The club is three miles out of Beacon Hills and carefully hidden off the freeway next to a motel and a truck stop. Despite the less-than-ideal location, it’s a nice place—clean, well-populated, and brimming with the smoky, crackling friendliness that all the best BDSM clubs seem to produce.
Ken and Noshiko never seek out the clubs and bars as a dynamic couple—they show up arm-in-arm, eyes cool and bodies open, surveying the dark room’s offerings. No collars, no leather, nothing marking them as anything but a married couple out to have a good time. They used to go for the whole show, they dressed up and used their safe-words, but it lost its appeal long ago. They didn’t like to show each other off, they just liked to savor their bond, and that could be done in the safe confines of their bedroom.
They go to the bars for something else completely.
“What about her?” Noshiko nods towards a pretty young woman, dark skin shining with sweat as she dances with friends.
Ken shakes his head. “She’s a bit too young for my taste, my love.” He catches the eye of a man in tight jeans, a little grey around the temples, strong and handsome. “What do you think of him?”
Noshiko considers for a moment before shaking her head. “I don’t think he’s looking to submit tonight.”
They sit at the bar in companionable silence. The past few months have been interesting to say the least—moving to Beacon Hills, getting Kira started at the high school, Ken settling into his new job. They always go out to decompress, even if they don’t find a third.
Almost simultaneously, they look up to see a young man down the bar, nursing a beer with his shoulders hunched. He’s thin but definitely strong, hair corn-silk blonde, face striking and serious, but he looks nervous, like he’s a on a hair-trigger. Ken and Noshiko glance at each other, communicating without thinking.
“He’s not ready for us yet,” Noshiko says with a sly smile, squeezing her husband’s leg. “We’ll come back for him, though.”
Melissa tugs the soft blankets on her bed further up her chest, snuggling into the body-warm material. It’s only early spring so the air coming through the window is still cool, the room chilly, and she tries to sleep but her body refuses. She finally sits up, rubbing her tired eyes, and says into the quiet room, “Jordan, are you sure you’re okay with this?”
There’s a moment of quiet and Melissa fights the urge to repeat herself. She’s been telling herself to give Jordan time, let him come into things on his own, but she finds that slipping back into the dominant position is just a little too easy for her. Her ex-husband always loved it—something he was ashamed of—and she loved it in return. But Jordan is new, and they’ve only been together like this for a month.
“I’m definitely okay with this,” Jordan finally says. “Are you?”
Melissa flicks on the bedside lamp. When she looks across the room to the floor at the end of her bed, her breath catches in her throat. Jordan hasn’t moved a muscle since following Melissa’s order—he’s lying on his stomach on the floor, arms curled under his head as a pillow, skin bare to the room. They both came multiple times hours before, but Melissa knows he’s still hard, his cock trapped between his stomach and the carpet, probably a bit painful. He could roll to his side, find some relief, curl in on himself, but that isn’t what Melissa asked him to do.
“God,” Melissa says under her breath, just staring at her boy, her handsome man who is so much older and wiser than he looks, whose youth has afforded him none of the naiveté she had at that age before marrying and having Scott. “I never thought I’d say this, but Jordan, you’re perfect.”
Almost instantly, Jordan relaxes, the muscles in his long legs and strong arms softening. He’s flushed pink all over, the chill never affecting him—something they still can’t explain. “You don’t have to say that.”
Melissa scoffs, reclining back on her pillows. “We talked about lying. About how we don’t do it. Ever.” There’s something undeniably delicious and dirty about the situation that she craves and fears in equal measure—she’s almost twenty years older than him, has seen different parts of the world and experienced different things. She’s also done this before and Jordan definitely hasn’t.
Jordan blinks slowly, obviously deep into subspace, something Melissa has been working on with him. He rarely allows it, fights it too hard until he’s coiled with tension and frustration, but now, he looks like he belongs right where he is on her bedroom floor, his eyes glowing a faint and otherworldly yellow in the dim light.
Melissa arches an eyebrow. “Would I ever lie to you, Jordan?”
Jordan looks up at her and after a moment, he allows himself a smile, a tiny thing that has Melissa grinning in bed. “No. No, you wouldn’t lie to me, Melissa.”
The next morning, they wake refreshed and calm, and by ten in the morning, they’re both dressed and sitting in the kitchen, Jordan cross-legged on the linoleum floor. He’s got a cup of coffee at his knee, the paper spread out before him, Melissa sitting above him and handing him bites of food.
“There’s been another attack down by the lake,” Jordan says, brow furrowed as he reads. “I mean, I heard about it, but it wasn’t my case. They still don’t know what it is.”
Melissa nods. “I got the victim in the ER. Thank god she lived…the first two were grown adults, but this girl was only six.” Kids are always still hard for her, and she’s having a hard time shaking this specific kid who came in with a broken collarbone and sprained ankle, still gasping for breath after almost drowning in the creek off the Beacon Hills Preserve.
Jordan glances up. “I know this is the last thing you want to hear, but I think this might be…beyond our expertise.”
It isn’t a shock to Melissa…after the alpha pack, the Nemeton, and the oni, nothing can surprise her anymore. “Even if it’s something supernatural, Scott and the pack are out of town at Lydia’s cabin. I don’t want to call them back. Lord knows they deserve a break.”
Jordan thinks for a moment, sipping at his coffee. “We could do it. Go check it out.”
Melissa looks at him for a moment, waiting for the punchline. When she doesn’t get it, she laughs anyways. “Jordan, I’m not Supernatural Nancy Drew. I can handle blood and broken bones, not the creature from the black lagoon.” She sits back, looking down at her boy with an arched eyebrow. “And I’m not exactly thrilled about you running out there to investigate. After all, we still don’t know what you even are.”
Setting his cup of coffee down, Jordan eases up on his knees and nudges between Melissa’s legs, looking up at her with hooded eyes. “That’s why I’m not going in alone. Nobody is cooler under pressure than you. I want you there with me.”
Melissa softens a bit, carding her fingers through Jordan’s hair. She thinks about going out to coffee with Noshiko the day before, talking about the things they wanted, the things they needed. Talking about bravery and boundaries and trying new things. And after all, nobody knew more about mythology than the Yukimura family. “I’ll go with you, but only if Ken and Noshiko come along.”
Jordan’s eyes brighten for a moment and he presses a kiss to Melissa’s knee. “This is going to be a good weekend,” he says.
“I think so,” Melissa agrees with a smile, pulling Jordan up for a kiss.
“Okay, I know you’re a powerful kitsune and everything and I trust you, I totally do, but do you really think this is a great idea?” Kira sits at the edge of the bed, worrying her hands hard enough Noshiko expects a light bulb to explode any second.
Noshiko just rolls her eyes and kisses Kira’s cheek. “You need to relax, sweetheart. Your father and I can take care of ourselves, you know.” She zips her small suitcase, filled with only the weekend essentials for a short camping trip in the Beacon Hills Preserve.
Kira huffs out a sigh and heads to her mother’s closet where she sheepishly pulls out her sheathed katana, offering it in her cupped palms. “Fine, but will you please take this? It would make me feel a lot better.”
As she takes the blade, Noshiko feels an old rush of power slide through her body and sighs in contentment. “Of course I’ll take it. Only if you promise to stay with your friends this weekend and not come snooping in the woods.”
“Your mother and I will be snuggling in a cabin, Kira, so I doubt you’ll want to stumble across that anyways,” Ken says cheerfully as he comes into the room, clapping Kira on the shoulder. He leans over and kisses his wife on the cheek, ignoring his daughter’s disturbed expression.
Kira shakes her head like she’s trying to will away the image. “I have something for you, Dad. Brett asked Satomi if she had anything on water monsters, but she only found this.” She handed Ken a thin, translated book.
Ken took it and flipped it open, laughing as he read. “Issie, the saurian lake monster of Lake Ikeda.” He glanced up at his smiling daughter. “I take it he’s formally acquainted with Nessie?”
“Supposedly,” Kira says, thinking about Satomi’s sly smile when she offered Kira the book.
Noshiko glances over Ken’s shoulder at the book. “Oh, he looks cute. Nothing like what could’ve hurt these people.”
Kira furrows her brow, looking between her parents. “Mom, what do you think this is?”
Noshiko avoids Kira’s eyes and hauls her suitcase off the bed, ready to begin the weekend. “I have no idea, but I hope we’ll find out.”
Ken and Noshiko drive to the cabin an hour before nightfall, fingers tangled across the center console in the car. “Do you think he’s ready for us now?” Ken doesn’t have to specify who he’s talking about. Noshiko spoke with Melissa the night before and talked about what the weekend might bring.
“I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see,” Noshiko says, but she has a good feeling.
The night creeps up on them quickly, the sun fading beneath the trees and heralding the buzzing insects and cool breeze. Jordan has the Sheriff on call, just in case, but he’s confident that Ken, Noshiko, and Melissa will prove his help unneeded. They make a formidable team. If a nurse, a soldier, a historian, and an ancient kitsune can’t figure out what is terrorizing Beacon Hills together, he’s not sure who can, especially with the pack out of town.
While Melissa assists Noshiko in viewing the crime scene photos—a gruesome collage of drowned, bloated bodies—to see what they’re dealing with, Jordan and Ken walk the perimeter of the lake. The water is eerily still and calm, hardly betraying a ripple or splash, and Jordan can’t imagine anything moving beneath the surface, nonetheless a vicious monster. Ken walks slow and measured, his steps even and eyes open. He’s an anomaly to Jordan still, easy to read in his affability and poise but difficult to crack in regards to anything deeper, handsome and confident but down-to-earth. Jordan catches himself watching Ken’s face instead of watching the lake.
“We saw you once,” Ken says, breaking the comfortable silence with ease. “At the specialty club out of town.”
Jordan doesn’t miss a step. “I remember that. You’re a hard couple to miss.” With Noshiko’s icy beauty and Ken’s arresting smile, Jordan can’t fathom how anyone could forget them. “I wish I knew you, then. I might’ve said hello.”
Ken smiles. “No offense, Jordan, but you looked like you weren’t in the state of mind to say anything to anyone. I never saw someone look so nervous at a club before.”
“It was my first time,” Jordan admits, a flush crawling to his face. He shivers gently, the cool air seeping through his jacket. “I found out I’m not really meant for the club life.”
“And have you figured out what you’re meant for yet?”
Jordan shrugs. He thinks about Melissa’s warm brown eyes, her firm hands, the small smile she allows him when he’s pleased her. “I think I’m getting there.” A frog splashes into the lake next to them, startling a laugh out of them both. As they continue walking, Jordan realizes with alarm that somehow, Ken’s warm leather jacket has found its way across his shoulders—he has no idea how Ken did it without him noticing, how he realized he was cold…just how. He opened his mouth to ask, but decided against it. “May I ask you a personal question?”
“Yes,” Ken says, no pause in his voice.
“Are you, uh…when you go the clubs…”
“My wife and I both consider ourselves switches. Sometimes I submit to her, sometimes she submits to me. And sometimes, we like to find someone to submit to both of us.”
This sends a rush of warmth down Jordan’s spine, pooling in his groin. He thinks about being at their mercy, in front of their knowing eyes, these two people who fascinate and perplex him.
Right as he’s about to ask further, ask what it would be like to have that with him, something arcs out of the water next to them with a wet roar, pulling Ken down the bank and into the lake with a dreadful shriek.
Then there’s a lot more splashing and a lot less talking.
Noshiko slams the cabin door hard enough for it to rattle on the hinges and presses her back to it, locking the four of them in the room. The air is heavy with the stench of lake water and blood—a thick blood, cruel and animal, and thankfully not their own. “Is everyone okay?”
She’s met with a chorus of nods—Melissa shaky but alert, Jordan wide-eyed and steely, Ken shaken and soaked and practically grinning with excitement. “I believe you owe me twenty bucks, my love.”
Noshiko rolls her eyes and loosens her grip on the katana—it’s still dripping with the lake monster’s blood, and she takes solace that the creature is floating slowly to the bottom of the lake, it’s vicious, mischief-making throat cut from one side to the other. “Of all things, the kappa. Beacon Hills is becoming more and more unoriginal.”
“At least it wasn’t Issie,” Ken says dryly, sitting down on the cabin floor, exhausted from the run back to the cabin.
Jordan and Melissa just stare at them, bewildered.
“Wait, did you know what we were going after?” Jordan looks more surprised than hurt, but there’s a sharpness to his words.
“No, but we had our guesses,” Ken said, gesturing for Jordan to join him on the floor. Melissa disappears into the bathroom to grab towels and when she comes back, Ken starts drying Jordan’s hair, their bodies working in tired sync. “You must know we’ve seen our share of mythical creatures, dear boy, and they rarely turn out to be as sociable as werewolves.”
“This is insane,” Melissa says with a laugh, slumping onto the towel-covered couch. Noshiko sits on the arm of the sofa and wraps an arm around Melissa’s shoulders, pulling her close. “You just killed a lake monster with a sword. What’s it called again?”
“A kappa,” Noshiko says, sharing a knowing glance with Ken. “It’s a yōkai, part of a supernatural class of Japanese monsters. They’re known to be tricksters, but unlike kitsunes, they’re usually after blood.”
Everyone sits in quiet for a moment, still catching their breath. Noshiko cleans her blade with a towel, the kappa’s blood a sticky black goo. It was a beastly thing, slimy and monstrous and ugly to boot. She knows Ken would’ve liked to observe it a bit more, but it’s hard to observe when you’re being yanked to the bottom of a lake.
“I have to admit,” Melissa says, leaning into Noshiko’s warmth, “you looked pretty hot with that sword.”
That’s all it takes to ease the tension from the room. They go about stripping off their wet clothes and changing. Jordan builds a fire and Ken gets the woodstove burning so they can make something to eat while Melissa and Noshiko take a warm shower. By the time midnight rolls around, they’re all curled in the living room, warm and tired.
“You were all amazing,” Jordan says softly, face glowing in the firelight. “Noshiko, you killed that thing without even flinching. Ken, you were never afraid, you just wanted to know what the hell that thing was. And Melissa…” his eyes soften and he squeezes her hand. “You saved Ken’s life. I mean, I know CPR, but you’re always just so calm and ready for whatever, and…”
“You brought us here, Jordan,” Melissa says.
“You’re the amazing one,” Noshiko says, eyes still trained on the fire.
They all share a look, full of heat and trust, and then their night begins.
“I…I still don’t know what to do,” Jordan says, looking to Melissa, then to Ken and Noshiko. He’s shaking a little, just a slight tremble, and he’s hard and dripping on his knees, lips shiny from where they were pressed against Melissa’s cunt moments before. “I’ve only done this with Melissa.”
Noshiko takes Jordan’s chin between her thumb and index finger, jerking his head up so he can look her in the eye. “What do you want?”
Jordan doesn’t have to think when he answers. He’s already been inside Melissa, tasted Noshiko, had Ken’s strong fingers inside of him. But he still wants more. “To please you. All of you.”
When he’s met with three smiles, he knows he’s made the right choice.
Noshiko wakes slowly, like she’s coming up from the lake all over again, but she’s so warm and pleasantly sore that she automatically knows she’s safe. She’s instantly barricaded with a mixture of pleasant, familiar scents—her husband’s cologne, Melissa’s clean shampoo, Jordan’s sweet sweat, and something sharper beneath it. The cabin’s flannel sheets feel like home.
The smells of bacon and coffee waft up from downstairs and she feels alone in the room except for the presence at the foot of the bed. She rolls over and checks the night-table clock—to her surprise, it’s almost eleven in the morning, hours later than she normally sleeps. She sits at the side of the bed and moves to stand before Jordan at the end of the bed.
“Jordan, are you asleep?” Jordan instantly opens his eyes, looking up at her, but there’s a line of worry on his brow. He’s still on his stomach, his ass pink from last night’s attention, small bruises and love bites formed on his shoulders, spine, and hips. She recognizes the sharp scent beneath his sweetness and frowns. Then she remembers their final order from the night before—do not move until we’re all out of bed. “Jordan, you have permission to use the bathroom now.”
Without a word, Jordan nods and stands, a little unsteady on his feet, and disappears into the bathroom. He comes out moments later, seemingly shy about his nudity in the light of day, hunched over a bit as he stands in the doorway. “I messed up again.”
Noshiko frowns and sits on the bed. “Come here,” she says, beckoning for him, and since he’s not her sub, not yet, he sits next to her instead of going to his knees. “You didn’t mess up. I’m almost 900 years old, Jordan, and I’m still learning this, too. There’s no such thing as failure at this point. Understood?”
Jordan nods curtly, biting his lip—it’s not a coquettish gesture, for all that Jordan is adorable, he’s no naïf. He’s always deep in thought, figuring out his next move. “I want this,” he says, slow and measured. “You asked me last night, you and Ken and Melissa, if this was a one-time thing, and I said I didn’t know.” He swallows hard. “But I know. For the first time in a really damn long time, I’m positive about something.”
Noshiko feels crackling warmth spread in her chest—it’s rare now after her tails, after accepting that her Kira is the kitsune of the family now, but she’ll always have a part of the trickster inside of her. She can’t deny it. It only comes out in moments she’ll never forget. “I must say, I’m a bit perplexed that it took a yōkai to help you figure this out.”
Jordan smiles, leaning into Noshiko. He knows the kappa had nothing to do with it, but he thinks he might want to keep that between himself and Melissa for now. “I think this is going to work out,” he says softly, kissing her shoulder.
Noshiko kisses the top of his head. “I do, too.”