Hello everyone! Holly here stealing a spot on the blog again 😊 Did you know that it’s National Button Day today? It is, and I happened to write a story to celebrate it. It might be hard to tell from the title, How to Soothe a Dragon, but it’s about a button.
I didn’t think about this story as a dystopian until I hopped onto Goodreads to grab the link, and the first line I saw was:
There’s a remarkably sweet love story set amidst a deeply dystopian world in this novella
I stared at it for a few seconds and thought: Yeah… They’re right. LOL
So we have a dystopian world where aliens have invaded Earth and rule through mind control – you’d think as the creator of this world, the word dystopian would’ve popped up in my mind, right? But nope, I’ve only been thinking about dragons, aliens, lemons, and buttons.
Derek is human, but where everyone else follows the Pacurians (the alien race) blindly, he is not affected by their mind control. He can sense when someone is trying to control him, but he doesn’t have to obey if he doesn’t want to.
His neighbour, Ocren, is Pacurian, and he’s always chasing Derek, which Derek finds terrifying. The problem is that Ocren is a cop, so Derek doesn’t think there is any point in reporting him.
Then one day when he comes home from work, there is a button on his living room floor. A black button. The same kind of buttons Ocren has on his uniform.
Derek unlocked the door to his apartment and stilled. Nothing was out of place, but the air was wrong. He didn’t know how he could tell, but something had the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end.
Slowly, he took a step away from the door and locked it. He hugged the bag of groceries to his chest. Lemons, he’d bought lemons with his last grocery money—and some beans and rice. He feared beans and rice would be what he’d live on for the coming week, and then he’d die. A bit dramatic perhaps, but he had no money, and he had no work. How the hell would he live?
Panic closed in on him. He’d have to leave, and with no income, he wouldn’t be able to find another place to live. Casey would let him sleep at her place for a few nights, but he couldn’t move in. Her apartment was tiny.
He put the bag on the kitchen table and pulled out one of the chairs. Right as he sat, the light from the living room window reflected on something on the floor. He stared. Had he dropped something? For a few seconds, he didn’t move, but then got up and stepped closer to whatever it was.
The air refused to move out of his lungs as he stared at the button. It was a few feet from the window, but it could’ve come from someone squeezing through and getting caught on the window frame.
A Pacurian had been in his apartment.
If he remembered correctly, their buttons were the same color as their uniforms. There were some golden details, but the primary color was the same as the uniform.
The button on his floor was black—a police uniform button.
A cop had broken into his apartment, and there was only one individual wearing black who knew where he lived. Since nothing was taken or out of place, he had no idea what Ocren had been doing there, but it had to end. He had to be able to come and go without fear of getting eaten by his neighbor—not that he’d be living here for much longer. And said neighbor had to respect his boundaries. Being a cop didn’t give him the right to break into Derek’s apartment.
He grabbed a lemon, cut it in half, and opened his window. If Casey was wrong about the lemons, Ocren would get a good laugh, and then he’d kill Derek, but this had to end.
His legs were unsteady as he walked down the grid stair to Ocren’s apartment. With a deep breath, he stopped at the landing outside his living room window and squeezed the lemon so the juice trickled through his fingers.
Ocren was there. His green eyes bore into Derek, his dark skin was duller than he’d ever seen it, and the little ridges the Pacurians had where humans had eyebrows stood out like horns. They were similar to humans—lips, nose, the shape of their eyes, everything was the same. But they were bigger, and they had those little horns almost as lizards did. Ocren had one on each cheekbone too—most of the others didn’t.
And the eye color was wrong. Pacurians had different eye colors, as humans had, but they were more intense. And at times they glowed.
Ocren’s glowed a vivid green.
Derek held up a lemon, waiting for Ocren to laugh at him—he didn’t.
Seconds went by and neither of them moved. Derek’s heart banged hard in his chest, but he had no idea what he’d do now.
With the glass between them, they continued to stare at each other. The November chill was creeping into Derek’s core.
An eternity went by, and Ocren continued to stare at him. Slowly, he reached for the sash lift and pushed the window up.
The growly tone made him shiver more. “Stay out of my apartment, fucker.”
Ocren raised his lips like an aggressive dog, showing off piranha teeth identical to those he’d seen at the bar. What the hell was wrong with the world? Had they suddenly been invaded by crazed aliens? Not suddenly—they’d been invading since long before Derek was born, and he’d always known they were far more dangerous than they’d let on, hadn’t he?
Derek Herman is living a nightmare. Long before he was born, the planet was taken over by a mind-controlling alien race, and everyone is affected except for him. Derek does his best not to draw attention to himself, but it’s not going well.
Ocren Starburst is obsessed with his human neighbor. Every time he sees Derek, he wants nothing more than to grab him, hold him, and keep him forever. And four years of chasing him up the stairs in their apartment building has resulted in Derek refusing to even acknowledge his existence. That is, until Derek accuses Ocren of breaking into his apartment.
Derek found a button on his living room floor, the same kind of button Ocren wears on his police uniform. And while Ocren hasn’t broken in, he knows the button means someone has. Ocren’s race has kept their shape-shifting abilities secret for years, but now his other form wants out to slaughter everyone that dares to get too close to Derek. And staying in control proves hard when threats toward Derek increase.
Will they be able to keep Derek safe without Ocren losing control of his dragon self?
Gay Paranormal Romance: 28,195 words
According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.
Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.
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