In this scene from Bro, the Story Behind the Antonello Brothers, Khyff Antonello is off work for the day and heading for a well-earned rest. Bro has adult themes, but no erotic content or profanity.
Khyff Antonello headed for his freedom. He’d satisfied his last client, and was unscheduled the rest of the day. Or at least the next six hours. As usual, Khyff’s master hadn’t allowed him to eat until he’d met his quota. First up: shower, clean clothes, food. Not necessarily in that order. He kept a few stale crackers hidden in his room for emergencies.
“So you’re an Antonello.”
The way the client said it drew Khyff’s attention. This particular client was one of the less odious. He didn’t grab or cling, he was clean (thank you!) and he tipped well. Still, the guy was paying for sex. Khyff had no choice. Being a pleasure slave meant you serviced the clients sent to you, or you suffered for it. In Khyff’s case, refusing meant risking prison.
He would never go back there, no matter what they made him do here. Khyff clenched his teeth and pasted on a smile. “Pardon?”
“Your last name.” The guy continued getting dressed, seemingly in no hurry. “It’s Antonello, right?”
“I never noticed before. It’s right here on my receipt.” He picked up his mobile and turned the screen toward Khyff. “I mean I’ve been here what… five times now?” He poked at the screen. “Whoa! Seven. Huh. I should have a free visit after three more.”
Khyff choked back a retort. His master was giving away free visits with him? It would take hundreds of client visits to earn enough in his Freedom Savings Account so Khyff could buy himself. If his master was giving him away, it would take forever.
Khyff jerked open the door.
“You don’t look like the other one.”
One step into the hall, Khyff’s heart stuttered. He made a slow pivot. “What?”
“The other Antonello. You look different.”
The world went silent. Khyff came back inside. He shut the door and leaned back against it. “So I’m sure I heard right. You know another Antonello.”
“Yeah. I saw the name and figured you had to be related. Antonello’s not common. Not on Kelthia. I’m guessing you don’t have much family here.”
Good guess. More than three quarters of the world’s population was black-skinned. Khyff had blond hair, blue eyes and fair skin.
Could this be a link to his mother? Did the client know her? Khyff fought the hope that rose within him. It had been how many years? No, he would not allow himself to hope. When you hoped, people could hurt you more.
“Is it a woman?” Khyff gestured toward the client. “This other Antonello.”
“Guy. Younger than you. Maybe your age. Has a baby face. Hard to tell. But he’s got curly hair. Dark.” The guy pulled at his own graying hair and then snapped his fingers. “No, never mind. He wouldn’t be related to you. I just remembered. He’s a HalfKin.”
Half-human, half-feline humanoid Kin.
All the air left the room. Khyff fought to drag in a breath. “What’s his name?”
“Seth, I think. No, Senth. Yeah, that’s it. Senth Antonello.”
The light grayed around the edges.
The guy took a step forward, concern on his face. “Hey, Khyff, you okay? You look a little pale.”
Hearing the name Senth Antonello catapulted Khyff back into the past. To the point in his life when his world had unraveled, torn itself apart and dumped him into hell. He hit the floor with a smack that stung his hands and knees and he crumpled.
“Here, let me help you.” The guy hustled across the room.
Khyff curled into a ball. His stomach roiled and he clamped his jaws down tight, forcing back nausea with sheer force of will.
“Man, Khyff. I take it you know the guy. Stay right there. I’m going to get you some water.” The client crossed the room to the small sink. A sound of splashing followed and he returned with a glass. “Let me help you sit up a little. Lean on me. Here you go. Sip this.”
Khyff was shaking so badly he could not fight off the man’s touch. He let no one touch him. Not if he could prevent it. He could not bring the glass to his lips.
“Easy. Let me help you.” The client held the glass for him. “There. Just a sip. Okay. One more. There. That’s better.” He squinted, peering into Khyff’s eyes. “Geez, I’m sorry. I had no idea. Who is this guy? Are you related?”
Khyff took another deep breath. He met the client’s gaze. “He’s– I think he’s my brother. Half-brother.”
“You sure? You don’t look anything alike.”
“How many HalfKin can there be with a name like Senth Antonello?” Khyff pushed himself back, away from the man. “Look, keep this to yourself, okay? I don’t want my master knowing I have family. He’d use it against me somehow.”
If there was one thing Khyff hated, it was being touched, even when the other person was gentle. But he owed this guy. Seven times he’d been here and Khyff had no idea what his name was. Had never asked; just did the job. Amazing he even came back. And now he’d been kind. Had to give him that.
Khyff smiled. “Thank you. Thank you for telling me.”
“No problem.” The guy smiled back.
“Look, do you know him? My brother?”
“Yeah. He’s a thief.” The guy grinned. “I work at the Thieves’ Guild and he’s a member. Kinda famous, actually. Everybody knows him. Belongs to the Man.”
“The Man. You know. The Harbinger.”
“Never heard of him.”
“Yeah, you’re new here. How long you been on Kelthia? No, don’t worry about it. You’ll learn. Everybody knows the Man.”
Khyff gave the guy another smile. “Think you could set up a meet? I’d like to make sure it’s him. I could–” Khyff took a deep breath, controlled his stomach by swallowing, hard. Made himself say the words. “I’d make it worth your while.”
“Consider it done.”
Senth had been killed at birth. Senth was the reason his mother had been missing for over a decade and why Khyff was a slave. So why was his brother alive? If he wasn’t, if this was some imposter, Khyff wanted to know why. And if Senth was alive, when Khyff got his hands on him, he’d make sure, once and for all, Senth was what he deserved to be — dead.
Click to tweet: The best, worst possible news: his brother’s alive @kayelleallen #scifi #romance #freebook
Get this Book
Take two brothers
Separate them at birth
Make one a half-blood thief
The other a pleasure slave
Mix in angst and longing
Drop a chance comment
Stir in ancient secrets
Add a powerful immortal
Insert happy ending
Sprinkle liberally with humor
Serve warm with smiles
Optional but recommended:
Membership in the Thieves’ Guild
Invisibility Cloak (blue suggested)
This book is free on the author’s website
Here’s a free adult coloring book everyone can download and enjoy. It features characters from the Antonello Brothers series. Original art by Nimajination Studios
About Kayelle Allen
Kayelle is a best-selling American author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.