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(Available now for only $0.99 from Tiger Dynasty Publishing on Amazon, B&N.com, & SmashWords)

It was a perfect night.

The sort of night when nothing could go wrong.

There, amidst the perfection and embraced in the serenity of the moment, two lovers—finding themselves in a clearing in the woods neighboring a very special stream—found themselves. Tied in both body and mind, their lips and skin collided; making their undying emotions to one another known as intimately as they knew how; their masculine bodies entwined much like the surrounding foliage. As their pleasured moans and breathy grunts shared between them echoed between the lumbering oaks and willows and pines, a symphony of melodic chirps and coos of nature accompanied them, and, with the natural music of their forest—their home—urging them deeper and deeper into each other’s warmth, the two sang as only true lovers could.

With the stars shining through the canopy of trees with an exuberance trumped only by the lovers’ burning passion, a soft breeze kicked up and brought with it the sweet scent of flowers and dew-soaked earth. All around them early autumn leaves and wind-lifted flower petals swirled whimsically in the gentle wind and caressed the pair’s naked skin before continuing on their wayward travels into anywhere.

It had been nearly four years—four human years—and while Venir hated to follow any theory fabricated by the ugly species, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride in what those four years meant with Ujop. Before escaping the humans’ society and finding the happiness in Ujop’s embrace, he had lived as Vincent Baiser—a name that had felt as forced and weighted as his phony human form. However, the aching of the truths of what he was dwelled like a caged animal beneath the surface soon grew too unbearable to ignore, and as traces of his secrets began to seep through the cracks, his peers began to take notice.

Then the day came—the wonderful-yet-wretched day—that Vincent’s classmates caught him peeking too intently in the locker room and he’d found himself bound to a tree with painfully abrasive bungee straps with nothing but his torn boxers to protect him from the harsh winter elements. With no way to protect his body or his heart, he’d hung his head in bitter shame, sweat and snow drenched chestnut hair swaying over his puffy, bloodshot green eyes.

Broken from the inside, he’d had nothing left in his soul to defend himself as he was forced to endure the brutal curses and relentless beatings.

After nearly two hours of lashings and taunts of “faggot” and “ass-reamer”, Vincent’s attackers had grown tired and dispersed, taking back their bungees—explaining they were “too expensive to waste on a queer”—and leaving him nearly naked in the blood stained snow. Though it was hard to believe in hindsight, the rocks and sticks that had left him bruised and broken had done far less damage than their words.

Though his body had survived the onslaught of abuse, his heart had been broken and he’d prayed for death.

But Death refused him.

His parents, a pair of “reformed” therions—what the humans, ever the narrow-minded race, called “werewolves”—that had chosen to deny their nature so that they could live in the “real” world, had forbid him to transform. To them, what proudly lurked inside them was something shameful and ugly; something that kept them from being like every other human and made them stick out like a vulgar growth on an otherwise pristine face. Their dream of becoming invisible was, day by tortured day, pushed on Vincent as the only option, and they’d explained to him each and every day that to let himself succumb to his urges was a sign of disobedience and, moreover, a sin.

A wicked and disgraceful act.

An act that made his mother sob and his father scowl.

An act that forced them to admit that, no matter what they did—no matter what story they wove for the humans—they couldn’t lie to themselves.

An act that would condemn him to solitude.

Despite his parents’ wishes—despite knowing that it would earn him only more hate and harassment—Vincent, feeling that his life could either end beside that tree or begin somewhere beyond it, finally ignored all of the warnings and threats. He’d made the decision to change his fate, and as the sun set on that faithful day, his heart pumped violently, sending a fiery rage through his veins and forcing his true form to surface and he ran.

He ran from his peers.

He ran from the lies.

He ran from the hate.

For nearly two straight days he ran, crossing mile after mile of forest floor and only stopping for rest when his body dropped and refused to follow his commands to rise. He was certain that his journey into the depths of the woods and the depths of his true self would be his final act, and the fantasy of dying in a fleeting moment of freedom sounded better than living out his days as a slave to the humans and their societies. Finally, nearing the end of the second day, he found himself at a partially frozen stream where he knelt to quench his thirst, and as the frigid teeth of the icy waters gnawed at his numbing flesh and insides he was distantly aware that he was no longer alone…

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