Read the first chapter of Purple Haze!

Purple Haze releases in less than three weeks! (Coming your way 05.10.19) In this second installment of my Aliens in New York series, Dillon and Lang face their biggest challenge yet: themselves. (And a few other aliens…)

Read on for the first chapter and preorder now at Amazon!

Chapter One

Constellation nightclub was not Lang’s ideal environment. The place teemed with people and the buzz of dozens of conversations—none of which he could follow over the vigorous music. The lights playing across the dance floor were almost too bright for his sensitive retinas, and the pattern they made didn’t always match the music. Lang kept trying to find the beat, only to have the lights yank him off course.

But every time he caught the happiness shining from Dillon’s face, the noise and confusion faded into the background.

Dillon danced next to him, eyes closed, chin tilted up. His purple hair appeared black under the lights and was long enough to hide his face in a rhythmic sweep as he dropped his chin and swayed. Dillon turned, lifted his head again, and… shimmied. That might be the right word. His legs and feet shuffled left, his hips jutted right. The movement was more poetic than that, though. Dillon flowed with the music, his lanky frame rippling with energy.

Dillon was the beat, and he was beautiful.

Six months ago, Dillon had been somewhat innocent of his true origins. The neglected child of a Wren scout, Dillon had come to New York to collect an inheritance. A week later, he discovered the grandfather he adored had actually been his father—and an alien from another solar system. He’d discovered there were possibly more aliens in New York than truths, and Lang was one of them.

Six months ago, Lang had been a lonely Skov scout, bred and trained for the task of preparing a new home for his clan. He’d not heard from his people in nearly eight years when he, too, discovered the city was brimming with aliens—enemies and allies—and a plot to displace him and his clan forever. Dillon had been the only one who cared enough to help him fight back.

The very least Lang could do in return was try to enjoy their night out. Find the joy in the music that Dillon did.

Sometimes, though, Lang wondered if he would ever be enough for the bright spark that was Dillon Lee. If their meeting hadn’t put Dillon squarely on the path to disappointment. He shook his head. Tonight was not a night for such thoughts.

Dillon captured Lang’s hand and gave his fingers a squeeze. “Dance with me!” he shouted over the music.

Lang tried again to find the beat. To ignore the disparate waves of sound and color, the conversations that had nothing to do with him.

Dillon bent close to Lang’s ear. “Pretend it’s just you and me.”

Still holding his hand, Dillon began to sway again, the beat snaking through his limbs in a way that appeared completely natural—as though he’d been born to dance. Lang let the rhythm travel from Dillon’s hand to his. Closed his eyes and waited for the beat to move through his skin and infect his blood.

It wasn’t that Lang didn’t want to do this. He didn’t want to be awkward, either.

He wanted to have a good time… to move, to feel free in the way only music and sex seemed to allow.

Lang’s hand jerked. The driving beat pushed into his arm. His hand jerked again, matching the notes skipping across his shoulders and down the other side of his body. Lang let his posture soften and relaxed his torso. Swayed—slower than the beat, but still in time. Then it was simply a matter of jumping in, as one might when skipping into a turning jump rope. Waiting, watching. In his mind, he pictured the high-low arc, paired it with the tempo of the music, and jumped.

Then he was dancing.

Stars, he was dancing!

A high swept through him—a sense of euphoria that could only come from being synchronized with another being. Opening his eyes, Lang looked for Dillon, which wasn’t as easy as following the end of his hand. Around them, other dancers swayed in and out, turned and jumped. Lang tugged and Dillon came in close. Elation and a smile lit his face. Lang angled forward in, waited for the right moment, and managed a passing kiss. Dillon moved into his arms and grinned.

Lang laughed, the sound jerking free of his lungs with a gasp of surprise. Their hips bumped together, and Lang rebounded, nudged back a step. After tugging his hand free, Lang traced his palms over his lover’s hips and up to his ribs, following the contours of a body he’d spent months exploring. He arched a thumb toward Dillon’s chest, flicking the small shadow beneath his shirt. The bar threaded through Dillon’s nipple. Lang tilted his head to kiss his lover’s neck. With Dillon’s hips coming into regular contact with his own, the dance began to feel less like work and more like sex.

Dillon slid his hands around Lang’s back, his palms hot through the cotton of Lang’s shirt, and held him loosely, allowing them to find their own way to express themselves while moving together. Flexing his fingers over the back of Dillon’s hip, Lang gripped his ass. As Dillon moved into him, the hardness at his groin pressed against Lang.

Stars, yes.

Leaning in, Lang captured Dillon’s mouth and immediately established dominance over it, setting the pace of their kiss—timing it to their dance. Licking, thrusting with his tongue, teasing Dillon to the point of an audible moan.

Then the music changed subtly, a new song with a similar beat, and the shift was enough to jostle Lang out of the kiss. Growling, he nudged Dillon backward, one step, and another. He tilted his chin down and nodded, indicating Dillon should keep moving. That they would be moving, leaving the dance floor to explore the shapes their mouths made together, and this aching hardness between them.

With a wicked smile, Dillon complied.

space ship

It had taken a little convincing to get Lang out on New Year’s Eve. Dillon had expected that. What he hadn’t expected was Lang’s swift acquiescence. Even after three refusals, it had seemed too easily given. So, Dillon had tried to make the night work for him—because when Lang was happy, Dillon was happy.

So far, so good.

Dillon allowed Lang to push him through the pulse of the dance floor to the edge, almost stumbling as his feet moved from a hard surface to carpet. He walked backward, knowing Lang would nudge him out of the way of other people if need be. The closest wall wasn’t far. When his back met the hard surface, Dillon reeled Lang in.

He closed his eyes and lifted his chin, preparing for a kiss that would, without a doubt, consume him… and nothing but air met his mouth. Dillon opened his eyes and cursed softly at the sight of Josh Rosen’s smiling face.

Dillon leveled his chin. “Love you, Josh, I do, but…”

Josh laughed and moved aside to reveal an amused Lang. Josh’s husband, Micah, stood nearby, looking about as uncomfortable as Lang had a short while ago. Dillon gave Josh a brief hug and shook Micah’s hand.

“C’mon.” Josh waved toward the other side of the club. “We’ve… invited… VIP. We’ll… in there.”

“What?” Dillon shouted.

Josh pointed at the main bar and started pushing through the crowd.

Josh and Micah were a part of Lang’s select group of friends. Over the past few months, Dillon had gotten to know them and had been somewhat surprised to find he liked them. A lot. Micah was a surgeon, meaning Dillon had very little in common with him. But Micah’s quiet and reticent manner often reminded him of Lang. It was clear why the two men were friends. Josh was different. Josh had the soul of an artist, and when Dillon had asked for help turning his inheritance into something worthwhile, Josh had gotten more involved than either of them had anticipated. He was now Dillon’s partner in a dream they both shared—opening an art school in New York City.

Josh had been the one to extend the invitation to celebrate New Year’s Eve out tonight.

“Want to spend midnight with Josh and Micah?” Dillon asked Lang.

“How about if we have a glass of champagne, shake a few hands, and then go home and finish that kiss.”

Dillon growled softly. “And maybe start another one.”

Lang’s answering grin had a predatory edge to it. Slitting his eyes against the bright lights revolving over their heads, Dillon leaned in. The kiss was disappointingly short, but he didn’t complain as Lang took his hand and began threading his way through the sea of bodies.

The VIP area was situated behind the bar, hinted at by an expanse of dark glass that acted as a long, black mirror. It was quiet inside—the intensity of the music cut by three quarters—and the lack of throbbing bass notes roared inside Dillon’s ears. His eyes weren’t doing much better. Dillon blinked and waited for his senses to calm.

“Just breathe. Everything will settle in a moment.” Lang still held his hand, and Dillon drew comfort from his touch and the soft words that crested the waves of non-sound battering his senses.

The moment passed, and the storm calmed. Dillon opened his eyes to a dimly lit space. The club music continued to pound through the floor, and light continued to flash against the glass at regular intervals, making the weird, cottony quiet inside the lounge weirder.

It had taken Dillon a while to adjust to his heightened senses. Now, half a year after Lang had saved his life with an infusion of alien repair cells, Dillon had learned how to tune out certain sounds (necessary in the cacophony of midtown Manhattan) as well as the constant tingle of air against his skin, the thrum of his own pulse—and sometimes Lang’s—and the deeply disturbing odor of humanity. Taste, he left unfiltered for the most part, but sight was one of the senses he kept on lockdown. His upgraded eyes were very sensitive to light. Thankfully, the glass enclosing the VIP lounge was tinted. Outside, the miasma of human sweat and exertion hovering over the dance floor had been doing the job almost well enough. A headache tomorrow would be worth his revelry tonight.

“Lang!” a man called out, beckoning Lang toward the far corner of the lounge.

A small crowd of Josh and Micah’s friends crowded one end of the bar. Dillon recognized some of them as he shook hands. Over the murmur of conversation, he caught the occasional whisper of a name as he greeted those he was less familiar with, as though someone stood by his ear, giving him pertinent details. This guy was a retired firefighter, the woman in the sparkly blue dress a banker. They had kids, and she had three dogs and a very old cat. He was tired tonight—a limp handshake and tension around the eyes. Already had too much champagne. Yep, that was a giggle and a burp.

The faces formed a blur, one both aural and visual. When Dillon started imagining he could taste what everyone had had to drink, he stepped back, seeking another moment of quietude. An anxious prickle raced up and down his arms, raising hair and leaving him hot and cold at the same time. Was he getting sick? He put a hand to his forehead and determined only that he was a sweaty, greasy mess.

Maybe something cool to drink would wash away the taste of everyone’s name—and whatever else was going on in his tangled thoughts. Dillon approached the bar. Without waiting for him to order, the barman delivered a wink and a flute of pale and sparkling liquid. Water would probably be better. Dillon raised the glass of champagne to his lips and smiled as bubbles leaped from the surface to tickle his skin. He took a sip, and the world settled again.

He tipped his glass toward the barman, who was cute in a uniformed-to-serve kind of way. “Happy New Year.”

“You, too.”

Dillon grabbed another flute from those the barman was setting up for midnight and turned to find Lang—who was right behind him.

“Everything okay?”

Dillon held out the extra glass. “Is now!”

Lang accepted the champagne and clinked the edge of his flute to Dillon’s. “Bottom’s up.” His grin communicated that he thought he was being funny. He was, in a completely awkward, cute, and Lang kind of way.

“When we get home,” Dillon promised. He drained his champagne and reached for another. If he managed a glass a minute, he might feel a buzz when the New Year started—the repair cells in his blood were too efficient to allow him to get drunk in a leisurely fashion. Dillon didn’t need the help, though. He already felt high—the battering his senses were taking notwithstanding.

He’d danced with Lang. He’d be going home with Lang.

Dillon couldn’t wait to see where the New Year would take them. This time last year, he’d been heading toward unemployment and had pretty much decided he’d never find someone to love. Just look at him now. He’d moved in with Lang right after Thanksgiving—when construction at his own place reached peak messiness. He was converting the property his father had left him into Park Arts. He and Josh would offer programs for the very old, the very young, and some in between. Dillon couldn’t wait to become involved with his students. He loved mentoring the young and listening to the old. Being helpful. Being needed and necessary.

Beyond that, he had Lang—his very own shy, adorkable, endearingly attentive, frighteningly intelligent, quirky, beautiful, three-fingered alien.

Outside the lounge, the countdown began, the lights around the dance floor strobing in time to the many voices calling out. Dillon grinned at Lang, filled with the combined seriousness and silliness of the moment. Lang’s expression held the same mixture, and Dillon felt their connection anew. He and Lang could not be more different, alien DNA aside. It was what they had in common that bound them—the belief they were always going to be a step outside ordinary, and the delight of finding another person out there like them.

The club erupted into cheers and yells. Dillon leaned in to kiss Lang and smiled as Lang curled a hand around the back of his neck, holding him close. Lang didn’t deepen the kiss. He breathed into the space between them, soft sounds of lust and affection. Then he touched his lips to Dillon’s again. Lightly. Sweetly. Possessively.

They hadn’t exchanged those three little words yet. But in moments like these—when he and Lang were wrapped in a soundproof bubble separating them from the rest of the world, when Dillon felt as though he could exist on the breath from Lang’s lips alone—a word like love would be inadequate.

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