Merry Krumpus

an excerpt



Chapter One

Vinny stood in the front of his cousins' home and studied it very carefully. The one word that came to mind was unimpressive. When he'd first heard through the grapevine that Bishop was the Alpha of the pack, Vinny had imagined his kin would have moved up in the world. Yet they were still living in the same home they had been all their lives.

Not that the house was that bad. Sure, it was boring because it was so ordinary, but it was still better than some. Vinny on the other hand, had come from a lavish condo. One that had all the bells and whistles. He was willing to bet Bishop's home didn't even have a bidet. How primitive.

Still, since Vinny's parents had kicked him out, it wasn't like he had anywhere else to go. The rest of their extended family wanted nothing to do with him. So, he decided this was the only place he could go. He had taken the careful measure of not calling ahead of time and alerting his cousins that he would be arriving. For all he knew, they didn't want him, either. Vinny was just hoping that he could throw some puppy dog eyes their way and wiggle his way into their lives.

He let out a sigh, creating a billow of air in the winter environment. It wasn't like he had any other choices. If his cousins turned him away then Vinny was going to find his privileged butt on some cot in the homeless shelter. He couldn't let that happen. They didn't have high-end beauty products there. He had his skin and hair to think about. He hadn't worked this hard and long to look this good, only to let things go to pot.

He let out a sigh to steady his nerves then made his way to the front door. His only thought was, what if my parents got to them first and told everybody to turn me away. Sure, my cousins may be gay, too, but my parents could have lied to them about the reason why I was kicked out.

It took every ounce of Vinny's courage to knock on the door. When Angel answered it, Vinny felt a small ray of hope. Out of all of them, Angel was the nicest. He even had a smile for Vinny.

"Hey, what are you doing here?" Angel asked.

Vinny gave a slight shake of his head. "The rest of the family didn't call and tell you?"

Angel gave Vinny a strange look. "Why would they do that? They haven't talked to us since we came out."

Vinny adjusted the straps of his backpack. Which held all of his worldly belongings. "Yeah, that's why I'm here. I was kicked out of my house."

"Why?" After asking that, Angel's eyes grew wide. "Oh, I see now."

A heat came over Vinny's cheeks. Was it that obvious he was gay? Did he dress in a certain way? He loved his skinny jeans, and his father had made more than one snide comment over them. Maybe they were some kind of secret code or something.

"See what?" Vinny snapped. "That you have yet another queer in the family. Well, give the Omega a prize because he's right. Somebody better stop the press, Angel finally got something right for once."

Vinny expected Angel to bristle at that last comment. Yet, the Omega just stood there, a serene look on his face. He even blinked a few times as a tiny smile appeared on his face.

"I wouldn't be too demeaning with the Omega remarks, since you're one, too," Angel said. "You may have dyed your hair black, but I still have pictures of you and the natural color is blond. You're not fooling anybody. Especially, with that skinny ass."

"You don't know shit."

Angel let out another sigh then stood to the side. "Why don't you come in and explain it all to me?"

Vinny did as told. Not because he was about to follow anybody's orders, but it was as cold as snot outside. The last thing he wanted was to freeze his balls off. He liked them very much, thank you.

When Vinny saw the indoors was decorated for the holidays, a surge of anger hit him. How dare anybody be so excited about the time of year when his world was going to shit?

"So, how old are you?" Angel asked.

"Seventeen," Vinny replied tilting his head up defiantly.

Even though the law said he was still one year from being an adult, Vinny didn't agree. He was as mature as his cousins and he dared them to say otherwise. Age didn't mean anything. Vinny had been through a lot and he had the mental scars to prove it.

"I'm shocked that your parents threw you out," Angel said as he began to make coffee. "Sure, they may be narrow-minded, but they always thought the world revolved around you."

Vinny pressed his lips together. The last thing he wanted to admit was his parents hadn't technically tossed him to the curb. They'd just stated they had trouble accepting the fact that he was gay. They'd asked for some patience until they got used to the idea.

Well, they could go take a hike. Vinny was insulted that they needed any time at all. He was their son and they should be happy with him no matter what. He didn't have the time for their feelings. After all, he was the one who was grappling with the idea that he was different. Not them.

"Well, you don't know everything about them, do you?" Vinny challenged.

Angel shrugged. "I do know that your father was there for us when our parents died. He knew we were gay, too. He didn't seem to have a problem with it."

Rage filled Vinny. "You don't know anything about him. He just puts on a good face when he's around you. He's super terrible in real life. You wouldn't believe some of the things that he says."

Angel rolled his eyes. As if! Vinny wasn't a child to be coddled. He was almost able to go see R-rated movies and stuff like that. In a year he could even be drafted and go to war. There was nothing kiddie about that.

"Maybe I should just call your father and try to iron things out for you," Angel offered. "I'm sure it's all a big misunderstanding."

"I don't want to talk to him!"

When was Angel going to get it? Vinny's life was going to pot and Angel didn't realize the importance of it. He was acting as if it were just another day in pack land. No big deal, it was just Vinny's life that had just gone into the crapper.

"But the holidays are coming up. Where's your spirit?" Angel asked.

Vinny threw his hands up in the air. "Screw the holidays! I want nothing to do with them."

As soon as Vinny delivered that bombshell, it grew dark outside. Almost as if somebody had snuffed out the sun. A powerful wind blew over the lands. It was so strong the windows shook and the trees shivered. A wolf, that is a normal one, rather than a shifter, howled in the distance. An ominous feeling clung in the air like cigarette smoke.

"Well, that's never happened before," Angel said, drawing each word out slowly.

There was a knock on the door. Vinny looked out the window and let out a huff. Great! It was the town elder. A woman that had to be in her hundreds. Just what he needed was for her to stick her nose into his business. That was exactly why she was there, too. Vinny had no doubt. A flea couldn't fart on their pack land without her knowing about it. So, she was probably there to tell Vinny to go home and things would turn out just fine.

No thank you!

"Don't let her in," Vinny ordered.

Angel walked over to the door then unlocked it. "Don't be crazy. She is one of Bishop's most trusted advisors."

Vinny rolled his eyes. "Yeah, was she the one who told your mate to pretend to be a vet in order to hide the fact that your Omega gift is healing?"

Angel frowned at him. "Who told you about that? What makes you think that he's not a vet?"

Once again Vinny rolled his eyes. "I have a thing called the internet."

"I'm only a few years older than you. I know what it is."

"I did a background search on your mate. I found that he went to law school, but there is no mention of him going to veterinary classes."

"You really need to stop snooping in other's lives. One of these days you're going to find something that you don't like," Angel warned.

"Really? Because I've found a lot of things there that I've liked a lot."

Angel gave him a droll look. "I'm not even going to go there. You're still too young for me to have that kind of discussion with you."

"When will I be old enough?"

"Never," Angel declared.

Angel opened the door and let the elderly women inside. Like the rest of their neighbors, she was a Dire Wolf shifter. Though Vinny had never seen her shift before. It was most likely because she was too old. It would only make sense to him. It took a lot out of the body to shift and she was probably too frail to withstand it.

The old women pointed a finger at Vinny. "I know what you're thinking. I may be old, but I could still take you over my knee and give you the whipping that you deserve."

"You don't know anything about me," Vinny grumbled.

"I know a spoiled brat when I see one," she countered.

A stifled laugh came from Angel. What a traitor. Since he was Vinny's cousin, the Dire Wolf shouldn't be siding with the elderly woman.

"You don't even know me," Vinny snapped.

Angel pointed at him. "You will have respect for you elders."

"Why?"

"For one thing she's an Alpha and you're an Omega."

As if Vinny needed to be reminded about his hated blond hair and blue eyes. To him they'd always been a sign of weakness. A warning that he'd spend his entire life answering to others and never have his own choices in the world.

"Whoever heard of a female Alpha?" Vinny sneered.

Next they would be telling him the sky was brown and the ground was blue. Just because he wasn't officially an adult yet, didn't make him stupid. He wasn't about to believe everything that was told to him.

The elderly woman walked over then grabbed Vinny by the throat. In a flash she had him off the ground and pinned to the wall. All with one hand. Fear spiked through Vinny, but a bit of outrage did, too. How dare they treat him like that?

"Okay, I get it. You're a frigging Alpha," Vinny gasped. It was kind of hard to breathe through her viselike grip.

"You care to repeat that?" the lady asked.

"Okay, you're an Alpha and I should show you more respect," Vinny rushed.

She abruptly let him go, making Vinny crash to the ground. He landed in a crumpled mess. Which didn't exactly up his cool factor. Vinny put a hand to his now aching throat and shot Angel and the Alpha a dirty look. They could have found a way to prove their point in a much less humiliating manner. They didn't have to make a fool out of him. After all, he was having the worst day of his life.

"You're both jerks," Vinny said.

Before either one of them could reply or choke him out again, Vinny got up then ran up the stairs. He'd visited several times before so he knew right where the guest bedrooms were. Vinny picked the largest one, went inside then slammed the door behind him. He even took the extra step of locking it. Not that his cousins couldn't have broken it down if they really wanted too. Vinny just hoped for once somebody would respect his privacy and let him be alone. That way he could fume all he wanted.

For nearly an hour he sat in the dark room, waiting to see what his family's next move would be. He was a little disappointed when nobody came to beg him to come out. Didn't they care about him at all?

Just as he was about to leave, he heard a blood-curdling scream from across the pack lands. It was so filled with horror that it made Vinny's blood turn cold. Whatever was happening could not be good.

He rushed to the window and looked through the glass. He saw several of the Betas running to the house of the Marshall family. They had just only come to live with the pack. The place they'd stayed before had become too brutal and the Marshalls had fled in fear.

It currently seemed as if they would have been better off at their old home. Even from the distance, Vinny could see large puddles of blood soaking the snow surrounding their dwelling. The Betas arrived, but going by their slow pace, they were already too late to save the family.

Then Vinny saw it. He just caught a glimpse of it. He'd only seen it before in horror movies or schoolbooks. Yet, there was no mistaking its brownish red skin that was only covered by a loincloth. Any more than he could deny its upright gait, the horns on its head and the hooved feet.

For some reason. One that Vinny could not fathom, the Krumpus had come to their pack. Which was crazy. They only showed when there was no holiday spirit. Yet, everywhere he looked he saw the houses covered with lights, garland and even those stupid blow up figurines.

So, why would that monster show its ugly face? Then Vinny thought back to his earlier conversation and his body grew cold. It was him! He had been the one to basically say the hell with the holidays and that he wanted nothing to do with them.

Worse yet, even with the Krumpus showing up, Vinny still had no desire to get into the mood. The last thing he wanted was Jingle Bells and Holly Jolly. He wanted to hide out in his room until the end of January and forget the whole thing was going on.

Yet, he knew he couldn't do that. If he did so, then he would be acting like the child they all accused him of being. Vinny ran from his room. He had to find his cousins and let them know what was going on.