Shax, the Demon Prince of Thieves, has reconciled himself to exile. He has a grand time careening around the galaxy as a high-end, intergalactic purloiner of pretties. Everything's going just fine, thank you very much. All right, fine, the anti-gravity cows are a bit problematic and some of his buyers are bad for his health, but he manages until he comes across an injured angel in a psychedelic alien jungle.
He only rescues the wing boy for his golden feathers, but what Shax doesn’t know about angels could fill an intergalactic encyclopedia. Ness, since his full, angelic name is too much to deal with, is shockingly naïve and seems convinced that Shax and Verin have brought him aboard to torture him or perhaps eat him. Little by little, Shax begins to earn his trust in the quest to wheedle a golden feather or two from him until to Shax's dismay, the yearning after pretties becomes a different sort of yearning entirely.
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Publisher: Mischief Corner Books
Heat Level: 2
Romantic Content: 3
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: Ageless/Immortal
Protagonist 2 Age: Ageless/Immortal
Tropes: Criminals & Outlaws, Cultural Differences, Enemies to Lovers
Word Count: 23000
Setting: outer space
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Bullets pinged off the rock beside Shax’s head.
He ducked lower and tapped frantically at his link, hoping it hadn’t taken damage. “Verin! You there, bud?”
A low growl came back through the link. “This better be—fuck! Is that gunfire?”
“Maybe,” Shax conceded as he flattened himself in the dust.
“What in Lucifer’s name did you do now, bonehead?”
“Um, there were pretties…”
Verin’s cussing became too heated and high decibel for him to continue the conversation for a moment. Finally, he stopped the tirade. “Get back here, then! Fast as that damn horse you borrowed can manage!”
“About the horse…”
“Got shot out from under me. I could, ah, use some backup out here, Ver.”
More grumbling came through but this time accompanied by the sounds of engine startup. “You at least get your damn pretties?”READ MORE
Shax grinned despite the dire situation. “Oh, yeah. Show you when we’re off this dirtball.”
Engine noise drowned the next round of grumbling. Thank hells. Verin was coming for him. Not that a little thing like a gunshot was going to kill a prince of hell but damn it, being shot hurt. Maybe some demons got off on the whole pain thing, but he’d rather skip it, thanks.
“There’s nowhere to go, scum!” the local protector of law and order bellowed. “Give up now and we’ll most likely hang you all nice and humane instead of skinning you alive!”
Oh yes, now there’s incentive for you. The shooting had stopped for a moment, so he dared to poke his head up above his rock cover. “How about a third choice?”
“You’re out of choices, boy!”
Shax rolled his eyes at the incredibly witty rejoinder. “How about I go away and you never, ever have to see me again?”
He offered his most charming smile, then dove for the ground, swearing a black streak when bullets zinged around him. Ow. Shit. He pushed his hat back, probing gently at his scalp near his right horn. His fingers came away bloody. “I am never going into any bar that has a piano player, ever again. Cheap, shoddy, hick town. Stupid humans.”
The roar of the Brimstone’s engines briefly muffled the gunfire. Shax thought his partner would come in shooting but Verin often had more precipitous solutions. He simply set the ship down on the posse.
The few townsfolk who were not under the ship galloped off, suddenly keen to be elsewhere. The loading ramp lowered with the bitchy whine of old hydraulics. Verin stood at the top, huge arms crossed over his chest, tapping one clawed foot on the deck plates.
Shax staggered out of his hiding spot, trying hard for an annoyed expression rather than one of profound relief. He pointed to the hull as he stumbled up the ramp. “I am not cleaning that mess off.”
“Idiot.” Verin snorted. “The mess’ll freeze the second we leave atmosphere and burn off the next time we do reentry. So damn planet-bound still.”
“Shut up. Am not.” Halfway up the ramp, Shax stopped. “Why’s the ship crooked?”
“It’s not. Get in here. You don’t look so good, genius.”
Shax was about to admit he didn’t feel so great, either, when the loading ramp inconsiderately leaped up and hit him in the face. The last things he heard were Verin grumble-cussing and soft mooing.
3rd Place Gay Fantasy - 2013 Rainbow Awards