But the sequel is done, and right now it's stewing. In a month or so I'll go back through it and clean up, all of that.
For now, you get a rough chapter. Part of the reason I struggled with this one was figuring out who/what was missing. Diamond, as it turned out. But this is from Ken's first chapter, so you don't get to see my cool special guest yet. You do get Ken being Ken, which is always fun, although I might be biased.
Hope peeps enjoy, and have a lovely weekend when you get there ^__^
Ken spat out blood, wiped his bloody knuckles on his jeans as he climbed to his feet. "Come here, Nev."
Nev growled and slammed his tail into the last assailant, sending him crashing into the far wall of the warehouse, then prowled over to him and gently butted his head against Ken's thigh.
"Good dragon," Ken said softly. He looked over the Syndicate thugs that had tried to jump them in the warehouse Amr was having converted to a nursery. It was a long way from ready for the mothers, eggs, and kits that needed it, but they were getting there.
Or would be, if every other week didn't bring a new set of Syndicate goons. And they were all just waiting for the day the clans started showing up again. That was going to be a fucking party.
Damn it, he'd just wanted to go check on the nursery before he went to grab food.
Now he was going to be late getting back with the food, everybody else would be there so now he'd have to get lots of extra, and he'd lost yet another chance to spend some time alone with Amr.
He fished his phone out and hit a speed dial key. "Heather, clean up at the nursery. Um—" He looked around, swiftly counting. "Ten. No dragons. I'm fine, I'm fine, just send the team. Thanks." He stuffed the phone back in his pocket and sighed as he got a good look at his clothes.
So much for looking nice and having dinner ready when Amr got home. Whatever. He was a clan reject trying to play at being Steward for a Mordred Prince. If everyone laughed and sneered behind his back, well, who could fucking blame them?
Nev gave a low, soft growl and head-butted him again, licked his hand when Ken reached to pet him. "Who needs the rest of them, right? I've got you." That just got him another growl, and Nev didn't need human words for Ken to know you're not fooling anyone when he heard it.
So he appeared to have a hardcore crush on Prince Amr, sue him. A few hot kisses from said prince, seemed like he was justified.
Except then the rest of Clan Mordred had shown up, and the Syndicates kept popping in to be assholes, and between working and fighting, eating and sleeping, Amr treated him more like a glorified lackey than someone he'd said he wanted as his lover.
Maybe he'd realized he could do better once his clan showed up to remind him. As rejections went, it was probably the quietest and kindest he'd ever gotten. He was still part of the clan and Steward, exactly as Amr had promised. The rest didn't fucking matter.
Which was why he'd wanted to look nice and have dinner waiting. He was a fucking idiot. But it didn't matter because thanks to fuckheads one through ten all his efforts were in vain.
He sat down on the curb and didn't mind at all when Nev laid down with his head in Ken's lap.
Heather and her team showed up a few minutes later. She was Amr's cousin on his mother's side, and looked so much like him that for a moment Ken's mind had gone to daughter and freaked the fuck out before he'd realized he was a fucking dumbass and she must be a sister or something.
She was short, beautiful, and an artist with the Beretta at her hip. If Ken wasn't already gone on Amr, he probably would have tried to flirt with her. Whistling, she said, "Quite the mess you made."
"Blame them, I just wanted to see how far they got on the walls today," Ken said with a sigh. "Painting was supposed to start tomorrow, damn it."
Heather snorted. "I think you attract trouble, one way or another. Get on, then, we'll take care of all this and try to keep the contractors from killing you. No promises, though, I can only try."
"Hahaha," Ken replied, flipping her off as he stood and limped over to his car. He popped the trunk and pulled out a couple of rags in his emergency kit, used them to clean up the worst of the blood. Thankfully the worst of his wounds was just where a bullet had clipped his arm. Other than that, a cut to the inside of his cheek, bloody knuckles, and it felt like maybe his side had gotten sliced a bit at some point.
All in all, not the worst he'd condition he'd ever been in coming out of a fight.
Cleaned up sufficiently to drive, he checked his gun, holstered it, and slammed the trunk shut before sliding behind the wheel. He glanced again at the bloodstains on the shirt, a stupid button down thing he'd seen while out running errands. Clearly the powers that be were trying to tell him his fashion sense was lacking.
"Whatever," he muttered. Nev settled into the passenger seat and Ken started the car, pulled out onto the empty road and drove off back to the heart of the city and the skyscraper where Amr's penthouse and main offices were located. Technically Ken had his own place, in the rooms he'd taken over from his friend Blaze, but Amr preferred to have him close to hand at all times. Ken kept the apartment, anyway, partly on the chance Blaze ever returned for some reason and needed a place to crash.
And, when he was despondent enough to admit to himself, for the day when Amr inevitably asked him to leave. He'd stupidly started to think maybe Amr really would be different, in a way that involved a whole hell of a lot more of those kisses Amr had given him a month ago when he'd made Ken a member of Clan Mordred and his Steward. Then again, he'd also thought Amr's insistence that he join Mordred might just fucking mean the rest of Mordred would accept him. But on the rare occasion Ken was with them and Amr wasn't around… well, it was a good thing he was used to frosty receptions. Heather was pretty cool to him, but even she probably wouldn't miss him when he left.
Whatever. He'd prove himself as Steward and then they'd all have to shut up and chill out. And eventually his stupid fucking crush on Amr that'd he'd never wanted anyway would go away and all would be right with the world.
He turned into the parking garage and pulled into his spot, then leaned back in his seat and sighed. Now the adrenaline had run its course all he wanted was a goddamn nap, maybe a snack—
Son of a bitch! He'd forgotten the food. Fuck it, they were just going to have to order in again.
"Come on, lizard." He nudged Nev awake, smiling at the sleepy, but happy rumble that washed over him. Nev climbed out of the car and padded around it to wait for him, led the way into the elevator and flopped down over practically the whole floor as they rode up to the penthouse level.
Voices washed over him as the elevator opened, Amr's like the soothing heat of a hot shower, the rest like buckets of ice water. He stepped off the elevator, padded quietly across the tile entryway and into the living room, which proved to be empty. Maybe they'd all be so busy talking in the kitchen he could slip by and get cleaned up before facing them.
He'd just made it to the hallway when there was a stutter in the conversation, like they'd all seen him at once and faltered for a split second. Ken kept going, down the hall to the room he'd claimed as his own. If he kept hoping he might land in Amr's bed some night, well, whatever, that'd go away with time.
Nev flopped down at the foot of the bed and promptly dropped off to sleep. Lazy lizard. Ken began to unbutton his shirt, but stopped as his bedroom door opened and the space was filled by Amr. Beautiful as ever in his stupid fancy suit, dark hair brushed and tidy, the smell of sandalwood and dragon coiled around him. He looked like a prince, like the shiny new leader of a clan that had just gone from sad exiles to almost equal in power to Clan Pendragon.
And if Ken didn't prove himself fast, it wouldn't be long before Amr realized he could do so much better than some immature jackass that nobody wanted. Nobody but the dragon who'd had no choice but to bond with him back in the days they'd been kids stuck in the pits, forced to fight for their lives every single fucking day.
"What?" Ken asked, finishing the buttons on his shirt and shrugging it out of it. He tossed it toward the trashcan in the corner of the room, stifling a sigh that it hadn't even lasted twenty-four fucking hours.
Amr moved further into the room, frown deepening as he took in the cut on Ken's side, the gash on his arm. "What happened?"
"I went to check on the nursery, some goons jumped me. I think they were from the Fisher Syndicate but I didn't get a good look. Heather's team is cleaning up the aftermath."
"You should have called for help."
Ken snorted and pushed off his jeans and boxers, through them toward the hamper. "Believe me, I would have loved to, but it all happened fast. The nursery is a bit banged up, it'll set us back a few days, but nothing worse than that. Heather will bring us what we need and we can go from there dealing with Fisher."
Anger flickered across Amr's face, and he closed the space between them to grab Ken's arm. "I don't give a damn about the nursery, you thickheaded idiot. Are you all right?"
"Please, it's all scratches," Ken said, yanking his arm free. "Go back to your precious meeting. I forgot to grab us dinner, though, sorry."
"It's fine," Amr said quietly. "Is something wrong? You've seemed more on edge than is typical for you lately."
He wanted Amr to kiss him again. To want him again. But saying that would just prove how pathetic he was. "Just tired and sick of people showing up to start shit. I'm predisposed toward violence, but even I have a limit. And we're still just getting warmed up, let's face it. None of these attacks have been anything but putting out feelers."
"Mm," Amr agreed. "There's more than that, but I'm already intimately familiar with how unwise it is to push you too far." He lightly touched fingers to his own jaw, where Ken had punched him several weeks ago after Amr had mocked him for not being Cross. For not being wanted by Cross.
"A headache," Ken conceded, because that was true enough. "I've had it all week but I don't know why and nothing shakes it. Maybe all this incessant talking you and your evil Mordred club do day in, day you."
Amr smirked. "Our evil Mordred club, you mean."
Ken scoffed, refusing to smile. His being Mordred was tenuous as fuck, but for as long as it lasted, Ken would enjoy the thrill of belonging somewhere. "Oh, I might be Mordred, but I don't think I'm in the inner circle of evil quite yet. You gonna let me shower or keep me standing here naked all damn night?" He sucked in a sharp breath at the look that flickered across Amr's face. He hadn't meant it that way, but if Amr was going to—
Disappointment crashed through him as Amr stepped back. "Get clean, and then come to the kitchen so I can patch you up properly since you can't wrap a bandage worth a damn."
"I resent that," Ken muttered, but grabbed his towel from where he'd left it on the floor and strode off into the bathroom.
A glance in the mirror made him wonder why Amr had wanted him for even a second. He looked like shit, bruised and cut everywhere, blood in his hair, a smear on his cheek he'd somehow missed, mouth swollen and still bloody where that last jackass had gotten in a hit…
"Whatever," he muttered, and dropped the towel on the counter before climbing into the shower and turning on the water. He swore at the initial chill, but it was good for waking him up a bit before it turned to blissfully hot. It hurt like a son of a bitch on his wounds, but he'd dealt with a hell of a lot worse.
Clean again, he climbed out and headed back into the bedroom where he pulled on boxers, jeans, socks, and a soft gray Henley. He combed his fingers through his hair, called it good enough, and gave Nev a playful nudge on his way out.