Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Preview Thinner than Blood

One

The world I’m growing up in is very different from yours. This world has broken my family apart. No longer can we live as packs. We must blend in with humans to avoid being hunted. Even then, sometimes the mercs will find us…like tonight.
While the existence of what humans have named werewolves was discovered a long time ago, it was only in the last decade or so that some human egghead realized the blood of a werewolf could be a cure-all for the human race. Cancer, AIDS, heart disease, bird flu, swine flu…hell, even STDs. Get a transfusion of our blood or receive a transplant of our harvested organs and you’ll never have to worry about being sick for the rest of your life. Nope, not even a cold.
Unfortunately, it took some bad reactions for the eggheads to appreciate that the blood and tissues of a werewolf tend to be very incompatible with human bodies. A lot of people died before some well-meaning mixed breed like myself volunteered to help the humans. His actions damned us all.

Through him, the value of the Second Gen was discerned. A Second Gen is the offspring of a half-breed and a human. We’re not as strong as First Gens—the half human offspring of werewolves—and we can’t transform. That little handicap makes us easier to capture and confine than First Gens.
It’s our human blood that makes us special. It’s why we’re hunted. The DNA of a werewolf is too potent to be introduced into the human body, but if nature dilutes the blood with human DNA, then you’ve got a ready-made, transport-viable vaccination for every illness the devil has ever thrown at this world. Not only is my mixed blood more compatible, so are my organs—liver, heart, lungs, kidneys. It’s scientific gold.
The government created legal farms where a few First Gens and thousands of Second Gens are stored, suspended in semi-conscious states with their blood continuously pumped from their bodies. Little pieces of their insides are harvested in intervals allowing regeneration without loss of life. Gotta protect the product.
But money has a funny way of corrupting things.
Now Second Gens are black market gold.
So you can see why I’ve had to grow up faster, smarter, and tougher than most. There’s no time for me to act like a kid and yet, somehow, I’m expected to be one. I guess that’s the whole blending in part.
I do good most days, but sometimes I don’t. That’s because of my temper. I’m a bit of a hothead. Gram says I’ve got too much of my mom in me. It makes my chest tighten to think of her. She is a mixed blood. Or was. I don’t know. She was taken some time ago. Probably to a government farm somewhere. Probably. A big chunk of me hopes she’s still alive. Then there’s this other little piece that hates the thought of her suffering like that. Gram says we’re going to get her back. And Gram has never lied to me. So I believe him. One day, I’ll see my mom again.
Back to my temper. It’s the reason I’m currently lying on the pavement, rain pouring in my eyes and mouth, bleeding from my head and a few other places. You’d be wrong to think I lost a fight. I can hold my own against several men and maybe a few mercs. Gram has made sure of that. But when it comes to being blindsided by a two ton pickup…well, I didn’t stand a chance.
Before I got laid out like a blind opossum, I was sitting in a bar having a drink with my uncle. Yeah, it’s a school night, and I really shouldn’t be out after dark anyway. It’s easier to discover my secret then. But Gram is out of town, and my uncle is ill-equipped to provide structure or rules for a teenager. When I’d said I wanted to go out, he didn’t bat an eye. He just shrugged on his jacket and climbed in the truck.
I have a fake I.D, but I don’t actually need it. My uncle looks bat shit crazy. When he buys me a drink, there are few bartenders with the balls not to comply. The reason he looks bat shit crazy is because he is bat shit crazy. The guy has no moral compass, no conscience. No sense of equal justice. Eye for an eye, soul for a soul? No. He’s never heard of any of that. Say, if the girl at your favorite fast food joint short changes him five bucks and then gives him attitude. He’d set her on fire and finish eating his sandwich without batting an eye. It’s not his fault. He was stolen as a baby and raised by a group who altered his DNA, messed with head, and in the end, produced the pretty screwed up by-product who is my uncle. Well, he’s not really my uncle. His dad practically raised my mom and then took me in when my mom was taken. I guess that makes us close enough to family. And family makes blood. That being said, there are only five people in this world my uncle cares about—his mother, his kid brothers, Gram, and me. Somehow I slipped in under his wing. I’d say my uncle felt sorry for me, but I’m not sure he actually feels.
My uncle is under firm orders from Gram—his alpha and father—not to engage, not attack, not to kill. My uncle strictly obeys those orders. He has for as long as I’ve known him. But luckily, tonight, he made an exception. If he hadn’t, I’m sure I’d be dead or stuck on a farm somewhere being bled like a pig.
Things are cool at first. We’re two normal guys, having normal drinks and not-so-normal conversation (the uncle’s people skills are non-existent.) It’s the beginning of the end when a really cute blonde winks at me from across the room. Okay. She’s smoking hot. Impossible for a horny teenager to resist. She and I spend half the night flirting from a distance. Finally, I stand up, give a nod to my uncle, and cross the room. Man, she’s even prettier up close. Her legs go on for miles. Her ass is barely covered by this little shred of fabric she’s trying to pass off as a skirt. I have to drag my eyes away from watching the swell of her breasts or risk falling into her cleavage. Forcing my gaze to stick to her face, I see she’s definitely older than me. But of the two of us, only I know that. I can pass for college age. Good genetics.
Talking to the blonde is easy. She’s drunk. I’m feeling a good buzz. One more drink and I think she’ll be ready to take me back to her place. My hand is on her thigh, stroking soft skin.  She parts her legs to encourage me, sidling closer so my hand shifts higher and is almost touching her panties. My body responds. I want her so bad. I try to imagine what she looks like underneath the white tank top and black skirt. I don’t have to work very hard. She hasn’t left much to the imagination. I’m watching her mouth, wondering what it tastes like, thinking of moving in to take those full crimson lips into mine—when a really large hand clamps down on my shoulder. I tense, instantly ready for a fight. Though, if I’d had my head in the game and not on getting her panties, the guy wouldn’t have ever gotten so close to me in the first place.
I don’t know if he’s her brother or her boyfriend, but he sure looks pissed. His hair is buzzed short. Military fatigues, a black t-shirt, and heavy boots complete his get-up. I’m not intimidated. The dude is clearly a poser.
I shrug the hand off my shoulder easily, twisting around and leaning slightly back to look him square in the eye. “Good evening,” I drawl lazily, knowing it will most likely make him madder. I don’t care about Captain Douche’s feelings, really. He’d trampled three of my last nerves just by touching me.
“Get up,” Captain Douche orders. The smell of alcohol pours off his breath.
I don’t move. “Is there a problem?” My hand is still on the hot girl’s leg. I think her name might be Amber. I’m not so good with names.
“I’ve got a serious problem with you touching my girl.”
Amber smiles at the buzz cut’s declaration of ownership. I guess some girls just need to feel wanted. I clutch her leg a bit tighter. I want her. “Come on, baby. Cool your boots,” Amber says. “We’re just talkin’.”
Captain Douche does not, however, cool his boots. A huge vein bulges in the middle of his forehead. He’s about to explode. And the intimate position of my hand ain’t helping. He grabs Amber’s arm. “Let’s go, Becky. You’re done talking to him.”
Oops. I guess her name isn’t Amber.
Becky half stands, is half dragged to her feet. She’s pouting, but not like she means it. I can tell she’s really enjoying all the attention. It’s the perfect stage for me to bow out. But I’m hot and throbbing and she’s about to leave with Captain Douche, so I know I’m not getting any—at least not tonight. That pisses me off. My training tells me to back off, but I can’t. I can’t back down. I’d like to blame it on the strong territorial instincts that come with having wolf blood course through my veins. Wild wolves battle all the time over good hunting grounds. But that’s not it.
Before I know it, I’ve stood up from my chair. Buzz cut hears the wooden legs scrape against the floor. He stops, turning back to look at me. I meet his stare. A challenge.
He drops Becky’s arm and walks over. Jabbing a finger into my chest, he utters a growl. “You should find something else to look at before I rearrange your face.”
I allow my cockiest grin to ease out. “I think she likes the way I look at her.”
He shoves me. Hard.
I step back, giving up ground to give him confidence. I want the fight.
Two more guys stand, materializing from the shadows. Obviously, they’re with Captain Douche. If I tangle with him, I’ll be at odds with them too.
My uncle is still at the bar. His gaze is cool, intent. I shake my head almost imperceptibly. I’ve got this. He nods. Settles into the bar stool. Anyone who didn’t know him couldn’t tell he’d ever reacted.
Later, I would wonder if he saw the fourth guy leaving the bar. I sure as hell didn’t.


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