It’s release day!!! Today, The Drunken Dog will be let loose in the world, so you better lock your doors. Nah, just kidding. The Drunken Dog is a pub, nothing to fear.
This story… It didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to LOL
I wrote it for an either-or call. JMS Books has these short story calls every other month, and I wrote The Drunken Dog for Sugar or Spice. It’s a spice story, and as soon as I saw it, I started plotting a sci-fi story in my head. I soon realised it was way too big for the 12k that’s the maximum limit.
Then one day, I was in my kitchen baking, and I had my phone playing a random Spotify list. One of the songs they played was Longer Than You’ve Been Alive by Old 97’s.
It’s about a rockstar who says that even though ‘Rockin’ roll is very good for me’ it’s not always great, and some nights he might have been checking the clock.
While I stood there kneading dough, I made up an entire story in my head. My rockstar would be a vampire since they in the lyric say they’ve been doing this for longer than you’ve been alive. And I had this idea of him needing to end his career because with social media and cameras everywhere it’s not easy to hide that you’re not ageing, and he was to stage his death.
Rock jumps won’t kill you until one of them does
Well they’ll say “He died doing what he loves”
In a few minutes, the story had grown pretty big in my head. I had this image of him being on stage and scenting someone he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. He needed away from his rockstar persona, and he’s not the easiest person to love so there was no certainty the guy he wanted would want him back, and on and on the story built in my mind.
When I started writing The Drunken Dog, I put a vampire in it. I put him on stage, he caught a spicy scent and wanted to find the source of it. Is it the full story I made up in my mind? Nope. I still only had 12k to play with, and the story I created would never fit on 12k. Plus Zev, the other main character, is a werewolf with problems of his own.
Zev’s part of the Halfhide pack that we first got to know in Cup o’ Sugar. You do not have to have read it to read The Drunken Dog, but that’s where you first will hear about the pack.
Zev Nightfall has a secret. For two years, he’s been the beta in a loosely knitted werewolf pack, but he’s not a werewolf. He’s a crossbreed, part wolf, part fae, which is a death sentence in most packs. That’s not his only problem. One night he meets Otis, a vampire. Shifters and vampires aren’t friends, yet fighting is the last thing on Zev’s mind.
Otis Miller is in the middle of rebuilding his rockstar persona. Again. A hundred years ago, all he had to do was to move when people started noticing him not ageing. With cameras and social media, it doesn’t work anymore, and he isn’t sure he has the energy to start over. Then there is the shifter coming to the bar where he’s singing. He makes Otis want to jump off the stage and never look back.
Zev knows he shouldn’t get involved with a vampire; he has enough problems as it is. But Otis is alone and vulnerable, and it tugs at Zev’s heartstrings. Normally, Otis stays away from other supernatural beings, but something about Zev makes him want to curl up on his lap and forget about the world around them. But how would two people from enemy species make things work, and will Zev’s pack ever accept not only a crossbreed but a vampire as well?
Gay Paranormal Romance: 12,121 words
Zev Nightfall of the Halfhide pack pushed through the door to The Drunken Dog—one of the smallest bars he’d ever been to. He’d discovered it a couple of weeks before when he’d been out wandering, and it’d quickly become his hidey-hole.
He stopped before nearing the bar. There was a band playing, and worse, the place smelled of vampire. He groaned. He needed a drink away from the guys, but the scent of shifters was like catnip to vampires, and while he didn’t have proof since he’d always done his damnedest to stay away from them, he suspected his scent was worse.
Looking at the small stage they’d built along one of the walls, he met the gaze of the singer. The moment he did, he messed up the lyric and fell silent for several seconds. Fuck.
Zev glanced at the door, ready to run should the vampire decide to attack, but he was singing again. His black jeans hung low on his hips, and he had a white unbuttoned shirt, showing off a large butterfly tattoo half-hidden in his underwear. Zev snorted. Vampires.
He couldn’t claim to know any, but they were always so dramatic. Why on earth would anyone go through the pain of getting tattooed with silver mixed in the ink? Or he suspected it was what he’d done. Maybe it was ordinary ink and would be gone when he rose the next day. Maybe it was one of those rub-on tattoos. He chuckled to himself.
Leaning against the bar, he nodded at Gerald—an old man with white hair and watchful eyes who owned the bar. “Whiskey, please.” As Gerald reached for the bottle, he spoke again. “Make it a double.”
Gerald nodded. “Long day?”
Zev sighed. Long day, long week, long life. “I’ve had better, and I’ve had worse.”
Gerald smiled, a quick twitch of his lips. “This is not the solution, son. You’ve been in here a lot lately.”
Son? No one had ever called him son, and while it was a word thrown in as some would say man or dude or asshole or whatever, it made his heart ache.
When he’d met Roarak a couple of years ago, he’d believed he’d finally found a home. They’d built a small pack, though no other pack acknowledged them, and especially not since Roarak had taken a male mate—a non-shifter male mate.
In most packs being queer was a death sentence, but they weren’t most packs.
Zev believed the others were happy—he hoped they were—and he’d believed, hoped, he’d find peace, but he was still an outsider. He loved them, but he wasn’t like other wolves, and they knew. He kept as much distance as he could, and he never shifted with them, but they all had working noses.
There was no way they couldn’t tell he was of mixed breeds—another death sentence in most packs—but they were polite enough not to say anything.
He snorted. The guys were many things, but polite wasn’t one of them.
Roarak knew he submitted out of courtesy and respect rather than some ingrained need to follow pack structure. It was nothing you could hide from your alpha—he’d tried many times, but they could always feel it. Roarak hadn’t tried to kill him though, and the more time that went by, the surer he became Roarak never would. So, he had found a home—all he’d ever believed he wanted—but there was still a hole in his soul.
He didn’t want to leave, but he would if he caused problems for the others.
They could sense his lack of… inclination to follow hierarchy—they had to—but no one had challenged him. Roarak had named him beta, and Zev believed he was strong enough to hold the position. If anyone challenged him, there would be trouble, but he tried not to think about it. He feared there would be trouble whether the threat came from within the pack or from outside of it.
He sighed, grabbed his glass with a nod to Gerald, and went to sit at an empty table in the corner. Along the walls, there were four booths with wine-red vinyl sofas. It was dark enough for humans to have a hard time making out each other’s features which suited Zev fine. He wanted to hide from the world for a while.
* * * *
Otis Miller struggled to stay on the stage. There was a shifter in the bar—a warm, big, juicy shifter, and his scent… Otis messed up the lyrics again, and Dan, his bassist, glared at him. Fucker better keep his mind on his job instead of wasting energy on glaring at Otis.
The spicy scent of the shifter was mixed with that of the human audience. Most of them were flocking around the small stage, but not the shifter. Otis tried to see past the glaring lights to the back of the bar, but even with his superior eyesight, he couldn’t see where the shifter had gone.
He gave one of the women a sultry look and gyrated his hips until he could taste the lust wafting off the onlookers. He didn’t care. It had been a long time since he got a kick out of it, but being a rock star was what he did, and he was working his way up again.
He’d had to kill his last persona.
It was becoming harder and harder to be a musician. This might be his last round, at least for some time. A hundred years ago, he made himself have an accident, moved to another country, and started over. He hadn’t played rock a hundred years ago. Back then he’d stuck to blues, but rock suited his looks better. He could pull off a rock star persona. The problem was the cameras.
Social media would kill his career.
He winced as he messed up the lyrics once again, and this time Dan wasn’t the only one glaring at him. He gave Jason, his drummer, the finger, and continued the song.
The spicy scent of the shifter was messing with his mind. Heat coursed through his body and he ached—not his normal reaction to a shifter. Normally, he got hungry, but never overcome with need. His teeth grew sharp, and he signaled to Dan that it was time for a break. It wasn’t, they had three more songs until it was time for a break, but he couldn’t sing with his teeth out. Or he could, but if someone was to snap a picture… Fucking cell phones.
When the song ended, he grabbed the mic and informed the audience in a suggestive tone that he was thirsty—they had no idea how true it was—but promised to be back in thirty minutes, and after the break, they would take requests.
“What the fuck is wrong with you tonight?” Dan put his bass down with jerky motions, and Otis aborted an eye roll. Humans.
“I have a thing I need to deal with. Worry not, dearest, I’ll be back in time for the next set.” He ignored Dan’s middle finger and headed for the bar. “Rum with ice, if you please, Gerald.”
Otis had known Gerald since Gerald was in his twenties. It would be a sad day when he passed, and looking at the wrinkled hand handing him his glass, he feared the day was approaching quickly.
When Gerald’s eyes hardened, he shook his head. “I’m unfocused, is all. He hasn’t done anything.”
“I can ask him to leave. Which one is it?”
Otis swept his gaze over the people but couldn’t find the source of his distraction. He pulled in a breath and turned toward the booths. “There.” He nodded at the shadows in the corner booth.
“Oh.” Gerald frowned.
“Has he been rude?”
“Oh no, quite the opposite.”
Otis narrowed his eyes. “You don’t want to throw him out?”
It was a surprise. Gerald preferred his bar empty—though it didn’t generate much of an income—and normally he took great pleasure in asking people to leave.
“There is something about him.”
“Oh, I agree.” Otis hadn’t meant to sound as tart as he did, but what the fuck? He was supposed to be Gerald’s favorite monster. He’d fed from him once or twice, though it had been decades ago.
Amusement sparked in Gerald’s pale eyes. “He’s interesting.”
Otis waved a hand, then he stilled. “Interesting how?”
“I don’t know… He doesn’t speak much, and yet I want to listen to what he has to say. It’s rare, I most often want people to shut up.”
Was Gerald smitten? But he was straight. Otis grabbed his rum, dodged a woman trying to touch his bare chest, and weaved through the crowd.
When he reached the booth, he put the glass on the table and slid down on the couch across from the shifter.
Otis frowned; it was what he was gonna say. “You leave.”
Before Otis realized what he was doing, he leaned closer and inhaled. A groan escaped his lips, and his cock pushed uncomfortably against his jeans. Fuck, he smelled of sex and sunshine, or… no he didn’t. He smelled of some exotic spice, but it made him think of sunshine and sex—good sex, not… He blocked old memories.
The shifter sighed. “All I want is a quiet drink. I don’t need any of your drama.”
Otis huffed. “There is no drama.” He pushed his hair off his shoulder and gave him his best seductive gaze. He waited for the scent of arousal to spread, but it didn’t come. What the hell? He tried again. Shifters weren’t immune to glamour, they weren’t as easy to lure as humans, but they weren’t immune.
Otis gritted his teeth. “What are you?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?”
Otis studied him. He looked like a shifter—big and broad-shouldered, and he wouldn’t mind a peek at all the golden skin he hid under black fabric. The leather jacket was pretty much what he expected on a shifter, the clothes too—practical, not fashionable. He’d probably bought the T-shirt at Walmart or maybe a thrift shop. Shifters lacked fashion sense.
“What’s your name?” Otis took a sip of the rum to distract himself. He was a shifter, but there was something…
Shifter name, no doubt about it. For a second, he’d believed him to be fae. Their taste was unforgettable, but they were nasty creatures.
“I’m Otis.” He put his hand over his heart.
Zev nodded. “Is that a wise name when in the music business?”
“Oh, I’ve been Otis before. Most times I’m Otis.” He shrugged. “Sometimes I’m Oscar, but I do not look like an Oscar.” He fluffed his hair and fluttered his eyelashes.
When Zev rolled his eyes, Otis abandoned all pretense and glared at him. “Why are you here?”
“I only wanted a drink. I didn’t know you’d be here.”
Otis studied him for a few seconds. It was the truth, but he should ask him to leave. Maybe they could agree on which nights he’d be here and which nights Zev could have a drink. It was only fair, especially since Gerald liked him, but Otis found himself unwilling to move away.
Zev took a sip of his whiskey—Otis liked a man who drank whiskey. To mimic Zev, Otis took a sip of his rum and looked into Zev’s eyes with a promise of darker things.
Otis almost startled—almost. Why didn’t his glamour work?
“You vamps are always so…” Zev shook his head.
“Play Bad Moon Rising for me.”
Otis huffed, then when Zev grinned, he groaned. He was one fine man. His icy blue eyes pierced Otis’s soul and left him tingly.
Zev got to his feet; his glass still half full.
“Wait.” Otis reached out but stopped himself before he could make contact. What was he doing? It was best if Zev left.
Tilting his head, Zev sat again. “For what?”
“What are you?”
The scowl wasn’t what he’d hoped for.
“You’re a shifter. From around here?”
“The pack is here, but I wasn’t born here if that’s what you’re asking.”
Otis didn’t know what he was asking. He only wanted Zev to stay.