Cereus: Rescue, the fourth book in the paranormal m/m Cereus series written by Sean Michael, Julia Talbot and BA Tortuga is available now from Torquere Press!
Even the strongest paranormal creature can need a rescue, as proven by the three stories in Cereus: Rescue. In Free Demons, by Julia Talbot and BA Tortuga, when demon Bel goes to the Cereus resort, he’s fleeing his father, the king of a demon dimension. When his bodyguard of old shows up, Bel thinks Xerxes is there to take him home, but Xerxes wants them to be free to be together.
In Sean Michael’s Spirit Bear, Lightning has been captive for a long time, but the werebear is rescued, and Etu takes him in, teaching him that love knows no boundaries, and that safety can be super-sexy. In Babysitting Job, by BA and Julia, Devon is sent by Cereus owner Jonny to escort vampire Sandro to safety. The two of them fall for each other, but they have to escape Sandro’s stalker in order to be together.
The mountains shone with the late afternoon sun, the crisp fall day a perfect backdrop for the little deck attached to his private cabin. This time of year in this little corner of the earth made Bel smile, it truly did. His skin loved the humidity, his eyes didn’t burn dry every five seconds, and his lips never cracked and bled.
Oh, he was definitely staying here, especially since a resort like Cereus let him keep his regular form without having to hide his horns. And his tail.
Fuck being a prince of the fortieth level of hell. He was totally happy as an upper demon paid not to cause problems.
He grinned. Maybe he ought to order room service.
One bowl of popcorn, a nice rare steak and a bottle of tequila. Yum. Maybe he’d see what was on the menu as far as someone to play with, too. Cereus always had a few happy subby types willing to go for hours at a time.
He stretched out, wiggling his toes. How had he gotten so fucking lucky? Oh, right. He made his own damned luck, thank you. No doubt there were folks looking for him. Thankfully, he had a dragon friend who could do cloaking spells.
Honestly, he could spend ten or twelve eternities here, just hanging out.
The phone rang, and Bel jumped about a mile, his heart pounding. Land lines. So shrill.
“Sir? This is Martin at the front desk. You have a visitor.”
“Really? Animal, mineral or vegetable?”
“I’m fairly sure he’s animal, Sir, although mineral is a distinct possibility.”
“No shit? Does he have a name?” This was a great game.
“Your name, Sir? He says it’s Xerxes, Sir.”
Xerxes. Oh, not fun anymore. Bel grunted. “Tell him I died.”
Xerxes? Here? Son of a motherfucking, flea-ridden, diseased whore!
The huge bastard had been given to him as a youngling. His own personal guard. Big. Dumb. Silent. No wonder Martin wasn’t sure if Xerxes was animal or mineral.
“He’s rather insistent, Sir.”
“Oh, very well. Send him.” Not fair to make the desk clerk deal with the lug.
“Yes, Sir. Right away, Sir.”
God. Just what he needed. Another piece of furniture. And what if his father had sent Xerxes to bring him home?
That would be unfortunate. Also awkward, given that he wasn’t going.
A firm knock sounded.
“Come in.” No one locked their cabins here.
Xerxes walked in, bending to get through the door. With skin like leather and eyes the color of granite, the huge bald man might have made an impression, if Bel hadn’t seen him again and again.
He was like a living statue.
“Was I so easy to find?” Bel asked.
He received a tiny quirk of lips, a half-smile. Damn it.
“So, are you here to drag me back?”
“I’m here for you.”
“What does that mean?” He frowned. That was off script. Xerxes never went off script.
Xerxes stared at him, just quiet and silent.
“You’re back to being a tree. Great.” Bel tugged at his hair, pulling until the curls stood up in agitated tufts.
One eyebrow lifted.
Was that a smile?
Surely not. Xerxes didn’t smile. Bel squinted. “Are you on drugs?”
Five words. Xerxes could go a year without saying so much. So, Bel plowed on. “You’re smiling. You spoke without being ordered to. I think you might be sick.”
Xerxes just stared at him.
“I think I am going to hit you with that lamp.” Bel pointed at a heavy iron lamp base. “‘Kay?”
That eyebrow went up again. Fuck, that was irritating.
Bel picked up the lamp, unplugging it carefully. Then boom, he raised it and rushed, no more monologue-ing.
Like it was nothing, Xerxes caught the lamp, took it from him and set it down on the floor.
“Damn it! What do you want?”
“You.” And just like that, Xerxes leaned back against the wall and turned to stone.
Bel lost it a bit. He had a dramatic streak. Genetic. He banged on the great wall of chest, beating at Xerxes with closed fists. “No. I am not going back there. I am not going with you. Do you understand?”
His bodyguard, his silent, stern friend just stood there, all statuesque and stone-like and all that happened was Bel’s fists bruised.
Sighing, he dropped his arms to his sides. “I think I’ll get a hamburger. Or a steak. You hungry?”
He knew that Xerxes could eat, and it was one of the challenges, staying well fed up here. When he got no reply, he stuck his tongue out.
“I should make you eat chicken livers.”
Did Xerxes wrinkle his nose? That gave him hope.
“Yep,” Bel went on. “I will get you chicken liver mousse.”
He turned to grab the room phone and he swore he heard, “You can’t make me eat it.”
Bel whirled around, staring.
Xerxes didn’t even blink.
He picked up the phone, keeping one eye on Xerxes. “Hey, James. Can you get me the kitchen?”
“Yes, Sir. Right away.”
Oh, lucky him, he’d gotten one of the kitties in person. “Hey. I need steak.”
“Yeah. Enough for, uh, four humans. Fluffy baked potatoes.”
“Butter and bacon?”
He heard, “Sour cream,” from behind him.
Oh, he was going to hurt Xerxes. Except he could barely make a dent.
“Yes, and sour cream on the side. Two big salads. A bottle of pinot noir.” He took a deep breath. “And something huge and decadent for dessert.”
“You got it. You sound stressed.”
“I am. I have unwelcome company.”
“Do I need to get Mik and Van on it?” Mik and Van were Cereus security, and good at it.
“No. No, man.” This was his problem. His Xerxes. His own immovable object. He could put the big doof outside to hang wet bathing suits on.
Oh, he liked that idea. Bathing suits, random wet ski equipment.
“I wonder if I could get a dolly…”
“You know. A two-wheeled cart.” He flapped a hand. “To move the unmovable.”
“Uh. I’ll see if they can do that in maintenance…” came over the line.
Oh, shit, hon. I forgot I was still on the phone. Just the food.”
“You sure? You’re okay?”
“I’m fine. My bodyguard from home showed.” He loved the kitties, so why not be honest?
“Oh? Oh, that means you can stay, right? We’d miss you if you left.”
“Um. Yeah.” Only not. But Bel could lie like a demon. Heh.
“Yes! Food is coming. Soon, Bel.”
“Thanks, hon.” He did love this place. After he hung up, he put on his determined face and turned to Xerxes. “Not going back.”
Xerxes stared at him.
That was a grin. A real, slow-spreading smile. Argh. Clenching his hands into fists, he counted to fifty in his native language.
“I’m going to hurt you, you evil bastard.”
Oh, now, this was too much. “You’re not funny. Or fun. What on earth has gotten into you?”
“I got relieved of duty.”
Bel blinked. Thought about that. Blinked some more. “You mean my father fired you?”
He got another long, silent stare.
Demons weren’t fired. They were banished. Obliterated. So, how did Xerxes manage to get downsized without getting squashed like a bug?
“So, why are you here, then, instead of Aruba or something?”
“You’re here,” Xerxes intoned.
He waved his hands. “But I’m not your job anymore.”
Another stare. Seriously? Bel gave up trying to get Xerxes to tell him anything. “I ordered you food.”
“You’re welcome. You can sit, you know.”
Xerxes moved to the chair, slowly lowered himself into it. God, that was a big man. Like a muscle mountain. One he would climb like Mallory on Everest.
Oh, wouldn’t that be fun?
“Can you get hard, Xerxes?”
“Erect? Getting a boner?” He was just-- Bel knew he was being an ass, but he didn’t know how else to be.
“I have been known to be aroused, yes.”
“By me?” Bel sat, too, curling his legs under him.
“Yes,” Xerxes said. Fascinating. Utterly fascinating.
“Oh.” Bel sat there, trying to figure out his next salvo.
Xerxes watched him, just sat there and stared at him with big gray eyes.
“So, um. You’re on vacation, huh?”
“Do you have a wind-up lever? Is your spring run down? Do I need to switch to demon-basic so you can talk?”
“I have spoken more in the last hour than I have in the last twenty five years.”
Bel felt a grin begin to grow, and he pumped a fist in the air. “A sentence! Go me.”
Xerxes’ lips curled up. That was a smile, a real smile. God, it was beautiful. Bel had never seen such a thing and had never expected to.
Xerxes was here. Right here. Staring at him and smiling.
“It’s a game. We could watch a movie.” What did one do with an ex-bodyguard who Bogarted your vacation?
“I play chess.”
“Not as fun as Twister, I promise.” He waggled his brows.
“I will try.”
Oh. Well, that was surprising.
“Seriously?” Dude. He did have a game set thanks to a white elephant party last week.
“You’ll have to tell me the rules.” Xerxes was a big follower of rules.
Bel often disregarded them.
“You know it.” Bel smiled and got the Twister box from a shelf in the wee sitting room.
When he opened the box and spread out the little plastic sheet with dots on it, Xerxes blinked. Once.
Hey, that was an entire day’s worth of expression on that stolid face.
Just wait until he made Xerxes get naked.
Also in the series: Cereus: Building, Cereus: Opening and Cereus: Training, available at Amazon, All Romance Ebooks, Barnes and Noble, and Torquere Books.
Giveaway: $10 Torquere Press gift certificate
Where to find BA:
http://www.batortuga.com -- website
batortuga.blogspot.com – blog
@batortuga on twitter
Huge thank you to BA for stepping in at the last minute to help me out! If you haven't had the chance to read her yet, you absolutely should!
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