The Ruby Tooth is a short paranormal Christmas story I wrote for JMS Books’ in-house call Naughty or Nice. We were to pick one or the other, and I picked Nice. I was gonna pick Naughty, but then I changed my mind LOL
Ilya is a nice person, so nice that when he comes to The Ruby Tooth, a nightclub, the veritas at the door takes one look at his soul and shows him to the left side of the club.
Good people go to the left and bad to the right.
Ulric, on the other hand, thinks he is nice, but every time he visits The Ruby Tooth, he’s shown to the right. And once Ilya sneaks into the right side to meet up with his friend, Ulric realise that Ilya is playing in a completely different league of nice and that Ulric probably is where he belongs.
There is only one problem. Ilya is his mate, and how can a man like Ulric be mated to someone like Ilya?
I loved writing this one!
Ilya Lewis is gonna kill his best friend Vera. She not only persuaded him off his couch and into the creepiest nightclub in the city, she also didn’t show. When Ilya learns the bar is split into two halves, and he’s been let into the wrong side, it doesn’t make things any better. Once the doorman determines which half to let you into, he won’t let you into the other.
Ulric Moon hates the Ruby Tooth. But as a bounty hunter, he must go where the trails lead him, and tonight it’s landed him in the worst nightclub in the universe. All he wants is to catch the vampire he’s hunting, but despite trying to convince the veritas doorman examining his soul that he needs to be let into the good side of the club, he’s shown to the bad. As if that wasn’t enough, his destined mate somehow manages to sneak into the bad side where he doesn’t belong. Ilya finds a way to the other side of the bar, but one look at the patrons there has him regretting ever leaving his apartment. When he tries to leave, a scary-looking man who does nothing but growl follows him.
Ulric knows he’s freaking Ilya out, but Ilya has inadvertently caught the interest of the vampire Ulric is hunting, and he has to protect him. How will Ulric keep Ilya safe when he doesn’t believe Ulric is a bounty hunter? And how do you tell someone they’re your mate when they don’t believe you’re a werewolf?
Gay Paranormal Romance: 11,834 words
JMS Books :: Amazon :: books2read.com/TheRubyTooth
Ulric Moon cut the line in front of a drunk human woman barely old enough to be out after dark. He hated The Ruby Tooth, for not only did it have the most ridiculous name a nightclub could have, but it was also the only bar where all species under the sky were allowed to mix. Insane.
There were several nightclubs named The Ruby Tooth spread over the country, and they always smelled of disaster. Nothing good ever came of interspecies hook-ups. Especially since most humans believed they were the only species going to nightclubs on this crumbling planet.
If a shifter and a vamp wanted to get their rocks off together, Ulric had no problems with that—though he should have since vampires… But to throw humans in the mix? Begging for trouble was what it was.
He neared the veritas working the door. Creepy creatures. They took one look at your soul and decided if you were good or bad—no gray areas in their world. Ulric did bad things for a good cause; that made him good in his book.
“To the right.” The veritas, a large, heavily tattooed male, gestured for him to go to the right. Bad people were shown to the right. It was the reason the council had approved a mixed clientele. The veritas owning the chain had argued no innocent would be harmed since the patrons would be divided. Good people didn’t kill each other, no matter what species they were—or that was their argument, anyhow.
Ulric didn’t agree. Most murders were accidents.
Not the kind he was trying to put a stop to—those were deliberate, but to believe it couldn’t happen simply because the people mingling had good souls was naive.
“I need to go to the left today. Work purposes.” He hated this place. It didn’t matter in what city he was; he hated The Ruby Tooth.
The man shook his head. “To the right.”
Ulric sighed. There was no getting around a veritas when they’d decided in what direction someone should go.
“Look.” He didn’t want to reveal what he did for a living, but considering who he was talking to… “I’m hunting an evil guy. I can allow that I’m mildly bad at times, but the man I’m looking for is epically bad.”
“Then he went to the right.” The veritas gestured toward the hidden door to the right again.
“Point, but he preys on the pure, so he’ll be hunting on the other side.”
The veritas didn’t speak, he only stared at Ulric with an impassive face.
Fucking waste of time.
He pushed through the door and wrinkled his nose as the scent of shifters, vampires, and magic users washed over him. The bar was so dark a human would have a hard time walking around without bumping into things, but then, there weren’t too many humans here.
When someone called his name, he raised his hand in greeting without checking who it was. There was no one he wanted to speak to anyway.
It was the downside of having a job leading you to your hometown—people recognized you. On the other hand, he planned on sleeping in his own bed tonight, and it had been a couple of weeks since he did, so he was looking forward to it.
If he could find this fucker and end it, he could sleep in his bed for several nights, weeks even, before he needed to take on another job.
He made it to the bar, nodded to the wolf shifter working there, and ordered a whiskey. The poor bastard wore a Santa hat. When he placed the tumbler on the spotless surface, Ulric raised a questioning eyebrow and gave a slight nod at the hat.
“Fuck.” Ulric looked around. The woman next to him—human—he couldn’t pick up any scent of magic, but he assumed she had some or the poor girl wouldn’t survive long on this side of the club—wore a skimpy Mrs. Santa suit. Or it was more like Santa’s dirty little secret than Mrs. Santa, but that was most likely the point. He grimaced and turned back to the bartender.
He shrugged. “Many hours to go and most humans haven’t shown yet. The trouble usually doesn’t start until the humans have had a few drinks.”
Too true. Then the vampires would get hungry, the shifters frisky, and the humans obnoxious. Ulric wanted to go home. He wanted away from all the people, wanted to be in his remote cabin where nothing but the sound of the wind rustling through the trees imposed on the calm.
He pushed away from the bar and went to find a dark corner to observe as the night escalated.
* * * *
Ilya Lewis was gonna kill Vera. First, she’d forced him to come to this creepy place. On dress-up night. Wearing a costume she’d picked. Then she didn’t show.
He’d circled the place three times, but she was nowhere to be seen.
The way the doorman had made them go in one at a time, only to stare at them for several seconds, still had Ilya shuddering. He wanted to complain, needed to tell Vera she’d been wrong about this being a nice club.
It wasn’t nice.
Everything seemed staged. It could have been because everyone was walking around dressed up as Santa or a reindeer, and a couple of women had Christmas tree dresses. No elves.
He grabbed his phone, which wasn’t easy considering he was wearing an elf suit—leggings didn’t have pockets, so he’d put his phone in a passport holder he had around his neck, hidden underneath the moss green tunic.
It rang several times and he was about to hang up when there was a crackling.
“Ilya, if you’re calling to cancel, I’m coming there, and I will be dragging you out by your balls, you hear?”
Ilya blinked. “Vera?”
“There is no one I know here. They said at work they’d all come.” She sighed.
“I’m here, but I can’t find you.”
She was silent for a few seconds. “I can’t see you. It’s really fucking dark in here.”
Ilya tilted his head toward the ceiling—several light fixtures were giving the room a soft but comfortable glow. “It’s light where I am.”
“You’re at The Ruby Tooth, right? You didn’t go somewhere else?”
He sighed. “I’m here, but—”
“I can’t see you.”
“I’m right next to the bar.” He took three steps to the right so he wasn’t lying.
“I’m at the bar. Sitting on a stool with a drink I didn’t ask for.”
In his experience, she never turned down a drink. “Isn’t it good?”
His gaze swept over the bar, there were no stools. It was a large, curved bar with two bartenders behind it, both wearing Santa hats and both smiling and nodding to the club goers.
“There are no stools at this bar.”
Vera went quiet. “There must be two bars then.”
Relieved laughter escaped Ilya. There were two bars—of course there were. “I’ll come find you, stay by the bar.”
“Will do, darling.”
He winced at her dragged-out darling and hung up before putting the phone back in the passport holder and getting it to look good underneath the tunic. He looked like he had a starring role in Lord of the Rings rather than a creature from Santa’s workshop. Vera had found it highly amusing. A fairy suit for the fairy.
He’d stopped being offended a long time ago.
They’d been friends for an eternity. When the mean kids in school had picked on him, Vera had beaten them to a pulp—an exaggeration, but there had been a nosebleed, and from that day on, she’d been feared.
He didn’t know what she saw in him—she mostly complained about how boring he was—but when her world fell apart, which happened to her more often than anyone else he knew, she came to him. She slept on his couch for a few nights, drank way too much booze, and cursed the world. She never cried. He was the one who cried. When his mother had died, when Anthony had left him, when he’d had to put Mr. Snuggles down three months ago… he cried, she cursed, but she held him until he didn’t have any tears left.
And that was what this dreadful night was all about. Other than to go to work, he hadn’t left his cramped apartment since Mr. Snuggles had died. Vera had finally lost her patience and nagged and threatened until he’d agreed to come.
With a sigh, he walked toward the entrance. The creepy doorman had shown him to the left, but maybe there was a room on the other side.
As soon as he neared the door, another doorman stepped out of the shadows.
“Ah… eh… no, I’m looking for my friend.”
The doorman gave him a blank look and gestured toward the bar. A chill slithered down Ilya’s spine. There was something off with the doormen. Maybe they were on drugs.
The doorman gestured in the opposite direction from the bar.
“Thank you.” Ilya pretended to head in the direction of the restroom, but as soon as the doorman focused on someone else, he veered off closer to the bar again. There had to be another room somewhere.
When there was a gap at the bar, he stepped forward and waited until the bartender focused on him.
“What can I get you?”
“I, eh… mineral water, please.”
The man smiled. “Lemon?”
“Please.” He had a nice smile, and Ilya found himself smiling back. “Hey, I’m meeting a friend here, but she’s at the other bar. How do I get there?”
The bartender froze. “You don’t. They divide you at the entrance.”
What the hell? Unease spread in his gut, but he did his best not to let it show. “Yes, I know, but I need to get to her.”
The bartender bit his lip and guilt swamped Ilya. He hated lying.
“They won’t let you in, but the kitchen has doors to both sides. You’re not supposed to go in there, though.”
Ilya nodded. “No, I understand. Thank you.”
The bartender smiled. “So, you’re here all alone?”
Ilya tried not to let his frown show. “No, I’m… My friend is here.”
The bartender’s smile dimmed some. “Oh, of course. I should have known a man like you wouldn’t be alone.”
A man like him? Ilya smiled, he couldn’t think of anything else to do, took his glass of mineral water, and edged away.
The kitchen, how would he get into the kitchen?