I hopped down the steps, making a mental note to nail down the habitually loose board on the second step again. The night air hung thick and smelled heavily of the magnolia trees surrounding the property.

The sounds of the bayou were almost deafening this far outside of town. Bull frogs, cicadas and other things I didn’t want to think about, all talking, singing, calling into the night. I was nearing the jeep when something made me stop and look toward the neighboring trailer, the trailer Grace shared with two of the other girls. I froze, my heart speeding until I thought it might crack free of my chest. I stared into the shadowed area in front of her trailer and felt my arms go heavy, my hands go numb. A flush stole over me and I wasn’t sure whether I was freezing or burning up.

Colin—Him—had Grace up against the side of her trailer. One strong leg wedged between her thighs, Grace’s slutty-short jean skirt riding up too high, or just high enough for what they were doing. Her tanned legs were wrapped around his lean waist, bare feet hooked at the small of his back. He had one hand fisted in her fake blond hair and one sliding up the outside of her slim, naked thigh, snaking its way under her skirt.

I couldn’t breathe, air turned to fire in my lungs and I wanted to hate him. I wanted to hate him but all I could do was hate myself for being this way. Grace moaned and I clenched my fist so hard the keys to my jeep dug into my palm. I shouldn’t feel this way. I shouldn’t be watching this, feeling jealous. Jealous of Grace. I shouldn’t be wishing it was me Colin had pinned to the side of the trailer, slowly thrusting his jean-clad hips, looking like he wanted nothing more than to sink into her warm depths and break apart. I wanted to hate him for doing this to me, even if he had no idea I wanted him. For making me watch this, even though he wasn’t making me do anything. I wanted to hate him but I only hated myself for feeling utterly betrayed by someone who barely knew I existed.

Why couldn’t I be like Jace and Alex and everyone else I knew? I’d taken girls out, I’d even gotten close to screwing a few of them but it’d never felt right. Then, a year ago, when Colin moved into our compound from parts unknown, I’d taken one look at him and known. I wanted him. I also knew I’d never act on it and I’d never let Jace or Alex know about my…urges. How could I?

It was bad enough to think I might be gay, but I thought it worse somehow to be attracted to Colin, someone so blatantly masculine. Maybe if I were attracted to an effeminate man it wouldn’t be so shameful. Like an effeminate man might be better because they’re kind of the middle ground between a man and a woman. Like, if that’s what did it for me, it’d be a little more excusable. Feeling my dick harden for a boy—a man—like Colin? Shit, I couldn’t even lie to myself about what that meant.

Sometime during the moment I’d been lost in my thoughts, Colin had stilled. Grace didn’t seem to notice, wiggling her hips as if to encourage him. He moved his mouth away from hers, resting his forehead against hers for a moment before turning his face slightly in my direction and drawing in a long breath through his nose. I thought about running, not wishing to be caught watching this private moment, even if all I wanted to do was walk over there and tear Grace away from him. When Colin scented the air again, testing, I realized the keys in my hand had cut into my palm deep enough to cause a good bit of blood to drip down my fingers and splash onto the gravel at my feet. Shit.

I backed up a step but my boot crunched in the gravel and Colin was no longer too engrossed in what he was doing to not notice. Colin, a descendant of Berserkers, had quite a few supernatural abilities, which unfortunately included an enhanced sense of smell. I realized too late, I’d been caught the moment the first drop of blood escaped my palm.

His intense, liquid amber eyes met mine and I could have sworn they started to glow but then he blinked and they were normal again—well, as normal as incredible, odd amber colored eyes could be. The urge to turn and run back inside the trailer and pretend none of this ever happened was nearly overwhelming but, I’d been spotted and I didn’t like the thought of being both a coward and a peeping tom. Damn.

Colin leaned in, whispered something to Grace that had her giggling, then patted her exposed thigh with one large hand before stepping away and allowing her feet to touch the ground. She cast a smug look in my direction and I wondered if she knew what I felt for Colin. I had a moment of panic before deciding there was no way she could know. No one knew. I’d barely admitted it to myself and always took great care to never do anything that might give me away. She turned and skipped up the steps to her trailer before disappearing inside.

Colin stood with his hands on his hips and his back to me for a few long seconds before he seemed to come to some decision and turned, walking toward me with a determined gate that had me backing up a couple of steps until I bumped into the front of my jeep.

“Hey, I was just—” I blushed, thankful for the darkness and hoping it’d be enough to keep my reaction from being apparent to him. I cleared my throat and tried again. “Left my phone in the jeep, just came out to grab it.”

Of course my attempt at being casual was ruined by my nervous stuttering and the blood oozing in a lazy trickle over my palm when I held my keys up as proof of my purpose for skulking around in the dark. I quickly tucked my bleeding hand behind my back although I knew the action was of no use.

Colin looked at me with the same quiet intensity that’d drawn me to him to begin with. Well, that and his amazing set of eight-pack abs hiding just behind the blue plaid button-up shirt he wore. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up to his elbows, exposing toned, tanned arms with a dusting of dark hair I wished I could run my fingertips over.

I jerked my gaze back to his, realizing I’d been staring and he still hadn’t said anything. “Sorry, for interrupting, I mean.” I tilted my head in the direction of Grace’s trailer. I really was sorry, but not for the reason I implied.

“Hmmm,” Colin hummed, as if he was contemplating accepting or rejecting my lie. He stepped closer, too close. My breath caught and I thought I should back away but there was nowhere to go. I was stuck between Colin and the cool, steel body of the jeep.

Trying not to meet his gaze directly, I let my eyes rove over his face until his earlobes caught my attention. Well, not his earlobes but the gauged plugs taking up space there. The jewelry held some type of magic, the centers of the index finger-sized holes were comprised of a mass of tiny, swirling gears. The small flash of steampunk style fit Colin perfectly. The gears in perpetual motion kept up their silent dance. Spin, twist, catch. Spin, twist, catch. Almost as mesmerizing as Colin himself. Almost.

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