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Child of Joy [MultiFormat]
eBook by Andrew Grey

eBook Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
eBook Description: Graduating from college would be a highlight of any man's life, but Arthur Kraus is different. He's just reached satyr maturity, and he's going out of his mind as he's swamped with sexual urges. In a desperate moment, he invites his roommate to a Bacchanal and asks him to be his first. But after hearing the first-time stories at the Bacchanal, Arthur decides to wait for more than physical satiation--not knowing that someone has overheard his decision. That someone, Gaelen, is special in his own way: he's the last remaining Fey, a creature of the light, innocent and pure, the protector of the remaining joy the Fey bring to the world. Though attracted to Arthur, Gaelen is afraid to trust. He knows he's being hunted for his power by a force that wants to overthrow Bacchus himself, and Gaelen will have to allow Arthur into his life if he wants to survive.

eBook Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Dreamspinner Press, Published: 2009, 2009
Fictionwise Release Date: January 2010


44 Reader Ratings:
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Prologue

He woke slowly, as though from a deep, happy dream. The sun shone brightly through his windows. He lifted his head and looked out, trying to decide what was different. The view outside hadn't changed: the trees, the lake, the quiet. Everything appeared the same, and yet things were different. The air felt different, albeit slightly, but it was definitely different. Pushing back the covers, he got up and walked to the window, throwing it open to let in the air, and he inhaled deeply and smiled.

"No, I didn't imagine it." He inhaled again before closing the window and going outside. Walking around the house, he continued letting the air flow over his body, trying to determine where the scent was coming from. Then he realized it was on the wind, just barely discernable, but definitely there. "I haven't sensed this in what must be decades."

He spoke the words out loud even though there was no one around to hear them. It didn't matter; the excitement inside him built nonetheless. Well, excitement tinged with fear. "I need this, need to be near them, but I can't let them see me. Who knows what they'll do if they find me." Luckily, he was very good at hiding; he'd been doing it long enough. He was also very good at watching without being seen.

Going back inside, he packed his things into a small bag. There wasn't much, but what he packed was important. It didn't take long and his bag was ready. Then he went outside again, making sure the energy was still there. Unfurling his wings, he took to the air. With a wave of his hand, the house disappeared from view and he then headed west.

He was going to miss his home; he'd been there for a very long time, but always alone. As he rode the air currents, he wondered what they'd be like. The last of their kind he'd met had been frightening, but maybe these would be different? He let himself hope, but he wasn't very confident.

The scent was getting stronger and he could feel his body begin to react to the energy. Without it, this journey would be too exhausting. On he flew, over forests and cities, lakes huge and small, and rivers. He followed the energy to its source: a patch of land in what looked like the middle of nowhere. But he could definitely feel it; the energy was very strong here.

As he flew lower, he passed over a small lake, tall trees, fields dotted with sheep and goats, a house, barns, and then trees again--miles of undisturbed trees. "That looks like a nice spot." He flew just above the treetops before seeing the shimmer of a small creek in the late evening sun. Swooping beneath the canopy, he landed near the base of a huge tree.

The air was so clean, the trees so tall, the forest floor so wild. "This is perfect." He almost rubbed his hands together in delight as he again looked up at the tree. "You won't mind if I make you my home, will you?" He smiled when he got his answer, and got to work.

* * * *

Arthur woke suddenly, gasping in surprise. Raising his head, he looked around, but nothing was different.

"Arthur, are you all right?" The door to his room cracked open.

"Yes, Mom. I must have dozed off." He was sitting at his desk, the light on, books spread out.

Her head appeared in the doorway. "It's nine o'clock. Why don't you go to bed? You're working too hard and could use some rest." Maybe she was right; maybe he was just working too hard and needed a break. Getting up from the desk, he left his room and wandered down the hall to the family room. His dad was watching television--well, more like sleeping in front of the television. Not wanting to disturb him, he went into the kitchen, where his mother was cleaning up. She stopped what she was doing. "Are you hungry?"

Arthur smiled. "No, Mom, I'm fine. Thanks."

"You look like you have something on your mind." She finished wiping the counter and then put the cloth in the laundry.

"I just had the weirdest dream, but I can't describe it. Usually when I dream, they're images, but this time I had this very intense feeling pulling me toward the farm." She sat down across the table from him and listened. "I don't quite know what to make of it. I know Uncle Travis says that satyr dreams are important, but this one was just weird."

"Maybe you should give Travis a call in the morning and see what he thinks." She got up and patted him on the back before joining his dad in the family room.

Arthur lifted himself out of the chair and wandered back to his room. Maybe he was just tired, but he didn't think so. In the morning he would definitely call Uncle Travis to see what he thought.

Back in his room, Arthur closed his books and got ready for bed, sliding beneath the crisp sheets. He fell asleep quickly and had the best dream. He was flying over the farm, with the lake, the fields, the trees, all passing beneath him. He could see the sheep and goats in the fields. Instead of landing at the farm, he continued flying, landing near the base of a massive tree.

It was a nice dream, but one that was hardly memorable, and in the morning, a pleasant feeling remained, but the details of his dream vanished with night's darkness.

* * * *

Chapter One

Arthur arrived back in his dorm room, collapsing on the bed after a marathon day of classes. There were just a few more days until the weekend and just a few more weeks until graduation. He knew he had to get up and pack, but he just couldn't bring himself to do it right now. He wanted a nap before dinner, but there was no way he was going to sleep. The bacchanal was coming up, his body was in overdrive, and nothing he did gave him any relief. Forcing himself up off the bed, Arthur went to the refrigerator for something to drink before sitting at his desk and starting on one of his final reports. Hopefully, he'd be able to make some decent headway.

"Yes." Arthur stretched his back and arms as he yawned through a smile two hours later. He'd been able to nearly complete the report when he heard the door to the room open, and a stack of books landed on the other bed.

"Thank God that's over. I never want to see that damn horse again as long as I live. Don't know why I have to take classes on large animals anyway. I have no intention of working on a farm." Arthur's roommate plopped himself in the old reclining chair in the corner. "Damn thing tried to bite me again."

Arthur snickered as he saved his report and closed his laptop. "Well, if you were nicer to him, Tate, he wouldn't bite you."

"I'm nice to the old nag." Tate pushed back, sighing as he reclined and put his feet up.

Arthur mumbled under his breath, "No, you're not." Then he turned around to look at his roommate, wiping the knowing scowl from his face. "We should get some dinner before it gets crowded."

Tate sighed his agreement, obviously disgruntled at having to get up again, and put the recliner upright before getting up. "Let me get my stuff." He opened one of the drawers from the desk and grabbed his student ID. "Let's go."

Together they walked out of the room and out of the building toward the dining hall.

"I still don't know why you didn't want to get an apartment, instead of living in the dorms."

Arthur huffed softly. This was an old discussion. "Do you cook?" Tate shook his head. "Neither do I, and with our class loads, it makes sense to live in the dorm. We're both doing a three-year program in two years. We don't need the distractions." Arthur opened the door to the dining room. "Besides, you've asked me the same question for almost two years. We're done in a little over a month, so could you give it a rest!"

Tate turned to Arthur and grinned. "Just yanking your chain."

"I'll yank something else if you're not careful."

Tate rolled his eyes, and the grin turned to a suggestive leer. "Promises, promises. All I ever get are promises." They swiped their IDs and got in line. "Are you staying around this weekend? There's a party at the Lambda house that I got invited to, and they said to bring a friend."

Arthur was about to nod when his phone vibrated. He fished it out of his pocket and looked at the number. "Hey, Uncle Travis."

"Arthur!" He could hear the happiness in Travis's voice echo through the connection. "Thought I'd call to see if you were still alive. We haven't heard from you in weeks."

Arthur felt the tension inside him ease a little. "Sorry. I've been real busy with classes and labs, but I've only got a few weeks to go."

"The bacchanal is this weekend. Are you coming?" Travis asked the question like he didn't already know the answer. Arthur knew Travis always seemed to have a sixth sense when one of his satyrs needed something, and now was no exception.

"Yeah...." Arthur drew out the word on purpose.

"I take it you're not somewhere you can talk."

"I'm getting dinner with Tate."

"Okay. I'll see you tomorrow night. Drive carefully and call us when you leave."

Arthur couldn't help smiling at the concern in Travis's voice. "I will. See you tomorrow." He closed the phone and put it back in his pocket. How in the hell was he going to make it through the bacchanal without exploding?

"So you're going away for the weekend again?" Arthur nodded as they reached the front of the line and took their trays. "What can be so wonderful about your uncle's farm that you spend every other weekend there? It's a farm, for Pete's sake."

Arthur said nothing. Where Travis and Cembran had made their lives together was way more than a farm. It was Arthur's second home, his satyr home. It was the place where the bacchanal was held and the place where he and his satyr family could be themselves. He and Tate had been roommates since junior year, but he'd never told his best non-satyr friend about that portion of himself, and over the past few months he'd begun to feel guilty about it. Tate had been a good friend, a close friend, and he didn't want to lose his friendship after graduation. But he knew they'd drift apart if he didn't tell him.

He placed his order and then took the plate the server handed him as they continued down the line. "You're quiet all of a sudden," Tate remarked.

Arthur stopped in front of the dessert station without looking at the sweets. "Do you want to come with me?" The offer was impulsive and he almost wanted to take it back, but Tate grinned in response, and he just didn't have the heart to disappoint him.

"Fuck and Christ, Arthur, I've been waiting almost two years for you to ask me. Took you long enough." Tate bumped his shoulder playfully and they made their way to the drink station and then wound through the throng of students until they found an empty table.

"Hey, Tate. You coming to the party Saturday?" Arthur watched as one of the boys in a Lambda shirt ambled up to Tate, flirting heavily.

"Afraid not. Got other plans this weekend. Sorry, Kyle." The boy mock pouted and then flounced off to rejoin his friends.

"You could stay and go to the party if you want. You wouldn't want to disappoint Kyle." Arthur smirked as he began to eat. Tate was notorious for his attraction to younger guys and his carousing ways. Tate had never met a man he didn't want to fuck, and he usually got what he wanted.

"No way. I'm spending the weekend with my best friend here, down on the farm. Yee-haw." He actually waved his hands over his head like he was swinging a lariat.

"Stop that!" Arthur glared at his roommate and Tate put his hand down and began to eat, looking contrite.

"I didn't mean to upset you; I was just joking." The smile that had been on Tate's face faded away. "This farm is special to you, isn't it?"

"Yes, it's special, and it's hard for me to explain right now." Arthur let his expression soften. "But I need to tell you some things after dinner." Arthur was suddenly very nervous. He was going to have to explain to Tate about who he was and what was going to happen this weekend. This was something he'd never done before. Travis was usually the one that helped explain about satyrs and brought others into their community. He'd watched Travis tell people in the past, but Travis had a sixth sense about people and he knew whether they were going to be a threat. Arthur had no such insight, and now he'd impulsively committed himself to bringing Tate to the bacchanal. He needed to step up and tell him. Arthur pulled himself out of his thoughts and ate his dinner, deciding he'd better call Travis and ask for his advice before breaking the news to Tate.

"Then let's finish this gourmet dinner so you can tell me all about this farm of yours." That got Arthur smiling again. After six years of eating dining hall meals, he hardly tasted it anymore. Making fun of the food was a campus pastime, but after a while you just gave up and ate.

"So what did you do to Neverland to make him bite you?" Arthur changed the subject, and they spent much of the rest of their dinner discussing classes and Tate's hate-hate relationship with horses, or at least that particular horse.

After dinner, they left the dining hall. Arthur said casually, "I need to make a phone call. I'll meet you in the room in twenty minutes." Tate nodded and continued down the walk as Arthur pulled out his phone and dialed the farm.

The phone was answered by Cembran, who seemed as happy to talk to him as Travis had been. "I'm bringing a guest to the farm this weekend. I hope it's all right."

"You know the bacchanal is this weekend." He could hear concern in Cembran's voice. Then the tone changed. "Is this someone special?"

The suggestive tone in the older satyr's voice made Arthur laugh. "He is special, but not quite that way. I want to bring my best friend, Tate, but I'm not sure how to tell him about us." The line was quiet for a while. "Uncle Cembran, are you there?"

"I'm here. Just thinking." Arthur could hear Cembran release a soft sigh. "You need to be honest with him and make sure you explain to him that you aren't going to hurt him and there's nothing to be afraid of." He heard Cembran start to chuckle. "When Travis and Gathod told your Uncle Doug, he didn't take it very well initially, but he eventually calmed down and listened." Cembran continued. "We're probably lucky he didn't draw his gun." Cembran's chuckles subsided. "You've known Tate for a long time and we've all met him when we've visited. My impression is that it'll be okay. Besides, if Travis thought Tate was any sort of danger to you, he'd have told you long ago. So just be honest and answer his questions truthfully."

"Thanks, Uncle Cembran."

"You're welcome, Arthur." The line was quiet for a second. "How are you doing?"

"Okay. I feel like I'm about to...." He looked around, making sure no one was listening. "I feel like I'd screw a knothole, to tell you the truth."

Cembran began laughing hard. "I was always lucky there. I never felt the pull of the bacchanal as heavily as most satyrs do, but I do remember how difficult it was once the urges started. Since we mature sexually later in life, it seems our bodies need to make up for lost time. It's temporary and doesn't last forever."

"Thanks for the help, Uncle Cembran. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Okay. We'll see you then." Arthur hung up the phone and continued down the walk to the dorm.

He found Tate reclining in the chair, a book open on his lap, reading. "So." He closed the book. "What is it you want to tell me about the farm?" Arthur shut the door and flipped the lock. Tate's eyebrows rose inquisitively. "Must be important if you're locking the door." Tate raised the recliner to a seated position. "What's going on?"

"There's something I've never told you and it's pretty important, particularly if you come to the farm." Arthur found himself biting one of his fingernails.

"What could be so important? What do you have on this farm? Unicorns?" Tate was being his usual dramatic self and Arthur relaxed just a little.

"Not exactly, but something that'll be equally hard for you to believe." This wasn't going very well and he figured he should just get on with it. Tate started to say something, but Arthur cut him off with a gesture. "I need to say this, okay?" Tate nodded and said nothing. "I think I told you that my mom died when I was fourteen and that I was in the county home for children for a while." Tate nodded and leaned forward, clearly interested. "When I was there, I met Uncle Travis and he helped me find a home. It was through Travis that I met Mom and Dad."

"You told me this a few years ago. I always wondered why Travis didn't adopt you."

Arthur shook his head. "That's a whole different story and we really don't have the time right now. There's a reason why Uncle Travis took an interest in me and helped me besides the fact that he and Uncle Cembran are two of the best people ever. It's because Uncle Travis realized that I was like him."

"You mean gay. That's no secret." Tate leaned back in the chair.

"No." Arthur was finding this even harder that he thought it would be; he really wished Uncle Travis were here to help him. But he wasn't, and Arthur was an adult and he needed to be able to take care of himself. Besides, he knew and trusted Tate. Suddenly he realized how most other people felt when they came out of the closet. It had never been an issue for him. "Look, I'm just going to tell you, but you have to promise me that you'll hear me out and remember that I'm not going to hurt you and that there's nothing to be scared of, okay?"

"Okay, okay, just tell me already." Tate was flapping his hands like a big old queen, making Arthur laugh.

"Okay." What the hell. "Tate, I'm a satyr." He waited for Tate's reaction but got nothing but a blank look.

"Yeah, right, and the farm is filled with half-men, half-horses, with unicorns jumping over fences, and fairies flying through the air." Tate began to laugh as he slapped the arm of the chair. "This must be pretty bad if you have to take the edge off with a whopper like that."

"It's no joke, Tate." Arthur let his cloak slip, and two horns, about six inches long, appeared in his black hair. He also had a tail, but he refrained from dropping his pants to show it to Tate.

"Holy shit!" His roommate flew back hard enough that the chair reclined on its own, sending him backward. Tate looked closer as he slowly righted the chair again. "You weren't kidding, were you?" Arthur shook his head. "How do you hide those?" Tate pointed to the horns.

"It's part of the magic."

"You can do magic too? Like make things disappear for real?" By the look on his face, you'd think Harry Potter had just stepped into the room and they were at Hogwarts instead of Michigan State.

"No, I can't do that kind of magic." He re-cloaked his horns. "It's just part of who we are."

"So, this farm--it's where other satyrs live?" Arthur nodded. "And Brock and Steve, your mom and dad, and uncles, they're all...?"

"Yeah, they're all satyrs, and there are others as well. You'll meet them all. That is, if you still want to go to the farm." Arthur was suddenly wondering if Tate would still want to go, and worse, if he'd just lost his best friend.

"My God, of course I still want to go." Tate got to his feet. "No one will believe this when I tell them."

Arthur grabbed Tate's arm. "You can never tell anyone, ever! It's the only way we can be safe." Arthur let go of Tate's arm. "You must promise me, and it can't be bullshit or some silly promise on your mother's life, but a real promise."

"Why the secrecy?" Tate was pacing around the room.

"One of the satyrs you'll meet at the farm is Mr. Vauk. He was captured and spent sixty years in a cage, forced to perform like an animal in circuses and carnivals. You know how people treat others who are different. Imagine how people will treat someone who's not fully human." The fear in Arthur's voice was real--very real. Was he putting everyone he loved in danger?

"Okay, Arthur, I promise. I'll never tell another soul. Not my parents, not anyone." Then, to Arthur's surprise, Tate hugged him. "You're my best friend and I know how hard this was for you to tell me." Arthur returned the hug, but said nothing as relief flooded through him. He wasn't going to lose his best friend. Maybe there was hope for what he really wanted to ask.

"So what's this farm like?"

"It's a farm--they raise goats and sheep. But there are other animals as well. Cembran has dogs, there's a deer, Mika, and there will probably be others if Mr. Vauk has babies he's rescued."

"Is there something special going on this weekend? Because you wouldn't leave this close to finals if there wasn't something special."

"This is the weekend of the bacchanal."

"Ohh-kay. Like I know what that means."

"Satyrs can only get pregnant beneath the full moon, so we hold a bacchanal each month. There's food and drink, stories, dancing, and, uhh... other stuff." He couldn't help blushing just a little. Arthur had never talked with anyone about the feelings he'd been having the past few months. He knew what they were, but in some ways he felt like a teenager.

Tate's eyes widened. "You mean you've been leaving each month to attend some sort of orgy and you never invited me until now?"

"It's not an orgy." Arthur smacked Tate on the arm. "It's a bacchanal. Most everyone is paired up and the sex happens in private shelters around the lake. Well, most of the sex anyway. It's very impolite to watch unless you're invited, and most couples are really quite private." Leave it to Tate to turn something sacred and beautiful into something dirty.

"Okay, it's not an orgy." Tate rubbed his arm. "But you've been leaving each month to attend this bacchanal. No wonder you've never shown any interest in anyone at school. I mean, you must get horny, being a satyr and all."

"I do, and I am, but it's different. We don't reach sexual maturity until we're about twenty-three or twenty-four. So, up until recently, I had no desire for sex, but in the past few month's it's kicked in with a vengeance, and therein lies the problem."

"What sort of problem? We'll find you someone and get you laid."

Arthur shook his head vehemently. "Uncle Gathod told me once that a satyr's first time is very important. He said to be sure to choose carefully, and I believe him."

"Okay, so is there someone you want for your first time? Is there someone at the farm you have your eye on?" Arthur said nothing, but he stared at Tate, waiting. "What?"

Arthur sighed in exasperation. "Uncle Gathod said to make sure the person you chose for your first time was special and meaningful, because you would remember that person for the rest of your life. So, I chose you."

"Me?" Tate seemed so stunned he just sat there. "Why would you want me? Are you in love with me or something? Like some romance novel character who falls in love with his roommate?"

"No, I'm not in love with you. But I do love and trust you. You're my best friend and I want my first time to be special, and I know with you it would be. If you don't want to or if you think it will change our friendship, then I won't hold it against you. I promise."

Tate got up, looking a little dazed. "I love you, too, ya goof, and I'd be honored to be your first time. But what about afterward?"

"Afterward? You mean after we come back?" Tate nodded slowly. "We'll be friends just like we are now, but friends with a very special memory, and you'll have given me something very special that I will remember for the rest of my life." Arthur hoped it would be a special memory for Tate; he was sure it would be for him. He and Tate had been close for a number of years, and while he hoped this wouldn't alter their friendship too much, he wasn't naive enough to think it wouldn't change it at all.

"But what if it changes our friendship? I don't want to lose that." Arthur could see concern on Tate's face, but he could also tell that his friend was both intrigued and a little excited about the offer.

"You won't. Think of it as giving me something very important and special. I know this will be hard for you to understand, but you'll be giving me a great gift, a part of who I am." It was hard for him to explain that Tate would be ushering in his satyr adulthood.

Tate smiled and hugged his best friend tight. "You're giving me something very special, you know. I've never been someone's first time before."


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