I glanced at the clock on my iHome again as I flipped the oval pendant in my hand, more than ready to get started with the fun. Senior year was going to be a stellar, stellar time, especially because I had worked it where first choice of the fresh meat coming in to collar was mine. I thumbed at the pendant that had my family’s crest on it, all the swirls, and loops, framing our last name in a regal way that would lead people to believe we were refined since it was so elegant with its classic lettering and clean design. But it had a twist, two emblem D’s, to signify me and not just the family, smiling as I thought of the neck it would soon adorn. I had a good feeling about this pick. I really did.
Of course, there were extras in my pocket as anyone I’d already claimed for my crest who was ranked high enough to pick someone coming in as one of their underlings would also fall under my purview. That was how a caste system worked after all. If one of the offshoots of my crest extended their branch, then I simply stretched my power and network. Which ended up how I never did my own laundry, shopped, ran errands… Or had to worry about sex.
Granted, with the way I looked, I doubted I’d have any trouble getting some whenever I wanted, but it was so much more fun to have them obedient, not whine about this or that or expect flowers while demanding exclusive attention. What a bore that would be and a joke at a remote college with nothing to do but learn and learn things not in school-assigned books.
Moaning from the corner of the room distracted me. “Oh right,” I muttered, sticking the pendant in my shirt pocket. I grabbed the controller for the toy in Aaryn’s ass and walked over there. It was impossible to do anything but smile as he humped air, his hands restrained overhead, as he made all kinds of noises around the ball gag. I reached down and teased the cock ring keeping him from coming. “How much do you want me to take it off?”
He turned his head and stared at me with tears in his eyes, a few falling down his cheeks. They weren’t from pain. He loved this, no matter how he denied it or pretended to fight me. Hell, he was in his current predicament because he’d eaten all my chocolate-covered macadamia nuts that I’d brought back from my last shoot, knowing full well he’d get punished for it. Aaryn did things like that all the time just for the punishment.
He wasn’t fooling anyone but himself with his pleas and cries of stop and no I don’t want to. Right, because someone who doesn’t want this kind of treatment stretches himself out first to get to the good stuff while actively finding ways to misbehave.
“I’m really pissed with you this time, Aaryn,” I warned him. “I was looking forward to those and they’re not easy to get. Next time you want this, misbehave another way because I’m giving you this fun, but you’re also going to get some really shit assignments for a while and I might put the belt on you.” His eyes went wide and then he really started crying so I knew I’d made my point.
The “belt” was this prototype invention one of our resident geeks had come up with. It was basically like a virtual chastity belt. It mapped out a person’s body and in a way more complicated than a fitness tracker, recorded data from everything to calorie intake to whether a person jacked off or had sex. Which meant Aaryn couldn’t go to anyone else when I cut him off.
And I was going to. The only reason he was getting any now was I didn’t want to go to the selection proceedings all wound up and on edge because of what I might be claiming. Just thinking of it got me so excited that I forgot the game, took off the cock ring, and pulled out the toy before unzipping my pants and screwing Aaryn three times in a row until I was pretty well spent.
“Are you done now?” Diego, my sort of best friend, but actually rival, drawled. I glanced over as I released Aaryn and gently set him on the floor to recover so he could get himself cleaned up later. “I mean, dayumn, Doyle. Is there any of his ass left?”
“I deserved it,” Aaryn groaned, still twitching. “I was bad. Who needs to walk?”
I smirked, knowing I went overboard but he’d be just fine. It wasn’t like we didn’t all heal faster than humans. “Did you need something besides being a perv who watches, Diego?”
“Yeah, I thought I’d check if you wanted to go together since you’ve got first pick and I’ve got second. I’m gonna bite a cow first, but you could wait outside the pen and—”
“You have to stop calling them that,” I growled as I zipped up and tossed the washcloth back towards the bathroom. “They’re humans, not cows. What are you going to do when we’re out in the real world and you slip and call one of them a cow? Pray they think you’re calling them fat and they smack you instead of realizing you snack on humans and stake you?” I shook my head when he simply shrugged. “Besides, I have to see them when I go out on shoots and I have your voice in my head that they’re just cows.”
“That’s funny. You woves me enough to listen to me,” he cooed as he wiggled his ringed fingers, showing off his wealth with gaudy shit I wouldn’t be caught dead in.
I narrowed my eyes, not a fan of being mocked. “How’s Jericho been working out for you, Diego? Your math grades improving? He could easily be recalled and put on a different service for me.”
He instantly lost his mirth. “Dude, your math grade is awesome. You’re a genius. You’d have the top slot in our class if you ever applied yourself or studied. You didn’t even need Jericho to…” He trailed off and blinked at me. “Jesus, you are a sly bastard. You picked up Jericho to your crest just so you had the math savant under your thumb to hold over anyone who needed help.”
“That is the point of all of this.” I pointed to the necklace on Aaryn as I ground my teeth. “It’s not just to torture them like you prefer. We’re supposed to be making alliances, teaching them how to play on our behalf.”
“Really?” He raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms over his chest, watching me closely from where he sat on the arm of my sofa. “And what exactly are you teaching Aaryn to do? What will his role be in your crest?”
“Wouldn’t you just like to know?” I chuckled, answering before Aaryn blurted it out. For all of the guy’s strengths, keeping his mouth shut was something we were still working on. I glanced over at him and he simply blinked up at me innocently and I realized he knew that time he shouldn’t have said anything. “Good boy, Aaryn. No belt. Only shit tasks.” I glanced at Diego then. “Stop calling humans cows for a week and I’ll let you play with Aaryn.”
Aaryn’s eyes went wide as he crawled over to me, leaning his forehead down to my bare feet. “No, please, Doyle. Please don’t just pass me off to someone. I’ve heard stories about what Diego likes. My body can’t take that. He’s too rough for someone so big. I’m too little and tight!”
And on and on he went, begging and rambling… Enticing Diego to want the deal even more. Which was exactly Aaryn’s role in my crest. He would love every second of what Diego would do, but he didn’t want to, and he fought his desires which made him so much fun to play with. And so easy to ignore when not play time, thus, able to collect information because people didn’t pay him any attention.
That was how I was able to get some asshole kicked out last year and the people under him divided between us. Aaryn was the ultimate spy lover and tease.
“Deal,” Diego agreed, licking his fangs that had popped out. “I need to feed off a human. I’ll see you at the selection.”
“Later.” We still had a half hour so I opted for a shower instead of just freshening up. I glanced down at Aaryn. “Nicely played. You’re learning well.”
He blinked up at me and then ducked his head. “You are going to use me for more than my ass and mouth, right, Doyle? I really saw my life going somewhere when I came to school, not being whored around.”
I squatted down and cupped his cheek, staring into his eyes. “It’s your own fault, Aaryn. You’re so far in denial as to what you like and want, that it makes it the best thing about you. Suck it up that you like cock in your ass and you can’t survive without kink and figure out what else you have to offer. Don’t put this on me that I’m the bad guy. This was all you showed me you could do. If you’ve got another useful talent, something you want to do for the crest I’m building instead, then get to it and stop playing games for punishment.”
“Okay.” He closed his eyes and let his head sink to his chest when I let go. I hated to be so mean, but he was going to be a junior. It was time to grow up or his fears were right and that would be his position in my crest.
I quickly showered and changed, wanting to make an impression since I was picking first and leading the show this year. After flipping through a few options, I selected my take-homes from the photo shoot I’d done in Milan a few months ago. Perk of being a model for a high-profile designer. Personally I kind of knew how Aaryn felt, using my body for my position… Though not quite like he did.
As Diego had said, I was smart, and I would actually have preferred to have gotten the chance to build a crest off of that but my father wouldn’t hear of it. I’d never forget that fight for the rest of my days and the hatred that followed.
“You cannot be serious? You want to try for the top spot academically? That’s your plan to build a crest?” he balked, disdain dripping off his words as he looked me over. It was always creepy to see the same eyes I had stare me down with such contempt and lack of love as if I was a car to work and not his child. “Look, Doyle, you’re not stupid, there’s no denying that.”
“There wasn’t until he came up with the idea his grades was his best play,” my mother muttered, rolling her eyes. I shot her a nasty look. Yeah, hers had been to lie on her back, spread her legs, and get knocked up with me so she didn’t really get to judge people’s plans on how to get ahead in my book.
“That’s not helpful,” Father snapped, throwing his wineglass at her. “And you wonder why he doesn’t want to tell us shit? Judgy bitch.” Oh and of course they had a great relationship of fighting, fucking, and using their powers on each other. So healthy. “Doyle, grades are fickle. Someone could come in and blow the curve. A teacher could not like you and screw with you, extort you because you need that spot. Only the top of each faction gets to select others to be in their crest.”
“I know, I know because only the strongest will survive so to protect others and paranormals overall, we cannot be split into species, but crests where the best of everything bring others under their protection and designations to ensure each generation thrive and the continuation of us as a society.” My father nodded as if by repeating what I’d heard all my life I was back on track and turned his focus to his tablet again. “I simply want to be the head of the academic faction. I’m the top of my class. I can keep it if you—”
My mother stormed over to me and grabbed my arm, shaking me. “You want to pass up becoming a model to be a bookworm? Are you insane? What? You can keep that top spot if we don’t pull you out of school now and again for photo shoots, right? Poor, poor, Doyle. You’ll get to travel, have your picture plastered all over the place, and when it’s time, have your pick of female elves dying to be your wife and provide you with heirs for your crest.”
“I didn’t sink several million dollars into a designer for you to become some fucking banking crest no one truly respects.”
“You’ve more than made that money back,” I countered, knowing how the brand was doing. “You’ve at least doubled your investment of providing the startup money so don’t act like this was all some master plan to set up my crest as your son. You wanted to model for them so you backed the designer but you weren’t the right fit for the look of the clothes. So you’re using the next best thing—me. To act like it was really all for me, and what a great father you are to save face.”
I felt the pain on my cheek before I’d even seen him move. He was towering over me with such rage in his eyes that I was actually scared. “You will learn your place, Doyle McCready, because you are a McCready. You will go and do this and you will do it well or so help me you won’t have to worry about being stuck in someone’s faction instead of having your own because if you get to the end of this year and are at the selection process as a candidate and not picking people, I will end you myself.”
I nodded and backed away, shaking and shaken down to my core.
“Why did you hit his face? He’s about to have his first shoot,” my mother complained, slapping his cheek and pulling him away from me. It wasn’t because she was being nice or protective of me. Oh no, I knew better. She was protecting her investment because if Father ever kicked her to the curb, done with her baggage and issues, she believed I would take care of her.
“It will heal. If he fucks this up, I’ll do a lot more than that.”
“Maybe we should have gotten him a coach or some lessons before you demand he ace this or you rip his throat out? He’s not going to know what to do. You’re setting him up to fail.”
“If he can’t do it without help and training, off his own natural talent and abilities as an elf, then he’s not fit to be at the top and I don’t want him as our son or to have my name.”
I not only hated them both for putting me through all their crap they did to each other and the crazy it brought into the house, not caring enough about me to put it aside and be real parents, but after that, I hated them for seeing me as nothing but a pawn. It was how I came to realize that all there was in life were pawns and the people who moved them around and if I was going to survive and get the fuck out of that house and family in one piece I needed to be the latter.
Which reminded me, I had to check on how things were going with what I was working on to make that happen. I shot off a quick message to Tucker, having once again patted myself on the back that he was one of the best acquisitions I’d made thus far. While others like Diego were so busy screwing around and basically building a harem or a crest to include a house full of toys that would essentially lead nowhere or a serving staff when he inherited his dad’s company, I was making my own path.
As I headed out to the selection meeting, I nodded to those I passed heading home to see their families now that school was over for the year.
The way the school set up the selection—our paranormal caste/crest society really—was the day after finals, once all the grades and applicable influences could be tallied up, the proceedings happened. The top from each faction; academic—split into science and humanities—sports, art, leadership, ingenuity, philanthropy, and personage, of each year—incoming freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors—would pick from the freshmen or anyone dropped from their previously assigned crests for whatever reason.
Though, if someone got kicked out of school or like a guy died once when I was a freshman, leaving people needing to be reassigned, normally happens in a special selection.
Logically it made sense the seniors or most experienced picked first, then the juniors, and so on. Especially when most freshman were too clueless as to the system—their points coming in from their high school rank—and picked their best friend or something lame so they weren’t alone. I was going to select first because my modeling was going so well and it painted our very exclusive, privately accredited college in such a wondrous light that it bumped me up the point scale. So my father had been right.
That didn’t mean the way he went about all of this was and I wasn’t going to use what I learned and came out of school with to ruin him instead of fall in line under his crest as he assumed and would demand from me. Fat fucking chance on that. My crest might have the McCready base in it, but I was far from willing to associate with them the second after I graduated.
Which was why I needed to make my picks count this year. I had not only mine, but with my help, Jericho had become the top academic in the soon-to-be senior class and Dexter was the top athlete of the upcoming juniors. So those picks we’d confer on as well. I know neither of them wanted to be separated off into their own crests and break off from mine as sometimes people did when they reached their own number one spot if they could figure out a way to be let go from their current crest.
I’d simply promised them freedom if they’d help me, and we worked together to get the best picks we all needed. Like for Dexter, I’d used my modeling to meet up with some of the best trainers and pro soccer players to help him get to where he was. Jericho, I’d forked over the money to send him to every extra prestigious seminar and whatnot that would aid his points in the end, and all he wanted was to be allowed to continue schooling and do research one day.
Fine by me. Never hurt to have a math and science genius in the back pocket. A soccer pro too.
I’d been researching the bios of the incoming freshman, my crest’s computer nerd and information guru, Kelby, hooking me up with those. There was some good talent I was excited about and I’d laid eyes on most of them, given the high school was adjacent to our college, though pretty far away on the grounds. Paranormals didn’t have all that many schools set up, so once someone was enrolled in one or the other, they tended to go from that grammar school to the high school it associated with to the college.
It kept the crests easy to work with, grades and information at hand for teachers, and less questions asked by the outside world.
So that was why it was so easy to round up all the high school seniors right after exams, because they were at the boarding school on the secluded property, and get them over to the affiliated college for selection into their crests beyond their family’s now that they were of age. The one major drawback was the fact that paranormal schools were all split by sex. The closest girls’ college was four hours away.
Yes, it was planned that way. Kept everyone focused on work and building the future of our people, not frivolous things like flirting, playing around, and socializing. Still, some of that occurred when the monthly mixers happened at one estate in between the schools or another and that was how my parents had hooked up, real classy like in someone’s pool house probably.
I tended to skip those parties, seeing enough paranormal girls on break when away from school for my photo shoots and not wanting much to do with them until I was free from college and could date women. I wasn’t going to get trapped like my father was, and until then, I had more than enough holes to fuck at school and mouths to blow me. Willing ones that couldn’t get pregnant. And really, from behind, an ass was an ass, so what did I care? I just needed to keep focused and not let my boys get too full and distract me with hormones.
Which was why I’d do human girls when I traveled. We couldn’t get them pregnant. It was some kind of biology thing, like their genetic makeup just didn’t accept ours to make a baby or something. Whatever, worked for me.
“Crap, I forgot the presents,” I groaned as I reached the gym and saw my crest waiting for me by the heavy wooden doors. “My bad. We’ll select our new additions and go back to my room to celebrate and I’ll hand out gifts.”
“I love that you go away on a shoot and we all get gifts,” Kelby chuckled, handing me several folders. “I broke everything down as you said after the last round of your guys’ discussions. Green is first choice. Yellow is backups in case everyone’s picked we want. And red is last resort. They’re all by priority.”
“You’re the best, Kelby,” I praised, rubbing his head. “And you guys get presents because a crest is a family. You take care of my shit while I’m gone and move us forward. I might be the name and the boss, but we all play our roles and commitment to our crest more than slaving away on orders.”
“And in that regard, everything went through at midnight with the sale as planned,” Tucker informed me quietly. “My father says everything is in order and he was more than happy to help us out. Apparently you made quite an impression on him approaching him as you did. He’s simply grateful that you’re allowing me to continue on to law school and work at his firm.”
I shrugged. “I need a lawyer. The crest does. I don’t need to monopolize one and be a dick about it, try and railroad someone from a prestigious family. Tell your dad he rocks and I was told those Lakers tickets will be there soon as a thanks.” Tucker nodded and I glanced at Dexter and Jericho. “You guys ready to make your picks?”
“Yeah, sure,” Dexter drawled, rolling his eyes. “Just stick your hand up my ass and move my mouth when it’s time. I barely paid attention the last planning meeting. I was wiped from the doubleheader.”
We all had a laugh at that and headed inside. Kelby was filling me in on some last-minute details when I almost tripped over my feet as I laid eyes on someone so pretty standing in the back of the group across the way. He raised his head, and piercing natural forest-green eyes like I’d never seen before met mine. They went wide as he realized someone was actually looking directly at him, and he hid behind his longer, disheveled hair.
Which again, was something I really had never seen. I’d seen models wear contacts to screw with their eye color, graphic artists change images and whatnot, but this guy’s hair was… Indescribable. It wasn’t silver—no, it was. Not gray, silver, like shined, caught the light, sparkly silver, but he also had white highlights and black lowlights.
And no roots. It was natural. Now, I was hot as an elf. It was one of the kinda rules that came with my species. Chiseled jaw, jet black or sunshine hair, bright blue eyes, high cheekbones, flawless skin—the textbook definition of beauty. But looking at him it was like something wild, unique, and undiscovered standing in a dancer’s pose even as I could tell he was awkward.
Apparently I was so drawn to him that the next thing I knew I was in front of him, lifting his chin to get a better look at him, having pushed through the crowd without even paying attention. There were whispers all around us, lots of people from the high school knowing who I was.
“Who do we have here and what are you useful for?” I murmured, licking my lips when his mouth parted open slightly, his cheeks flushing.
“K-Kisten Park and-and I’m n-not sure what y-you mean.” His eyes darted around but he didn’t pull away from me.
Interesting. “You know what you’re here for today. You know why I’m asking before the selection begins.”
“Selection? Selection for what?” he hissed as his pupils dilated and more. Interesting. Shifter?
“Kisten Park,” Kelby muttered and then grunted. “He’s a red, Doyle. Toss him back and move on.”
“Why?” I demanded harsher than I meant to. I didn’t like showing emotion or when I wanted something, but I didn’t like the idea of this specimen not being of use to me and someone I could justify adding to my crest.
“He’s an Abyssinian shifter who’s—”
“What kind is that?” I glanced over my shoulder to meet Kelby’s amused expression.
“He’s a friggin’ house cat. He’s bottom-rung food chain—”
My gaze snapped to Kisten when he hissed and yowled. “Well, well, he’s got spirit at least. What else?”
“What is going on? Why do you have my bio like you’re looking at my sticker price?” Kisten demanded, trying to pull away from my hand, looking as if he was debating whether to bite me.
“Darling, that’s exactly what I’m doing,” I warned, narrowing my eyes at him as I tightened my hold on him. “You can be feisty with others, but I expect obedience from those in my crest.”
“Your crest?” he breathed, his eyes bugging out.
“Doyle, he might not know what’s going on,” Kelby warned quietly. “He’s a bastard. Says here he’s pretty much lived at schools all his life. If the other kids found out, you know how that can get someone blackballed from cliques still even today.” I pondered that a moment. Our society was seriously screwed up at times.
It gave me an idea though. I maneuvered Kisten away from everyone else, shaking my head when the others started to follow us. “I know I’m first, we’ll be back. Check out the others.”
“Where are we going? I was told to stay here,” Kisten bitched, struggling against me. I ignored what he was saying and pretty easily got him in the equipment room given his thin five-four frame was nothing compared to my toned six-three size.
“Do the others in your class know you’re a bastard?” I demanded when we were alone. He didn’t say anything at first. “Do they all exclude you? Did your father dump you off here and you really don’t know what’s going to happen after you graduate but you know you’re not welcome there?” Slowly he nodded. “What if you could change that? No longer be a part of that family, that family crest and join a new crest?”
“The necklaces?” he breathed, blinking up at me. “You want to give me a collar?”
Oh, someone likes the idea of that. “Maybe. Depends on if you’re useful, but that’s what today is.”
His eyes suddenly darkened. “My mother got one of those and became my father’s mistress, leverage over his wife to make her behave and keeping my mother in line by allowing me to be educated here. I don’t—”
“Those who aren’t giving out crests are being divided up, Kisten. We know all the people who are giving out crests. You’re not, so someone is going to get you.” Fear filled his eyes and I actually felt bad for the guy. “I’m nice to my crest. We’re a family—kind of a family of those who don’t fit in or don’t want to play by the rules or expectations trying to be forced on us.” His shoulders relaxed somewhat but I wasn’t done yet. “But I do like to play.”
“I’m straight,” he whimpered.
“So am I,” I chuckled, moving my hands to either side of him and leaning in so we were nose to nose, taking in his startled but receptive reaction. “But do you see any girls around here? I don’t do celibate and I’m under too much pressure not to let it out. And oh do I love to let it out.”