CHAPTER TWO - BROTHERS
Five years earlier ...
Damien watched the gravel drive from the second floor bay window of the Cain mansion. He was getting a new brother today.
A brother, right. We're both eighteen, are we going to play toy soldiers out in the garden? Roughhouse in the library? Send spitballs at each other over dinner? Damien snorted. The Cain mansion wasn't that sort of place even if they had been kids.
The mansion had five acres of carefully manicured gardens that were so perfect they almost looked plastic. The whole mansion was like that with its French country ambiance and antique furniture. Cain liked things to be authentic and expensive, but tastefully so. He had built up his monstrous wealth himself, but he wanted to appear like he was old money. Respectability, playing the part of the Lord Bountiful, including adopting Changed boys, was all part of Cain's plan.
But Damien knew the truth.
Cain was ruthless. He would go to any lengths to get what he wanted. The sheen of an honest businessman and family man was only that: a thin layer of gloss that could be easily rubbed away. Cain tried to play the father figure to the Changed he took in, but Damien knew that his foster father was only interested in them for their powers and how he could harness those powers for his own ends.
And I'm the strongest. So far. I think this Jamie kid is supposed to be as powerful as me. Will he be Cain's new favored pet? Damien mused. One of his Changed gifts was what allowed him to be certain of Cain's motivations: Damien could read minds. He knew every dirty secret. Nothing was hidden. But Cain was harder to read than others. Because his mind is so black. Difficult to see the different shades when it's midnight pitch in that brain. Except for the fire-tinted thoughts.
Those were often about beautiful, troubled young men that Cain had a habit of bedding. He did so secretly. He dated women in the public view, because it wouldn't do to have his penchant for fucking abused boys known.
All part of the facade, he sighed.
Oftentimes, Damien felt Cain's fiery thoughts turn towards him. His foster-father knew his gift of reading minds, had used it often in business deals when he negotiated with Damien to tell him the truth.
"Quid pro quo," Cain would say. "I'll give you something you want in return for telling me my competitors' plans."
Damien had gotten rid of his curfew, acquired a new shiny convertible, buckets of spending money, and other perks in return for information that was not his, but that he could easily acquire by violating the privacy of any mind he wished. So when Cain lusted after him in his presence, Damien realized that his foster father wanted him to know. Cain would give him a subtle smile, his handsome face turned towards Damien, black eyes hooded as he sent images of them in bed together. The images were of Cain's muscular body on top of Damien's slender, pale form with the boy's legs wrapped around Cain's waist.
"Feeling lonely, Cain?" Damien would ask with a quirk of one eyebrow when those thoughts were projected to him. He always pretended not to care about Cain's desires, that he didn't feel a mixture of arousal and dread in that order at the thought of the older man taking him to bed.
"How can I ever be lonely, Damien, when I have all you boys with me?" Cain would respond with a false innocent tilt of his head.
Damien would then go driving for hours. He needed the wind in his hair. He would put down the top of his convertible even in winter. He'd crank the heat and the seat heaters to stop from himself from freezing to death and just drive down the winding roads outside of Horizon's Edge. Somehow he felt cleaner, calmer afterward. It was a perverse game between them. But compared to being out on the street or in the system, the Cain household was paradise.
His new brother's name was Jamie. He was Changed like Damien. His power had something to do with electricity. Cain had been vague about it, but excited. His thoughts about Jamie were tinged blue and white, almost hot to Damien's mind-touch.
And the boy's supposed to be beautiful. Jesus, another one for Cain to enjoy, Damien thought. He had five other "brothers" and he was sure that at least some of them were or had slept with Cain. But unlike Damien, they were seemingly eager to get into their foster father's arms. Would this Jamie be like them?
Damien sat up straighter as he heard the crunch of the Maybach's tires on the gravel driveway. The black, sleek vehicle slowed and stopped in front of the mansion. His gray-blue eyes fixed on the back door to the Maybach. Jeffrey Dawes, the chauffeur exited the vehicle. His black suit, hat and driver's gloves made him look like a large black scarecrow. Jeffrey opened the back door.
A jeaned leg was the first thing that Damien saw. A long, muscular leg in pale denim. Damien pressed his nose against the glass. Next, he saw a shock of golden hair falling down across Jamie's tanned forehead. The other boy brushed that hair out of his bright, intelligent blue eyes. High cheekbones clad in golden skin with a flush of pinkness across the nose and cheeks gave Jamie an almost pretty appearance though the rest of him was all male. He had broad shoulders, narrow waist and hips, and powerful-looking limbs. Damien wetted his lips unconsciously. Other than jeans, the other boy had on a plaid work shirt with a white t-shirt underneath. Neither looked to be tucked in. Worn brown boots, half untied, completed his ensemble. His clothing couldn't be more different than Damien's.
Damien preferred black. Everything black. Jeans, high-necked cashmere sweaters and boots. His spiked black hair and pale skin with large dark eyes made certain people think he was goth or trying to be a vampire. If they knew all my powers they'd wish I was one of those things. For Damien dressed in dark colors so that he matched the shadows that sometimes obeyed his will. When I'm angry. Then they do whatever I want so long as it's to hurt someone.
But he wasn't angry now. He was intrigued and slightly aroused. This golden Adonis was going to be his new "brother" which would mean plenty of opportunities to see said Adonis sans clothes. He had known he liked men forever it seemed. He'd bedded as many as he could with abandon sometimes trading sex for a place to sleep or a meal before he lived in the rarified Cain world. It wasn't until foster father that he found someone who both attracted and repelled him at the same time enough that he wouldn't do the deed.
One come hither look from me and Cain would be at my bedroom door. But then I lose power over him and he gains over me. So it's not going to happen, Damien thought. But I don't have any of those problems with my "brother" here.
Jamie stood there shifting from foot to foot. His eyes were wide as he took in the mansion's front. Damien didn't remember being so wide-eyed at Cain's conspicuous wealth, but he remembered how he'd felt when he caught sight of the place that was to be his new home: shocked, uncertain and disbelieving. Too good to be true. Where's the catch? And there had been of course. Many catches. He had learned them all in time. But Damien had hidden his reactions as life had taught him to be cautious. Damien believed that all the Changed had learned that the hard way.
But not him, Damien thought. All of Jamie's emotions were written on his face. A mixture of joy, fear and uncertainty. His innocence must be fake. Cleverly created to mislead people. No one is as charmingly innocent as Jamie seems. Well, one way to find out. Let's see what secrets are behind that pretty face.
Damien took a deep breath and emptied his own mind. Normally, to get a good read on someone he needed to physically touch them, but he could catch surface thoughts so long as he was within physical sight of the person. He reached for Jamie's mind. The other boy suddenly looked up at Damien directly. Damien jerked back. His concentration was lost. Jamie continued to stare up at the window. Damien pulled at the neck of his sweater. He felt exposed. Seen.
He felt me try to look into his mind. He knew what I was doing, Damien thought and a thrill of unease went through him. His powers kept him safe from the unsavory intentions of others. Forearmed is forewarned. What if he couldn't read Jamie at all?
He heard the front doors to the mansion open. He was tempted to stay up on the second floor and brood about it, but he knew that was foolish. He had to meet this Jamie and find out the extent of his abilities to sense or even block him from accessing his thoughts. Putting on a small smile that a lot of people called his I-don't-give-a-shit smile on his lips, he loped down the stairs to the first floor.
Jamie looked more out of place in the foyer than he had outside. His gaze scanned the Louis XIV chairs, the Monet, and the ancient tapestry that adorned the front hallway. Even the elaborately designed parquet floor seemed to amaze the other boy. But as soon as Damien was halfway down the stairs, even though he moved almost silently, Jamie's gaze jumped to him. Damien nearly faltered as those inquisitive blue eyes. But then the boy was smiling at him. A blinding grin. Jamie stepped away from the dark green gunnysack at his feet, which probably contained all his worldly possessions, and stretched out his hand towards Damien.
"Hey! I'm Jamie Desmond," the other boy said.
"Cain actually. You're Jamie Cain," Damien corrected softly as he loosely gripped Jamie's hand.
That smile dimmed for half a second. "Yeah, I guess you're right. Going to take some getting used to."
"Indeed," Damien agreed. Jamie's hand was warm in his. He could feel calluses from hard honest labor. Something that Damien avoided eagerly. He expected a blast of thoughts from the contact, but there was nothing. Silence. None of Jamie's thoughts came through.
He can block me completely. The question is whether he's doing it consciously or not. That tingle of unease from earlier was now a full-blown wave.
"So what's your name?" Jamie asked, rocking back and forth on his feet, with his hands behind his back. He looked like a little boy eager to play.
Damien tried not to laugh. He was jaded by life and this other boy acted like he had been just let out of a cellophane bag to experience the world for the first time.
"Damien," he replied. "I'm Damien. Yes, like in the Omen." He had gotten that crack a bunch of times about him looking like the Devil's son with all the black.
Jamie cocked his head to the side, his brow furrowed with confusion. "I'm sorry, but I don't know what the Omen is."
"The movie? About the Devil's son?" When Jamie continued to look at him blankly, Damien raised his hands as if in defeat. "Don't worry about it. It isn't important. I'm glad that -- that you don't know what it is." He clamped his mouth shut after those last words leaked out. He didn't care if people thought he was weird. He reveled in his difference. So what if this strange country hick found him odd?
Jamie was suddenly squeezing Damien's right bicep. "Since it clearly upsets you, I'm glad I don't either."
Damien stared at him silently for a moment. He looked down at that hand touching him. Jamie squeezed him again before gently releasing him. "I'll show you to your room. It's next to mine." Damien hadn't meant to say that either.
Jamie nodded eagerly and grabbed his bag. He was like an overgrown puppy frisking to be taken for a walk as he rushed back over to Damien's side. The truth was that Jamie's room wasn't next to Damien's. Jamie could pick any room. Damien normally kept any other "brothers" from taking rooms near his. He had practically a whole wing to himself. It was an eccentricity that Cain allowed him that he didn't the others. It hadn't exactly endeared the others to Damien. It was just another reason to set him apart and not be friendly. And, of course, Damien didn't care.
So why the fuck did I say his room was by mine? He's going to be underfoot all the time! Damien slanted a glance at the boy beside him. Jamie had slung the strap of his bag across his body. It pulled his t-shirt and button-down to the side, revealing a broad swath of tanned skin. Damien's hands itched to touch that velvety flesh, but he clenched them into fists. He doubted that this bubble boy would welcome his touch. Most boys of Jamie's type were teases in Damien's mind. They were friendly and beautiful, flaunting themselves, but when you offered to take what they were offering, they acted like they never intended to offer anything at all.
"So this is quite a place, isn't it?" Jamie asked.
"It's like living in a museum or something. Was that picture downstairs real?" he asked.
"Real as in really existing? Or an original?" Damien asked archly. When Jamie's shoulders hunched in embarrassment, he felt a wash of shame. "It's an original, yes. Sorry, I have ... I have a bit of a sharp tongue on me." His own shoulders hunched slightly as he uttered the last. Is Jamie's power to keep me opening my mouth?
Jamie gave him a soft smile. "It's okay. My sister used her wit to defend herself, too."
"Your sister?" Damien asked, surprised that Jamie wasn't thrown out on the streets as soon as he showed signed of being Changed, which usually appeared as early as five or six years old, but didn't truly develop until puberty.
Jamie ducked his head. "Yeah, Jessica. She is -- was real smart and quick-witted. She always used that to attack others before they attacked her."
"She died? Was she Changed, too?" Damien asked.
The other boy's face creased for a moment. "Yeah. My parents tried to protect us. Keep us safe. But ... but they couldn't do it in the end."
Damien felt something like jealousy spike through him as much as he felt disdain. Who needed family? Especially family who couldn't even do the most basic things like keep their kids safe? He could see by the slump of the boy's body that Jamie didn't want to talk about it anymore. And Damien was happy to let it go. Or so he told himself.
They had made it up the staircase to the second floor. The floor was dark wood with a crimson runner detailed with vines along the center. There were a few delicate tables with bowls of fruit or flowers in the center. Jamie's eyes widened and he licked his lips at the bowl of peaches. Damien grasped one and held it out to Jamie.
"Eat it," Damien said. His voice sounded almost husky. The peach's flesh was firm. The fuzz tickled his palm. The scent of it perfumed the air. He expected Jamie to take it from his hand and eat it. What he did not expect was what happened.
"Really? Thanks!" Jamie dipped his head down and took a bit out of the peach. Juice gushed down onto Damien's fingers and dripped onto the carpet. "Sorry!" Damien was going to shake the liquid off onto the carpet when Jamie grasped his hand. "Don't waste it!"
Damien held his breath as he felt the lave of Jamie's tongue along his fingers. His cock twitched as Jamie licked him clean. The other boy's cheeks were bright red. A dribble of juice was running down his chin.
"I -- I hope that was okay. Maybe a little weird. I hope I didn't -- didn't make you uncomfortable. The peach it was just so sweet and -- and it's been so long since I had fresh fruit," Jamie babbled. He was growing brighter red by the second.
"It's fine," Damien said softly. His hand was still outstretched towards him. He felt a sense of unreality. The boy had just licked his fingers clean in a manner that made him hard as a rock. He knew his erection was evident. It had been done so innocently and sweetly that it felt wrong to act on it. "That's your room."
Jamie turned to look at the open sunlit doorway. But his gaze was swinging to the doorway beside it. The one to Damien's room. "And that's yours?"
"Yes," Damien managed to get out.
Jamie's face was completely scarlet now, his head ducked down, as he looked up at Damien through his lush lashes. "And we're the only two over here?"
"We are." Damien's mouth was dry.
"Good," the other boy whispered. "That means I'll have more time alone with you so we can ... get to know one another."
"We're brothers," Damien said slowly. "We should be close."
"Yeah, brothers," Jamie responded, but his eyes held a light that said something far different.