Merry Christmas, everyone! Thank you, Nell, for letting me drop by again (you’re always welcome, my friend!). It’s been an intense year, and I figured we’d close it out with a Nice story 😊
JMS Books had an in-house call for short stories that were either Naughty or Nice. I went with Nice. I’m almost a little shocked about that – not really, but I had this inner monologue where I told myself I ought to pick the Naughty one.
Thing is, I could’ve picked either or and still argued that it fit my story. The Ruby Tooth is a nightclub run by a supernatural species called veritas. By looking at you, they see into your soul and can deem if you’re good or bad.
The nightclub is divided into two – good people go to the left, bad people go to the right. So it doesn’t really matter if you’re naughty or nice, you’re still welcome at The Ruby Tooth. But if you’re shown to the left, you’re not allowed to hang with those who were shown to the right.
It all works out great until Ilya is to meet his best friend Vera at The Ruby Tooth. Ilya can’t find Vera anywhere, and it pisses him off since he didn’t want to go out in the first place. A phone call later, he learns that Vera is there, but at the other bar, and decides to get to her.
Ulric is a werewolf and a bounty hunter, and he’s well aware of how The Ruby Tooth works. He’s always considered himself a good guy but is shown to the right every time he goes there. One run-in with Ilya has him realising that 1. the veritas showing him to the right must’ve been correct in their assessments despite his misgivings, and 2. the universe has made a huge mistake because Ilya is his mate.
And to make matters worse, the vampire he’s at The Ruby Tooth to hunt down sees Ilya and wants to eat him 😆
I had a laugh writing this story. I think every person is more or less corrupted, and while I would claim there are some seriously bad people in the world, most of us probably can’t be easily divided into one or the other, but it was fun to play the what-if game.
Ilya placed his glass on a table by the wall and pushed through the door to the kitchen. His heart was hammering as he took another few steps. What the hell was he doing? He should phone Vera and suggest they call it a night, or head out for pie. He had a sudden craving for apple pie.
“You’re not supposed to be here.” A woman glared at him. She had tattoos everywhere—hieroglyphs. He almost yelped.
“No, I know, and I’m sorry, but a woman is throwing up right in the middle of the dance floor and no one seems to care.”
She frowned then headed for the door. Ilya didn’t wait for her to turn around and tell him to come along, he darted through the kitchen. Someone else called after him, but he rushed through the brightly lit room and pushed open a door.
Stumbling, he was momentarily blinded by the change of light as he proceeded out into a shadowy room. His lungs shrank as his gaze swept over the people there. Most of them were men twice his size, and the women resembled the woman he’d met in the kitchen—tattoos and dramatic clothes.
Dress-up party. He pulled in a sigh of relief, and while he couldn’t say what they were dressed up as, it calmed his soul. There were two lumberjacks by the bar—wild beards, broad shoulders, and plaid shirts. He smiled and nodded toward them. The man behind the bar looked like someone you should avoid, but he wore a Santa hat, and Ilya’s shoulders dropped a fraction.
“Ilya!” Vera jumped to her feet by the table she was seated at, and Ilya might have imagined it, but he believed the lumberjacks growled. Maybe Vera had misunderstood the theme of the night.
In the more lit area of the club, everyone—or close to, at least—had been wearing Christmas costumes. Here Ilya tugged at his tunic, wishing it hid more of his tights-clad thighs.
Nervously, he touched the tip of his ears. They were pointed. Vera had gotten him elf ears and body glue. They looked surprisingly real, but now he wanted them off. This was not the place to have elf ears, he couldn’t say how he knew, but he wished he wore his normal clothes.
Vera called his name again, and several heads turned his way. He hunched his shoulders and hurried over to her table. She was with a dangerous-looking man—of course she was.
Ilya hesitated. His heart beat fast, but not in a wanting-to-get-away kind of way. No, he found himself taking a step in the man’s direction, wanting to be close to him.
He stopped himself before he embarrassed them all. “Hi.”
He waved his hand but regretted it when the man groaned. Vera frowned at the sound but pulled Ilya in for a hug.
There was a growl coming from nearby. Ilya jumped, then bent to search for a dog underneath the table.
“Strange. I could’ve sworn I heard a dog.” He focused on the man and almost jumped again. “Oh, cool contacts.” The man’s eyes were a glowing honey color. Ilya nervously offered his hand. “I’m Ilya.”
The man grunted and grabbed his hand. Ilya never wanted him to stop touching him. Then he became aware of Vera frowning at him and tried to pull back, but the man refused to let go. For a second, Ilya’s heart jumped to his throat. The man wasn’t hurting him, but the hold on his hand was tight.
“Excuse me.” He tried pulling again, and the man let go. Ilya forced himself to take a step back and focus on Vera. “So… erm… what the hell are you doing here?” He kept his hissing low and was somewhat discreet as he gestured around. The man Vera was with saw him, of course. Those honey eyes never left him.
“The goon at the door showed me in here.”
“They were so creepy! When I tried to search for you, they stopped me.”
“Had to lie to the poor woman in the kitchen.” He shook his head regretfully, and the man chuckled at the same time as he buried his face in his hands. Ilya gave Vera a glance. The poor soul looked like he was having a breakdown.
Vera shrugged, so Ilya waved a hand and pretended the man wasn’t there. “Anyway, I was thinking…” He wiggled his eyebrows at her. “Let’s grab some pie!”
Vera groaned. “No. You’re getting wasted, we’re gonna get laid—” The growl sounded again, and Ilya stared at the man. It had sounded as if it came from him, but it couldn’t have. He bent and glanced under the table again—only legs. When he glanced up, the man was studying him.
“See anything you like?”
Ilya jerked. The tone was harsh, more growl than anything else. “Eh… no… I thought I heard a dog.”
“A dog? In a nightclub?”
Heat climbed Ilya’s cheeks. “Health regulations, of course. Didn’t think of that.” He nodded and a mix of a groan and a laugh escaped the man. Ilya looked at Vera again. Pie would be really nice now or to go home, slip on flannel bottoms, and curl up in front of the TV.
“Can we go? Please?”
“But we just got here.” Vera toyed with her glass.
“No. I’ve been here for an hour, if not more.” He didn’t think it had been more than an hour, but he was already exhausted. This many people and having rushed through the kitchen when he wasn’t supposed to be there. It took its toll.
“Pie?” Maybe she’d agree to go to a calmer place. Not that this part of the nightclub was noisy. The music and the chatter had been louder on the other side.
“No. We’re having a drink.”
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
Ofelia Gränd is Swedish, which often shines through in her stories. She likes to write about everyday people ending up in not-so-everyday situations, and hopefully also getting out of them. She writes romance, contemporary, paranormal, Sci-Fi and whatever else catches her fancy.
Her books are written for readers who want to take a break from their everyday life for an hour or two.
When Ofelia manages to tear herself from the screen and sneak away from her husband and children, she likes to take walks in the woods…if she’s lucky she finds her way back home again.
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