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The Year of the Salamander

Novel By: Katya Dee

Desmond, Gabriel, and Sam return in this sequel to Specter's Gamble. Two years had passed since the events in the first book; Gabriel is an analyst for one of the bigger banks; Desmond is an instructor at the military school; and Sam keeps obsessing about cleaning the house.
One day, Gabriel comes home early because he just happened to fall in love with a white fluffy puppy, whom he immediately adopted, to Sam's greatest joy, and to Desmond's even greater horror. Three start living with the dog, adjusting to changes.
Everything is great until Desmond finds out that this particular year is a huge event. It is the year of the Flaming Lizard and Winter Equinox at the same time. The same year that almost caused a major catastrophe for all human kind 98 years ago. They face even greater problems when they find out about the sacrifice that has to be made in order to bring forth one of the old gods. A discovery that makes Desmond feel cold in the midst of the hot late-August day... View table of contents...


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Submitted:Apr 25, 2010    Reads: 384    Comments: 5    Likes: 3   

- I -

Green-eyed man watched the young man scrub the kitchen counter with envious dedication. Finally, he hemmed and rummaged through his pockets until he found a hair band in one of them. He pulled his long black hair into a ponytail and swiftly wrapped the hair band around it.

"You don't have to do that, you know," he said, and the young man glanced at him above his shoulder.

"I know," he nodded with a small smile. "I want to though... You and Gabriel both have jobs, and I just sit on my ass all day..." he shrugged. "I feel like a leech," he finished and returned to scrubbing the counter.

"Nonsense," the green-eyed man said seriously. "The amount of money that you brought in definitely makes you anything but the leech."

"It's not like I worked my ass off to get that money," the youngster shrugged again. "Just an inheritance..."

"Doesn't change anything," the black-haired man pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket, and was about to light one of them up, when the front door opened and someone walked inside the house.

"Hey!" that someone called in a careful voice. "It's me!"

The black-haired man frowned slightly and put his cigarette away.

"You are home early," he called without getting off the chair.

"Des, come here..." the voice sounded almost guilty now. "Need to talk..."

The one named Des frowned deeper and got up finally. He walked out of the kitchen, his expression puzzled and wary.

"What did you do...?" he started saying and froze in his spot when he saw the owner of the guilty voice. His green eyes slowly grew bigger and bigger; they looked almost terrified.

"Ahem," the other man said finally. "I... Ummm... Yeah..."

"Oh dear God..." Des said slowly. "Please tell me that we are supposed to watch it for a day or so and then give it back..."

"Ummm... No..." was the reply he got. "Desmond, I... Ummm... This is the reason I took the rest of the day off..."

"Rayhe, please tell me that you didn't adopt it..." Desmond's voice sounded desperate now.

"I... Ummm... I adopted it," the other man nodded guiltily, and Desmond closed his eyes.

"I am allergic," he made a weak attempt.

"No, you are not," Rayhe sighed. "Listen, one of the guys I work with brought three of them in today... I swear, I wasn't even thinking of getting one, but then this thing right here..." He demonstrated the said thing. "He just marched up to me and..."

"Peed on your shoe?" Desmond opened his eyes finally. Rayhe hemmed.

"No," he said with less guilt in his intonation. "He nipped at my ankle..."

Desmond narrowed his eyes.

"If I knew that you are getting off on that sort of thing, I would've done it a long time ago..." he said in the even voice.

Rayhe laughed.

"No," he shook his head. "It was a playful nip, you know? The other two, they were just standing there, you know? They looked kinda scared... But this one..." he looked at the furry thing he held in his hands. "He didn't seem even a little bit scared. Then I picked him up and..." he coughed.

"The rest is history," Desmond said miserably.

"Hey, Gabriel, what's up...?" the young man walked out of the kitchen and stopped talking the minute he saw what was in Gabriel's hands. His eyes started to grow huge, just like Desmond's did a few minutes ago. "Oh my God..." he said finally. "Please don't tell me that we would have to give him back!" Desmond snorted at that. "It's a 'he,' right?"

"Yes," Gabriel sighed. "It's a 'he'... And no, we won't have to give him back. He is ours... Well," he shrugged. "Yours, mostly..." and he shoved the puppy into young man's hands. "Happy Solstice," he muttered.

"It's July," the young man frowned slightly, running his fingers through puppy's thick fur.

"This covers every single holiday until your birthday," Desmond said firmly. Young man's birthday was in February.

"Okay," the youngster said simply with a huge grin. "Thanks, Gabriel...!"

"You are welcome, Sam," Gabriel sighed again.

"Start training this thing right now," Desmond said darkly. "Because if he pisses in my room, he is dead!"

"He won't," Sam smiled even wider, and then the puppy moved his ears in a thoughtful motion, and suddenly, a warm stream of yellow liquid spilled all over Sam's shirt. "Oh, shit!" he cried and instinctively moved the dog away from himself, thus causing the liquid to spill all over the floor.

"Have fun," Desmond nodded and stepped over the puddle, heading to the kitchen.

He came back a minute later, a cigarette stuck between his teeth.

"What are you going to name it?" Gabriel asked while Sam was pulling off his shirt.

"I don't know..." Sam shrugged and threw the shirt on the floor, wiping the puddle with it.

"Name him Goldie," Desmond hemmed without pulling a cigarette out of his mouth. "As in 'Golden Shower'..."

Sam laughed and picked up his drenched by now shirt.

"I'll name him Des, how's that?" he said and threw the shirt into the trashcan.

"Oh, hell, no!" Desmond said seriously, ignoring Gabriel's snort. "You are not giving my name to a dog!"

"Fine," Sam sighed and kneeled in front of the puppy, who immediately licked his hand. "I'll name him..." He thought for a few seconds. "Specter," he nodded finally, and dog's ears perked up at the name. "Hey, he likes it!" Sam smiled again.

"Kid," Desmond said dangerously. "You are not giving my name..."

"It's not your name," Sam interrupted him. "Your name is Desmond Rae, not Specter. Specter died, remember?"

Desmond closed his eyes for several seconds.

"Shut up, Rayhe," he said finally and walked away without waiting for the reply.

"I didn't say anything," Gabriel sighed mostly to himself.

...It has been almost two years after Specter's demise; almost two years after they finally left that city; almost two years after they settled in a new place. At first, they decided to simply live off the percentage they got from their bank accounts, which was plenty. That and Sam ended up inheriting every single talon his father had, since Sam was the only child - and that was a very hefty amount of money. LeVoughn-Senior sure knew how to make cash, it seemed.

Living off the percentage turned out to be not as glamorous as it seemed at first. Boredom attacked them rather quickly, and Rayhe was the first one to start looking for a job. Desmond followed the same suit in a month or so. At first, he had no idea what kind of job he would even qualify for - he doubted there was an open spot for killing instructor. For Rayhe it was easy - he liked numbers and such, so he found a job in one of the larger banks almost instantly as an analyst. Desmond almost gave up on the whole job idea, when Gabriel told him one of those days that they were looking for another instructor at the military school.

"Military school?" Desmond snorted at that. "Do I look like a drill sergeant?"

"Not really," Gabriel narrowed his eyes critically. "But you are a good strategist and you do know a hell of a lot about poisons," he nodded. "That and your weapons knowledge and technique are quite unique," he added after a minute when Desmond still looked doubtful.

Finally, Desmond was convinced enough to apply for the position. To his greatest surprise, he got the job a week after he turned in the application. To his even greater surprise, he realized after the first month or so that he actually enjoyed teaching.

Sam tried convincing both of them - Gabriel and Desmond - that he needed to find a job as well, even though part-time, but both men flatly refused. "Just stay home, kid," Desmond told him. "God is my witness, we are in no need for money, and frankly, I don't want you to hang around some creeps and freaks..."

"I'll be fine," Sam rolled his eyes. "Desmond, I am not a kid, okay? I am twenty-two!"

"You are a kid," Desmond nodded and that was the end of the conversation.

Right now, it was July, therefore Desmond was on vacation, since the school closed for the entire three months of summer. Rayhe kept working his usual shift; Sam kept obsessing about cleaning the house; and Desmond kept lifting his legs absent-mindedly while reading something every time the kid would attack his feet with a vacuum cleaner. Sam tried to talk both men into getting a dog or some other animal (even a fish-tank would be fine), but he would inevitably get the same 'No way in hell!' answer. Finally, he gave up and stopped even mentioning it.

This white fluffy puppy came out of nowhere, Desmond thought gloomily. Rayhe never showed any interest in dogs; in fact, he was in the same boat with Desmond - no pets. And today, all of a sudden, he falls in love with that furry white ball. "Dammit," Desmond grumbled, remembering the size of that ball. The puppy was very young, that much was obvious even to Desmond who knew nothing about dogs. That white ball of fur was maybe eight weeks old if that. Nevertheless, he was rather large ball with lots of white fur. "That shit will be everywhere," Desmond thought, and then shrugged. He is not the one who will have to vacuum it, so it's all good.

He turned his head when the door to the bedroom creaked open. Rayhe walked in, and his expression was very cautious, as if he expected Desmond to throw something at his head.

"What kind of dog is that?" the ex-assassin asked gloomily, and Gabriel's shoulders relaxed slightly.

"Akbash dog," he said mildly, and Desmond blinked, speechless.

Okay, he didn't know anything about dogs - nothing about their diet, nothing about training, not a single clue about necessary shots and whatnot. What he did know, however, were some certain breeds. Akbash dog was one of them.

"Are you out of your mind?" he said finally, very weakly. "That thing will be the size of an overgrown pony!"

"Yes," Gabriel said as mildly as before. "That breed is quite large..."

"Quite large?" Desmond repeated with weak fury. "Rayhe, an elephant is quite large... Akbash dogs are bloody huge!"

"Des, come on..." Gabriel sighed and walked closer even though he was worried that he would end up getting hurt. "Sam wanted a dog for the past two years... He is stuck here all by himself while we are working, and he can only raid the bookstore that many times...! Come on, Des, you are not the one who will have to worry about walking and training that dog... Hell, you don't even have to feed him, how's that? I'll do it if Sam can't for some reason, okay? Des, come on..."


"Come on..." Gabriel muttered and stroked Desmond's neck with his fingertips.

"If he pisses in my room, he is dead," Desmond said with determination. "And God help him if he decides to hump my leg..."

"Uh huh..." Gabriel said and ran his mouth on the side of Desmond's throat.

"This is not going to turn me into a dog lover, just so you know..." Desmond muttered and buried his fingers in Rayhe's hair.

"Uh huh..." Gabriel said again and pushed Desmond against the desk.

"Did you close the door...? I'd hate for the damn dog to waltz in here..."

"Uh huh..."

"You planned this, didn't you?"

"Uh huh..."

"I am going to... Ooh..."

"Uh huh..."


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