure of his slim body and searing away the dark traces of venom that haunted his veins.
Very little of the drug tainted James’s flesh, especially considering the places Moran had sent him. Still it was more than Moran wanted to feel. He couldn’t suppress his sense of guilt as the oily taste of venom seeped into his memory of James.
When they’d first met, Moran had been a patrol officer, three years out of academy. He’d rented an apartment across from the Sparks family’s quaint two-story house, and occasionally he caught glimpses of James—bounding, flipping, running, or lying in wait with his black camera in hand. Bill hadn’t liked the kid, but then, Bill hadn’t liked much, not by then.
Moran had talked to James from time to time, mostly about music and Moran’s dog. The kid made him smile, and he appreciated that.
Then James had gone away to college, and Bill had finally done it for real. Deep vertical gashes, cutting down nearly to bone. A week after the funeral, Moran found a small apartment closer to the station and far from his old neighbors and their curious, pitying glances.
He’d kept a couple of the photos James had given him. Now and then he’d noticed James’s name on the byline of a photo essay in a magazine, but he hadn’t expected to ever see him again.
Certainly he hadn’t thought that James would show up on his doorstep one late night looking surprisingly handsome and troubled.
It had been raining that night too.
James’s white shirt clung to the lean lines of his chest. His skin looked ghostly pale, and his deep brown eyes seemed almost black in the darkness. Moran had invited him in, found a towel and some dry clothes for him. The bathroom door stood ajar as James stripped and dressed, and Moran watched him with growing arousal. It was too easy to picture that sleek body arching under him. Too easy to imagine the way James would blush as he went down on Moran.
He offered James a beer after he emerged from the bathroom, and briefly Moran thought that James returned his hungry look. But then they started talking, and there was nothing remotely flirtatious about the conversation.
James’s roommate, a scrawny blond named Tony Allmon, had found himself a circle of rich, nasty friends and a venom addiction to go along with the bad company. In the wake of one of Tony’s parties, James had discovered that the venom was coming from demons that had been abducted from their home worlds and forced to battle against each other for entertainment. The defeated combatants—their savaged bodies still pumped with demonic endorphins and adrenaline—were often half-alive when they were dragged into grinders and processed into very potent venom that would be sold at the next match.
The information didn’t surprise Moran, not after eight years on the force. Poor people gambled on fighting dogs in pits, while the moneyed elite—especially hotbloods of sorcerous ancestry—preferred more exotic blood sports. But it was still the same thing. People were worse than demons most of the time.
But James had been appalled and furious. Moran had never seen him so angry. His cheeks flushed, and the muscles of his delicate jaw worked like steel cables. Moran sensed the chance of laying James had dropped to zero. He was too righteous and outraged.
It was just as well, Moran told himself. James was just a kid, a beautiful kid, but still a virgin for all Moran knew. And Moran didn’t want to be the son of a bitch who screwed him and then broke his heart in the morning.
After Bill, he didn’t think he knew how to be anything else.
It was almost a relief when James demanded to know what it would take to stop the summonings and fights. How could a ring of well-connected venom dealers be brought to justice?
Like an idiot, Moran told him, in detail, knowing that the reality of the work would seem overwhelming. The sheer difficulty of producing hard evidence and grooming informants took years. James listened and then thanked Moran. He left without finishing his beer.
Moran had expected James to organize a petition or maybe write an angry editorial to the paper, not to personally go in after evidence. Certainly he hadn’t been prepared for James to return—again in the dead of night—with pictures, addresses, and names.
Moran knew he should have turned James away then. He should have told him that the police would take it from there. But the information had been too good, and James had been too well placed. Over the course of the past year, James just kept getting better. Now Moran was close to being able to bring down the man at the top. One clear image was all he needed. But he knew he was building the conviction at James’s expense.
Moran stroked James’s shoulder, felt the tender bruises, and silently cursed himself. He worked his fingers in slow circles, pushing more heat and energy into James. The bruises faded. Moran felt knotted muscles relax under his hands.
James gave a soft, contented sound. He turned his head to look at Moran. A flush already colored his pale cheeks. His lids lowered, and his lips parted as if he were on the verge of sleep.
“That feels so…good,” James said softly.Copyright © Ginn Hale, October 2008
All Rights Reserved