people magazines sexiest man alive

FREE Naughty Excerpt FANGSTERS; Adam Levine Sexiest Man Alive 2013

Adam Levine Sexiest Man Alive 2013

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From what I gather, it hasn’t been officially announced. But it’s been buzzing around that Adam Levine is supposed to be this year’s People Magazine choice for Sexiest Man of the Year.

Gossip Cop reports The Voice coach and Maroon 5 singer will be given the title on Nov. 20. People confirms to us that the announcement will be “next week” and the issue will be on stands on Wednesday.

In the past, Gossip Cop has predicted several winners ahead of time and they’ve always been correct. I hope it is true. It works for me. If I could actually remember things like this I would link to a book where I patterned a character after Adam Levine in a gay romance I wrote not too long ago.

In any event, Adam Levine also had one of the hottest houses I’ve seen in an Architectural Digest layout since they did one on Ryan Seacrest’s home about ten years ago. Trust me when I tell you it’s worth following this link to AD just to see the Adam Levine photo and the jeans Levine is wearing. That photo alone made him the sexiest man alive and he didn’t even know it at the time. I wish I could share it here, but copyright laws prevent these things nowadays. At least there are several photos of Levine on wiki commons like the one above that are safe to share.

FREE Naughty Excerpt FANGSTERS

I’m posting a longer excerpt for Fangsters today and I’ll be linking to my other blog because this blog is g-rated and I self-censor here all the time for various reasons. The reason this excerpt is longer is because I’d like people who haven’t read the book to check out certain scenes here for reasons I think are interesting…for lack of a better word. Keep in mind that I’m an openly gay writer, Fangsters was edited by an openly gay man (Don Weise) who used to be senior editor at one of the largest LGBT presses in the world, and we thought the content in Fangsters was actually safe compared to what other vampire/crime books look like out there today. And I fully trusted, and still do trust, Don’s judgment when it comes to the content in Fangsters. He’s one of the few editors I’ve worked with in recent years that has far more experience than I have.

Since the release day, Fangsters seems to have touched on things we didn’t think would even be discussed. The book has rough sex, but not BDSM by any means and yet one book reviewer claimed it had BDSM scenes. I recently read another review where someone thought the main characters were bullies and that it was too intense for her to continue reading to the end. Well, sometimes vampires ARE bullies. But this pattern seems to continue at certain times with some (not all) of the reviews and it’s hard to figure out why because it is a book with a theme that revolves around vampires, organized crime, and exaggerated evil supernatural scenes. And yet there are still some very tender love scenes, especially when it comes time to turn one of the characters. In fact one scene was so emotional Don thought it would be wise to tone it down because this is a vamp book about organized crime and he thought it might be too schmaltzy.

So the confusing part to me is whether or not readers want vanilla gay vampires in organized crime and toned down sex scenes instead of exaggerated sex scenes because vampires are exaggerated supernatural beings. And I figured I would post one of the more exaggerated scenes from Fangsters here today for my blog readers who haven’t read Fangsters to see what I’m talking about. I’m not making any changes, trust me on that. I own every word in every book that is released and I would rather go up on a hill and die before I made a change. But I’m just curious.

This is the raw unedited version, so there might be a few issues, but it’s not that different from the final e-book for sale on retail web sites. Follow the link at the bottom to continue reading at my other web site.

On the way to the nightclub in Livingston, Digger seemed to have come out of the slump he’d been in when Anton had picked him up earlier. He shoved a Lady Gaga CD into the Escalade’s sound system and repeated the song Bad Romance all the way to the nightclub while he talked about his plans for the future. “This is fucking unreal, dude. We’re finally going to get a chance to do something fucking worthwhile.” He made a fist and punched his other hand. “We’ll teach that fucking von Sutton who’s the boss.”
            Unlike Digger and the rest of his clan, Anton had never acquired the crude northern New Jersey accent with which they all spoke. Once in a while people who didn’t know him well could still detect a hint of the New England accent he’d once had. But for the most part he didn’t have any accent at all. He’d concentrated on the way he spoke so he would lose all traces of his past life as a mortal. And in the same respect, he had no ambitions of aspiring to the crude colloquial accents of those he knew in New Jersey. He did this by listening to everything and waiting a few seconds before he actually spoke. Reading classic novels like The Great Gatsby and Moby Dick had also played a huge part in this constant need to improve himself. In fact, he’d read the first page of The Great Gatsbyso many times he could repeat it verbatim. And he’d learned to do this all alone, because there weren’t any people in his clan that could appreciate things of this nature. Dino read sports magazines; his mom read The National Enquirer. He would have been surprised if Angelo had read street signs. He knew for a fact that Digger had never even read a book from cover to cover.
            Anton lowered the volume and spoke over Lady Gaga. “Hold on, buddy. We’re not going to show anyone who the boss is. We’re just going to have a nice chat with von Sutton and make this right. The last thing we need is another war between the clans.”
            “Fuck that,” Digger said. “I think that little queen you’ve been tagging is making you a pussy. She’s got you whipped, man.”
            Anton didn’t take offense. He knew Digger had referred to Leo in that derogatory way because Digger couldn’t figure out their deal. In the same respect, he couldn’t resist torturing Digger a little either. “Don’t talk about my boyfriend that way. He’snot a queen and don’t change the pronouns.”
            Digger sat up and jerked his neck in a defensive way. He squared his shoulders and pointed his thumb to his chest. “And don’t fucking tell me what to do, because you’re not the boss of me.”
            “If you’d just give Leo a chance I’m sure you’d like him,” Anton said. He knew this would irritate Digger even more. “He’s the sweetest, smartest, kindest little soul I’ve ever known. And I’ve never met anyone better in bed. You should try to be more like him.”
            Digger slammed his fist into the door. “Spare me the fucking details. And fuck you.”
            “You should really try harder to get to know him better,” Anton said. “If you did, I think you’d really like him.”
            Digger flung him a stare. “Why don’t you just hit me over the head with a fucking hammer and be done with it.”
            Anton laughed. He slowed down so he could turn into the parking lot that would lead him to the nightclub. “Calm down, buddy. I’m only joking around on purpose to piss you off.”
            “You’re an epic dick.”
            Anton pulled into the parking space next to the front door of the club and said, “Just promise me you’ll try to get to know him. I’ve never felt this way before about anyone and I would like it if my best buddy approved of it. I’m only asking you to try, for my sake.”
            “What about me?” Digger asked. “I’m supposed to step aside and let this fucking human have you without a fight.”
            Anton knew this is where is could get complicated; he had to be delicate. He wanted to make it right partly because he did have feelings for Digger, and partly because he didn’t trust Digger completely. He didn’t want Digger causing any harm to Leo and he figured it would be better to have Digger on his side than against him. So he reached for Digger’s hand, knowing deep down Digger would never refuse him anything, and said, “We’ve always known how things are. We’ve always known there’s no way we could ever be together in a literal sense because they consider us cousins in the clan. I still feel the same way about you I always did, but I met Leo and I can’t help the way I feel about him. And besides, you’ve screwed everything thing that walks and I’ve never once gotten mad at you for it.”
            “That’s different,” Digger said. “It’s just sex. I didn’t care about any of them.”
            Anton didn’t want to get into a long discussion in the car. Digger had always been able to separate sex from love and it had never been that simple for Anton. They were already late and he wanted to get inside. “All I’m asking is that you try to get to know him better. You might even find you have a few things in common besides me.” He squeezed his hand harder. “Promise me you’ll at least try.”
            Digger made a face and said, “Okay. I will try. But I can’t promise I’ll actually like him.”
            Anton shrugged and said, “That’s all I’m asking. I think things will work out better than you think they will.”
            “I don’t see how,” said Digger.Digger had no idea Anton had already spoken to Leo about this a few days earlier. Anton hadn’t mentioned anything about them being vampires, but he did tell Leo that he and Digger had been on and off again lovers for a long time. When Leo heard this, he seemed more intrigued than annoyed, especially the part about them being cousins. When Anton said they were adopted and not really related by blood, it didn’t seem to calm Leo’s excitement. Leo even told Anton that he was attracted to Digger, too, but didn’t want to mention it aloud because he didn’t know how Anton would react.

When Digger and Anton entered the club that night, Leo greeted them from the other side of the bar and he spoke to Digger first this time. He exchanged a quick glance with Anton, and then he looked Digger up and down and said, “Those jeans and shoes are so cool. Where did you get them? I’d love to find shoes like that.”

Anton folded his arms across his chest and smiled. The best way for anyone to get to Digger was through compliments about his clothes or how he looked.

Digger seemed apprehensive at first. He looked down at his shoes and shrugged. “I got them at this shop in the East Village a few weeks ago. They’re vintage, from the 1970’s. From what I’m told they were never worn.”

Leo smiled at Anton. “Maybe all three of us could go there together sometime. I’d love to get a pair like that myself. What size are they?”
“Size ten,” Digger said. He lifted his head and looked into Leo’s eyes for the first time since he’d entered. “But they had a few in other sizes, too. Some even had higher heels but I didn’t want to get too carried away. As it is, some old bitch looked at me like I was from fucking Mars earlier tonight.”

“That’s my size,” Leo said. “And you shouldn’t worry about what anyone else thinks. You’re a hot guy and you look good in that outfit.”

This time Digger smiled. “You really think so? People think I dress weird sometimes.”
Leo nodded. “You’re adorable. You and Anton are the best looking guys I’ve ever met in my entire life, so don’t be silly.”

Anton wanted to jump over the bar and kiss Leo for being so smart. Average compliments never worked with Digger. If he’d said, “You and Anton are good looking guys,” that wouldn’t have been enough to satisfy him. But the fact that he’d said they were the best looking guys he’d ever met in his life seemed to cover all the bases, without question or doubt, and Digger stood there beaming at him, wallowing in vanity of the worst kind. And it had nothing to do with Digger’s vanity and all to do with his neediness and his genuine insecurity.

When it was time to leave so they could check out the nightclub and make their rounds so they would look as if they were actually doing something important, Leo and Digger fist-bumped and Digger promised he would take Leo to the shop in the East Village as soon as possible. Anton had no idea their shopping spree in the East Village would happen so soon, because when they returned to Leo’s bar two hours later and started talking about it again, Digger said, “Let’s go now.”

Anton sent him a glance. “Go where?”
“To the East Village,” he said. “I can take Leo to that shop, and then we can drop him off in Brooklyn when we’re done.”

“I’m working,” Leo said. “I’d love to go, but I can’t just leave. I need the money, too.”

“Fuck that,” said Digger. “You’re not just leaving. You’re leaving with the bosses. We’re in charge here, not the fucking manager. You can’t get into trouble for that and I’ll make sure you don’t lose any money.”

Anton had always admired the way Digger embraced being important. “I doubt the shop is open. It’s after midnight.” Anton had always been humble in that respect and he’d never pulled rank with anyone because his dad owned the nightclub. He wanted to be treated like every other employee there. But in trying to do this he only wound up making everyone else feel awkward and they didn’t know how to treat him. In many ways, Digger’s more honest approach made put people at ease.

“All I have to do is make one phone call and she’ll open for me,” Digger said. “I’m her best customer and she knows it.” He turned to Leo. “It’s owned by this really hot tranny and she’s in love with my dick.”

Leo laughed. “You’re silly.”

Anton said, “You can’t say that.”

Digger looked confused. “Say what? She is in love with my dick. She told me so.”
Leo reached across the bar and patted Digger on the shoulder. “He’s not talking about your dick. You can’t say tranny anymore. It’s considered a slur. It’s gaycism.”

Digger blinked. “Huh?”

Anton smiled; he knew Digger had never heard the word gaycism. He also knew Digger knew nothing about being politically correct. “You have to say transgender person. Or, cross dresser. But not tranny.”

“But everyone says tranny,” Digger said. “Even the trannies say tranny and they don’t take offense to it.”

“You could get into big trouble if you say it to the wrong person,” Leo said.

Digger still seemed confused. “But she calls herself a tranny and she’s not upset about it. What the fuck is up with that? Who’s making these fucking rules anyway?”

“She’s allowed to do that because she is transgender,” Leo said. “It’s like me calling myself a fag in jest. It’s self-deprecating and I’m not really serious about it.”

Digger looked up and rolled his eyes. “Whatever,” he said. “Are we going or not? I have to call the transgender person first.”
Anton and Leo exchanged a glance, and Anton could see that Leo was dying to go but he was waiting for Anton’s approval. So Anton looked around and said, “I guess it’s not too busy here, so it won’t matter if you’re gone. But I don’t want to make a habit of this. And we tell them we’re leaving early to check out a nightclub in the city to see how they do things, like we’re spies and this is work. I don’t want them thinking we going shopping.” That’s all Angelo needed to hear. They’d wind up back in Sicily sleeping in coffins next to donkey carts for sure.

Digger pulled his phone from his pocket. “I’ll make the call.”

When Digger turned his back on them, Anton leaned over the bar and kissed Leo on the cheek. “Thanks for being so nice to Digger. It means a lot to me.”

Leo shrugged. “Don’t thank me. I like him. He’s not so bad once you get to know him.”

*****

They took Anton’s Escalade into the city and left Leo’s TJ Wrangler in the parking lot at the nightclub. Leo didn’t want to leave it there at first and he offered to follow behind them. But Anton promised Leo the car would be safe and he’d pick him up in Brooklyn the following night and bring him back to New Jersey to get his car.

In a smart move, Leo insisted he sit in the backseat on the way to New York, and he winked at Anton again. It was evident he didn’t want to make Digger feel as if he were taking a backseat in a proverbial sense. It turned out to be the best gesture he’d made all night, because when Digger heard Leo insist on sitting in the backseat, Digger smiled so wide Anton was afraid his fangs would pop out in front of Leo. Digger opened the back door and he took the backseat himself, insisting that Leo sit up front with Anton. Although Anton had always been able to manipulate Digger in ways like this, it amazed him to see that Leo had figured it out so fast. And what amazed him even more was Digger and Leo didn’t stop talking from the moment they pulled out of the nightclub parking lot until they parked in front of the vintage clothing shop in the East Village.

The tall attractive transgender greeted them at the door and welcomed them into her boutique without a hint of attitude about re-opening the shop so late at night. When Anton apologized, she tossed her head back, waved him off with long red fingernails, and said, “I’m glad to be of service. It’s the ultimate compliment. And wait until the old queen in the antique store next to me hears that customers from New Jersey wanted me to open in the middle of the night. Honey, that’s gonna torture her for weeks to come and twist her tired old ass sixteen different ways.”

She wore a short red mini-dress made out of synthetic material that hugged her body so tightly she had to keep pulling it down so it wouldn’t ride up to her waist. Though she was six feet tall in six inch red stilettos, she walked with the kind of grace Anton had only seen in movies and beauty pageants. She wore no stockings and had long shapely legs so smooth they glistened beneath the spotlights near the costume jewelry counters. The top of the tight dress had a low scooped neck and she made no attempt to hide her large surgical implants. She seemed to like bending over in front of them, and she liked it even more when Digger put his hand on her ass and rubbed it up and down. Anton had a feeling Digger was more than just a regular customer and he had fucked her more than once. He could always tell by the look in their human eyes, as if they craved vampire dick so much they would do anything to get it again.

This wasn’t the kind of place where Anton would have gone shopping for anything, so he sat in a chair at the back of the shop while the owner helped Digger and Leo find interesting things she thought they might like. She’d locked the front door so there was no need to use the dressing rooms. At first Leo seemed apprehensive about changing in front of everyone, but Anton sent him a look of approval and nodded. Of course Digger put on a small show for the owner, and perhaps for Leo as well. When he pulled down the jeans he’d been wearing to try on a pair of brown bell bottoms, he did it fast and pretended to pull down his underwear at the same time by mistake. His thick flaccid dick dropped out and slapped against his leg, and the owner of the shop swooned and pressed her red fingernails to her glossy red lips.

Anton rolled his eyes. He’d seen it all before.

Leo’s jaw dropped.

And Digger smiled and said, “Sorry about that.” Then he pulled up his black boxer briefs and slowly packed his dick into them while everyone watched.

They wound up buying enough vintage clothes that night to keep the transgender in business for the next year. Anton paid for everything, insisting he wanted to do this for Digger and Leo. The owner threw in a few things for free and thanked them so many times Anton started to feel awkward. He’d grown up with a deep respect for small businesses and small business owners because that’s all he’d ever known. Although his dad had formed a corporation it wasn’t a giant corporate structure that consisted of mega stores and mainstream discount outlets, or chain restaurants and convenience stores. The businesses owned and covered by the clan, including those from whom they received protection money each month, were small and quirky just like this little shop where the transgender sold vintage clothing. Though Angelo Pagano could be one of the most ruthless vampires on the planet, Anton had seen his dad help small business owners remain alive and prosperous. One of the reasons why Anton and Digger had to pay a visit to von Sutton was to keep Nino’s small restaurant in business.

Leo wore a pair of beige bell bottoms and black shoes with chunky stacked high heels out of the store because he liked the way the shoes made him taller and the pants hugged his ass. Anton couldn’t argue. The beige pants looked so good he reached down and grabbed Leo’s ass on the way out to the car in front of four guys in hoodies who were passing by at the same time. The four guys didn’t seem to notice. If they did they didn’t care. They kept walking in the opposite direction, puffing on cigarettes, oblivious to everything around them.

Then Digger grabbed Leo’s ass and Anton sent him a look. Anton grabbed his arm and said, “That belongs to me.”

Digger stepped back and said, “What the fuck? It looks good. He doesn’t mind.” He’d worn a pair of brown hip-huggers out of the store that he thought looked better with the high heels he’d been wearing all night. There was no argument about that from Anton either. He liked the way the low-rise pants bulged in the crotch.

Leo shrugged and said, “It’s okay, Anton. I really don’t mind. I wouldn’t let anyone else do that. But you guys are different. I feel safe with you both. I like you both.”

This time Anton and Digger exchanged a glance, and Anton said, “As long as you don’t mind, I guess it’s okay. I just don’t want him taking advantage. I know how he can be.”

Leo turned and kissed Anton on the cheek, and then he turned and kissed Digger on the cheek. “You guys are both adorable and I can’t thank you enough for buying me all these clothes. No one’s ever done anything like that before for me.”

“You don’t have to thank us,” Anton said. “We wanted to do it.”

“That’s right,” Digger said. “Anton was right about you. There is something about you that’s hard to explain. You’re so fucking sweet and there isn’t a mean thing about you.”

At that moment, Anton could hear Leo’s heart beating softly; he could smell his blood and all he wanted to do was sink his teeth into his neck and drink it. It overwhelmed him so much he had to step back and take a deep breath. He also knew from the look in Digger’s eyes he was thinking the same thing. So he smiled and opened the back door so they could put their packages in the car. As he turned, he glanced at Digger and said, “That’s completely off limits. It’s too soon, and I’m not sure I’ll ever do it. He’s too good.”

Digger didn’t argue this time. He seemed to understand and said, “It’s cool, buddy. I get it. We’re good.”

Anton fist-bumped him and said, “Excellent, man.” One of the biggest ironies about being a vampire Anton had had to learn to deal with was finding the strength to resist the one thing that attracted him the most: a perfect human with the purest, sweetest, most honest intentions. They craved all human blood, good or bad. But the sweetest blood of all came from the sweetest humans alive.

Leo had been putting packages into the backseat and listening at the same time. He turned, faced them both, and said, “What are you two bad boys talking about now? It’s like you speak in code sometimes and I can’t figure you out.”

Digger said, “Nothing you have to worry about, dude. Just business.”

Anton kissed him on the cheek and said, “Don’t you worry your pretty little head about anything. We’re going to take you back to Brooklyn now and get you home safe and sound.”

Leo frowned. “Well that sucks, because I was invited to this party in a big warehouse a few blocks from my apartment. I was kind of hoping you’d both want to go. But if you’re too tired we don’t have to.”

“A party,” Digger said.

Anton knew the next best thing to devouring fresh human blood for Digger was a party. They still had plenty of time before dawn. “I guess we can check it out. But we can’t stay long.”


 

Chapter Eight

            On the way to Brooklyn, Leo said, “We should all plan one day when we’re all off and visit the Statue of Liberty. Wouldn’t that be fun? I could pack a picnic basket. I’ve always wanted to see it, but it’s not the kind of thing I’d ever do alone in a bazillion years by myself.”

Digger made a sarcastic remark. “We could skip all the way there.”

But when Leo mentioned them all getting together during the day, Anton sent Digger a glance in the review mirror and changed the subject fast. He didn’t want Leo wondering why they still hadn’t gotten together once since they’d met during the daylight hours. “Why isn’t that the kind of thing you’d do alone?” From what he’d surmised so far, Leo tended to be more emotional that most men and he enjoyed analyzing himself and other people.

Leo smiled and said, “Crowds make me nervous during the day. Plus, I’m just not the history type I guess. I’m not political either. I know that sounds just awful, but I’m honest about it. I wouldn’t know a Democrat from a Republican.”

In an exaggerated move, Anton slammed his palm to his chest, leaned back, and said, “No. Tell me that’s not true. You’re not political? You don’t swoon each time they mention the President? What kind of a gay dude are you? You’re not marching in protests, waving rainbow flags, and planning your next pride vent? Why I should put you out of this car right now and leave you in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge for such blashphemy.”

Digger thought he was serious. “Calm down, dude. He didn’t kill a puppy.”

For a moment, Leo glanced at him with a horrified expression. Then he seemed to realize Anton had been joking and he smiled. “Seriously. I try, but I’m just not the political type. It’s not that I don’t agree with all the political stuff. I’m just not into it, is all. I’d rather spend the afternoon fooling around with my TJ than marching in gay prides.”

“I think you mean gay pride parades,” Anton said. He tended to get a little too political sometimes when it came to gay rights and equality. It’s just that he was a vampire, and not really allowed to participate in anything too political. His mom and dad usually took care of getting him fake birth certificates and a new identity every so often, but he wasn’t even on the books, so to speak, in a literal sense. If he had been human, he would have been marching, carrying signs, and screaming for equal rights with everyone else.

In the backseat, Digger laughed and said, “Yeah, fuck. I like fooling around with my TJ, too.” Then he pulled down his zipper, whipped his dick out of his pants, and waved it back and forth.

When Leo looked back and saw this, he laughed. “You’re so bad. What are we going to do with you?”

“I can think of a lot of things,” Digger said.

“Put your dick away,” Anton said. “He was talking about his car, as in TJ Wrangler Jeep, not his dick. Is that all you ever think about, man?”
Digger pouted, put his dick away, and said, “I thought it was another word for dick, like Johnson or pecker. What the fuck do I know?”
“Not much,” Anton said. Though he had been amused by this, he didn’t want to encourage Digger.

“The point is that I’m just not political and I never will be,” Leo said. “To be honest, I’m not even that interested in the Statue of Liberty, except for the picnic lunch. I’d rather go shopping, or do something fun instead.”

Anton reached over and held Leo’s hand for a second. “I’m not all that political either, so you don’t have to explain anything to me. And I’ve managed to live a good full life so far without going to the Statue of Liberty, and I’ll continue on somehow if I never actually get there.” Anton had been around long enough to see more Presidents and politicians than he cared to remember. He’d lived through a lot of the history most people he hung out with had only read about in history books. In the past one hundred years, he’d come to learn that all of the politicians he’d seen were scoundrels, liars, and crooks, and that most of history was usually rewritten to suit whatever the agenda was and couldn’t be depended on anyway. And they never spoke about the gay politicians openly.

When they pulled up to Leo’s apartment building and saw a parking space on the street, Leo told him to take it because those parking spaces weren’t easy to find at that hour. Leo said they could walk to the party in the warehouse from there and that the car would be safe if he left it alone. Anton glanced at his watch and saw it was only 2:30 and they still had plenty of time before dawn. Digger unfolded from the backseat, lifted his head, and sniffed around as if he were searching for a scent. Anton knew Digger well enough by then to know he was probably anticipating plenty of fresh human blood at this party.

So Anton smiled at him, trying not to make this comment sound unusual, and said, “We all stick together tonight. No extra-curricular activities, if you get my drift, dude.”

“I know,” Digger said, as if he’d read Anton’s mind. “It’s cool.”

“I don’t want to have to go looking for you when it’s time to leave,” Anton said. “I’m serious.”

Before Digger could answer, Leo stepped up between them and reached for both their hands at the same time and said, “Let’s go, guys. I don’t want you two boys arguing about this, too. All you ever do is argue. We’re going to have fun tonight, and that’s that.”

Digger and Anton looked at each other and shrugged. Then Leo jerked their arms at the same time and started walking to the Avenue. When Leo made adorable innocent comments like that Anton found himself so confused he didn’t know how to reply. He felt  a rush of excitement and all those long dark years ahead of him as a vampire suddenly looked brighter than he’d ever imaged they could be. He had a feeling Digger felt the same way, because Anton had never seen Digger walk down a street with a smile that wide or his head held so high.

When they reached the warehouse, no one greeted them at the entrance. From what Anton could tell, this was one of the parties that people post about on social media like Facebook and a bunch of people who either know each other or don’t know each other show up simply because there’s nothing else to do. The music was loud and the lights dimmed so low Leo had to look down so he wouldn’t trip or fall into anyone. Everyone seemed to be between the ages of eighteen and thirty years old, with a few exceptions where people were over thirty and trying way too hard to cling to their twenties.

They’d stopped holding hands by then, but Leo was still walking between them. He led them to a massive exposed brick wall where someone had set up a make shift bar on a long wooden folding table, with disposable cups, cheap bottles of wine, and kegs of beer. The music wasn’t as loud back there, and the people standing around the bar were clustered in small groups of three or more standing around talking. While Leo walked up to a young woman with mousy brown hair, Anton overheard one young man with a scruffy beard tell two other young men with goatees, “Like yeah, man. It’s like epic, seriously. It’s epic, dude.” There didn’t seem to be any particular dress code either…other than loose baggy jeans, sagging T-shirts, and gum-soled shoes. There were a few Goth types, all dressed in black with creepy asymmetrical haircuts and black skinny jeans that looked as if they were trying too hard to be quasi vampires. There were also a few painfully thin young men with plucked eyebrows wearing lipstick and earrings. Anton started to worry about what they were all thinking of him. Leo and Digger blended in perfectly with this crown in their retro l970’s outfits. But Anton looked as though he’d just missed the bus back to Harvard Yard.

Leo pulled Anton’s arm and said, “This is my friend, Sarah.” He smiled at Sarah and said, “This is Anton, and that’s Digger.” He didn’t seem to want to go into any details about their relationship with her.

Anton had to poke Digger in the ribs because he’d been staring at one of the young guys in skinny jeans and purple hair. “Pay attention. This is Sarah, Leo’s friend.”

Digger turned fast and said, “Hey, nice to meet you. I’ll be right back.” Then he left before Anton had a chance to stop him.

“It’s nice to meet you,” Sarah said. She had a clear even voice and spoke as if she were about to lecture on an important topic. “I’ve heard a few things about you.” Then she lifted a small joint, inhaled, and held her breath for a moment.

Anton smiled and said, “It’s nice to meet you, too.” He had no idea Leo had been talking about him to his friends. He didn’t know Leo had friends. He’d imagined him as a loner of sorts.

“I’m a writer,” Sarah said, as if she couldn’t wait to make this announcement. “I find that these parties, with all their social ramifications, fascinating, don’t you? Why the gender politics alone, with respect to gender dynamics and socialization are amazing.”
Anton smiled. But he was thinking, “WTF?” He’d run across her kind before. She was the unattractive, slightly overweight, girl from college who never wore make up and always complained she never had dates. And yet she slept with any guy who was willing to pull down his zipper and tag her. She tended to be too left-wing political, was always far too pedantic, and bored everyone to death the moment she opened her mouth. She never implied anything: she inferred. That night she wore an outfit that looked as if she were trying to punish the world with bad taste. It was this full body jump suit, in a cottony white fabric that had little pink roses, with a halter top that made her small breasts look like tiny pointed party hats for puppies, and short pants that gave her an exaggerated camel toe that could have been classified a moose knuckle.

Anton glanced over his shoulder to see where Digger had gone, but he was nowhere in sight. He’d been hoping Sarah’s question had been rhetorical; however, she didn’t give up. The moment he turned around to face her, she took another hit from the joint and said, “I find it interesting to watch my generation in action this way with regard to gender politics, especially considering that the US is now ranked so low as far as educational standards are concerned. Don’t you agree?”

Anton smiled and shrugged. “I kind of like America.” It was better than being sent back to Sicily. He knew better than to get sucked into a conversation with her type. You couldn’t win no matter how hard you tried.

“But isn’t it a shame there’s no upward mobility anymore? Do you think that has anything to do with the gender politics of gay men, since gay men are becoming so popular now?” Sarah asked. She moved and the moose knuckle rode up higher.

He had no idea what she was talking about, and doubted she did either. It made no sense. He couldn’t find a direct correlation between upward mobility, gender politics, and gay men. So he decided to shut her up for good. “I don’t think there is gender politics with gay men,” Anton said. “We’re all men. Period. Plain and simple.”

Leo laughed. He must have sensed Anton was getting irritated. “Sarah, unlike me, is very political and very socially aware. But she’s very sweet, too.”

Anton knew the one other thing that could shut her up fast, and he took advantage of it. He smiled at Leo and said, “I’m sure she is.” Then he turned to Sarah and asked, “And what do you do for a living?” He knew she would start by telling him her major in college. Even though she was at least six years out of college, her type never let go of their college years easily. And none had decent jobs.

“My major was anthropology,” she said, with a superior tone that suggested anything less would be unacceptable. “And right now I’m working as a waitress in a coffee shop and my mom in Iowa is helping me with the rent. I’m thinking of going back to grad school in the fall to get my masters in puppetry.”

Just when he thought he’d heard it all: “Puppetry?” She pronounced “puppetry” by saying “pup-ah-treeeeee,” as if the last syllable would never end.
“I think it’s going to be a growing industry,” Sarah said, looking more serious now. “It’s like, well, you know, a good way to study relationships and social settings without insulting any minority groups. I think students need that kind of experience. And I’ve always thought of myself more as a student than a teacher.” She pronounced the word “student” as “sta-dant,” with the emphasis on the second syllable once again. In fact, Anton noticed she seemed to exaggerate the last syllable of almost every single word she said.

Anton smiled and said, “That’s very interesting.” Then he put his arm around Leo and pulled him closer. “It was nice meeting you, Sarah. We have to go look for my buddy now. We can’t stay too long.”

Before Sarah had a chance to say a word, Anton guided Leo away from the bar and into the middle of what seemed to be a make shift dance floor of chipped concrete. On the way, he leaned into Leo’s side and asked, “Is she a good friend of yours.”

“We went to college together,” Leo said. “Don’t worry, though. I know how she can be. She’s really not that bad once you get to know her. She’s probably my closest friend right now. I don’t have time to make a lot of friends. I just have a lot of acquaintances instead. It’s the social anxiety thing.”

This made Anton feel both relieved and sad. He hated the thought of Leo being lonely, but he enjoyed knowing that Leo didn’t have too many interfering friends hanging around all the time. “I’m sure she’s very nice,” Anton said. “I’m just worried about Digger. He tends to get into trouble sometimes if I don’t watch him.”

“Oh he’ll be fine,” Leo said. “Let’s dance.”

There was a slower version of an Adele song playing now. Anton didn’t know the name, but he’d always liked it. He glanced around and saw women dancing with women, men dancing with men, and men dancing with women. On the far side of the dance floor, he even saw a six foot tall cross dresser dancing with a middle aged man in a dark business suit. There didn’t seem to be any rules or a protocol to follow like there were in the clubs he knew in New Jersey, so he put his arms around Leo, pulled him closer, and they started to rock slowly to the music with Leo’s head on his chest.

They danced this way to a few more songs and then Anton looked at his watch. It was three thirty now and there was no sign of Digger anywhere. He wasn’t worried about Digger in a literal sense. He knew Digger could take care of himself and he could find his own way back to New Jersey if he had to. Anton was more concerned about what Digger might be doing. At a party like this, with so many innocent young victims filled with fresh blood, there was no telling how Digger would react. As it was, Anton found it difficult to ignore all the natural urges passing through his supernatural body, which was why he rarely went to places like this.  The fact that these fools were all so wide-eyed, trusting, and unsuspecting even made it more tempting. Every time he took a breath he smelled someone else’s blood, and every time he glanced into another set of wide open, innocent eyes he wanted to pounce on them and suck the pretentious gender politics right out of their bodies.

But Anton had learned to control these urges and Digger still hadn’t. Angelo blamed all this on the fact that Uncle Sonny had babied and coddled Anton so much. “You stay right here and wait for me,” Anton said. “I’m going to look for Digger. We have to leave soon. Don’t go anywhere.”

Leo made a move to follow him. “Why can’t I come? I don’t want to stand here alone.”

“I’ll only be a few minutes,” Anton said. He could look for Digger faster if he was alone. He could literally sniff him out.

Leo made a face and pouted. “Okay, I’ll wait over there at the bar with Sarah. I won’t go anywhere.”

He would have preferred it if Leo had waited alone near the dance floor. He didn’t want to deal with Sarah again that night. “Okay. I’ll be right back.”

As he passed through clusters of people sipping drinks out of plastic cups and smoking joints made out of wrinkled papers, he saw no signs of Digger anywhere. There were so many different scents he had trouble picking up Digger’s at first. But when he came to a dark corner at the back of the warehouse, where a group of young people all dressed in black were all making out together on a Danish modern sofa that reminded Anton of a remnant from an old black and white TV sitcom, Anton caught a whiff of Digger and he walked toward a small doorway.

He approached the doorway slowly, as if unsure of what he might find. With slow even steps, he glanced into a small room with brick exposed walls and found Digger pinned to a wall, gagged and bound at the neck, wrists and ankles. He stepped into the room and said, “What the fuck, man?” And then someone grabbed him from behind and tried to shove him up against the other brick wall.

When he tried to turn, someone took hold of his other arm and forced him closer to the wall. It was evident they were vampires, and even more evident they weren’t as strong as Anton. He flung his arms out fast and hit them both so hard they flew across the room and banged into the walls. The music outside was so loud no one could hear a thing. The young people outside the room were so stoned on X and so focused on making out with each other they wouldn’t have cared even if they had heard something unusual.

Anton stood up and glared at Digger. “I told you not to get into trouble.”

Digger’s mouth was covered with duct tape; he couldn’t speak. He mumbled something incoherent while Anton turned to grab one of the vampires by the throat. While he lifted him up high and shook him around, the other vampire he’d thrown against the wall came to his buddy’s defense. Anton had excellent radar and he knew when he was about to be attacked. So he lifted his other arm just in time and he grabbed the second vampire by the throat and held him up at the same time.

“What the fuck is this?” Anton asked, as he held them in mid-air. He’d run into their kind before: inferior vampires who lived and slithered with other scavengers of the night and slept in dark sewers during the day. They’d been turned too soon by irresponsible vampires who’d never taken the time to teach them anything. They fed on weak humans, rats, and anything else that wouldn’t have to make them work too hard. These two looked to be about eighteen years old and he could tell by the wild animalistic look in their eyes they’d been turned very recently.

“He was feeding on me dinner, he was,” said one of them. He had reddish blonde hair and a lean slim body like Prince Harry. He spoke with a British Cockney accent, which meant he must have come to the US by ship. Anton had heard about this before, too. They were coming to the US in droves from Europe, hiding in cargo crates and containers, because they thought things were better in the US. Most didn’t make it because they weren’t smart enough to know how to survive. They didn’t know how to find proper sleeping quarters during the day…a regular wooden box didn’t do it…and the sunlight usually did most of them in before the ships left port. Contrary to what most think, vampires simply turn to dust the instant the sunlight hits them. They don’t explode into a dramatic burst of flames and scream for mercy. The turn to powder.

The other one said, “And we ain’t gonna take that from no one, we ain’t.” They must have known each other in Europe. He reminded Anton of a younger version of the actor, Owen Wilson.

“If I let you two down will you behave,” Anton said. “Don’t try to fuck around with me. I’m stronger and I’ll eat you both for dinner if you try anything, so don’t tempt me.”

They both nodded at the same time and Anton slowly lowered them to the concrete floor. He released their necks slowly to be sure they wouldn’t try anything stupid. He warned them again and said, “I’m serious. Don’t fuck around. I’ll stomp both of your vampire asses into the ground with my bare hands. And I think you know I can do it.” Then he told them to go to the wall and release Digger first. They hesitated for a moment, exchanged a quick glance, and then followed his orders.

The moment Digger was released he grabbed them both by the throat at the same time.

The one who looked like Owen Wilson shouted, “Hey.” It sounded like “Eye.”

Anton glared at Digger and said, “Put them both down.”

“What the fuck, Anton? You saw what they did to me.”

“I said put them both down right now. We don’t hurt our own kind.” Anton clenched his fists and lifted his arms to show he was serious. His fangs showed and he growled. Digger should have known how to handle them alone. He’d had more advantages and he should have been the older and wiser one.

Digger’s fang popped out. “They caught me off guard, while I was feeding on this hot little piece of Goth ass.”

That explained a lot to Anton. The only way one of the inferior vampires could actually tie up and older vampire like Digger was if the older vampire was feeding at the time. Drinking blood rendered them almost helpless, which was why they had to be so careful when they did feed. “You should have stayed with Leo and me. You shouldn’t have been feeding on anyone here. I told you to be careful.”

The young red haired vampire sneered at Digger and said, “Yeah, you should have been minding your own bloody business, you should have.”

Digger reached for him and said, “I could split you in half and eat you alive.”

In a flash so fast it sounded as if a candle had been blown out, Anton wound up next to Digger and he grabbed his arm. “Seriously, man. Look at them. They’re babies. Do you really want to do this? Wouldn’t you rather we taught them a few things instead?”

Digger showed his fangs and lurched at them with a growl. They both jumped back at the same time and Digger said, “You little fuckers are lucky this time.”

Anton ignored Digger’s histrionics and asked, “Where’s this guy you were feeding on?”
They looked at each other and shrugged. The one with red hair said, “He just took off.”

Anton made a face to show them he wasn’t amused. He knew nothing would happen to the young man they’d been feeding on because he’d run away. If they’d reached a point where he’d been too weak to walk that could have been an issue. He knew the guy would forget about everything that had happened to him and the fang marks on his body would disappear within a few hours. He would feel a strange sensation for a while, as if he’d just woken up from a dream he couldn’t recall. But he wouldn’t remember anything significant.

Digger said, “I think we should teach them both a lesson they’ll never forget. You don’t fuck around with your elders.”

“They have enough problems as it is,” Anton said. “And we have to get Leo back to his apartment before dawn.”

While the wretched young vampires stood there listening, waiting to see what Anton would do next, Anton slowly walked over to them and put his arms around them both at the same time. “You both need to leave now. And if I see you anywhere in here for the rest of the night I’m not going to be so nice.” In a way, he felt sorry for them. They hadn’t had the advantages he’d had when he’d been a new vampire. No one had taught them the right way to live among humans, or how to feed. He had a feeling it wouldn’t end well for them. One night they would be careless and bed down for the day in a sewer that wasn’t completely protected from the sun. A work crew would come by and lift the top off a manhole cover and they would turn to dust instantly at the first ray of daylight. And there was nothing Anton could do about that. He belonged to a clan that had rules and regulations and he wasn’t allowed to mingle with vampires of their kind.

The blond turned to leave without saying a word. But the one with the red hair stopped and sent Anton a backward glance. “Just wanted to say thank you, mate. You’re a decent bloke. I hope we meet up again someday.”

This surprised Anton more than it should have. Vampires like this didn’t usually have the manners or the decency to say thank you to anyone. Anton nodded and said, “Keep an eye on your friend from now on.” He turned to Digger and frowned. “I know it’s not easy, trust me. But sometimes you have to do these things because you’re stronger and smarter. You’ll see what I mean. Most of all, find a safe place to sleep and don’t ever take the daylight for granted.”