Can be found in the Once upon midnight anthology
From the moment Oceanus von Stein, second-in-command to the Patchwork family, caught sight of Taegan Conner, daughter of the leader of the Wolves, he knew he would never love another. Only now, she has been promised in marriage to another, an arrangement to strengthen her family’s alliances–and she gets no say in the matter. Can they find a way to be together, or will they both always be two Broken Pieces?
Take place during Pieces
Being the oldest isn’t always easy.
Everyone depends on you.
Looks up to you.
You are the poster child for the family.
Plus, you worry about everything.
Well, at least, I do.
Which means being selfish isn’t possible. Maybe not selfish—that word is harsh and I’ve
never really liked it, but something along those lines. What I mean is that my needs, my wants
are not important when I have three younger siblings and a father to worry for.
You see, I’m a very busy man. I have many jobs. The first and most important being to
protect and love my family. With everything inside of me. It is my job to guide my brothers and
sister in the right direction to be future leaders of our community. The community my family
runs. A community that is unseen to the human eye, which is fine by me. Dealing with witches,
wolves, shifters, and vampires, along with the Patchwork citizens is enough in my opinion. They
cause enough drama for one man, yet I love them. I want to protect them.
They are my extended family.
Even if a faction of our Works—the shifters—wants to overthrow my family and take
over, I still care for their well-being. I have to. It’s my job as a future leader of the Works. When
my father decides to step down, which could be at any moment, it will be my job to step up and
be the king this community needs. Not that my father isn’t doing his job; he is. It’s just…he’s
old-school. Very old-school, and while all his parts are working at their full capacity, he isn’t the
man he used to be. So much has changed. This isn’t the 1800s anymore, but my father apparently
missed that memo. He’s budged a bit, adapted some, but he still has the same notions he had
back then, and they drive me absolutely mad.
Beyond furious, actually.
But what do I expect? He lived in a time where a man was always right and you followed
your father, your leader. After he lost his father to the plague, he became the leader and led his
family. I don’t think my father meant for his life to go where it did, but it all changed when he
found his grandfather’s old lab books.
That grandfather was Dr. Frankenstein.
The guy who made Frankenstein’s monster himself. Yes, the stories are true. But what
the stories don’t tell you is that he had a son, who had four more sons, my father being one of
them. With Father’s grandfather gone, and then his own father dying, I doubt anyone expected
for Dr. Frankenstein’s work ever to surface again. But my father was and may be smarter than
his ancestors. For when he found the books, he became obsessed with them, and soon he
developed a formula that granted a man immortality.
He soon administrated the formula to his brother, Samuel. But after their mother and two
other brothers died when the formula didn’t work on them, Samuel and Father were discovered.
So, of course, they fled. They had no choice. But they did have a choice when they decided to
come to America and make their own clan.
A clan full of immortal people who would follow and bow down to them. Or, really, to
my father. I doubt Samuel had much say in it, but my father, yeah, he was drunk with the power
he had. He knew he was the best, a god in his mind, and people flocked to him. They begged for
the formula, needed it, and soon my father had his clan.
You would think that would be enough, but it wasn’t. Soon he reached out to the other
supernatural groups. The vampires were first. The main reason was the simple fact that my uncle
loved to sleep with them. The vampires didn’t need anything from my father, but he offered them
an alliance, a way to get them constant blood since he had turned the owner of the local hospital
immortal. As long as the vampires followed my father, he would be there to help them. As
creatures of the night, and being killed off almost every other night by hunters and humans, they
signed on quickly.
Next were the witches. My father promised to export and import anything they needed or
wanted on his fleet of ships. In return, he would use their spells and rituals for things he was
unable to fix.
The wolves signed on for the money. My father needed lots of guards and security
support, and he paid very heavily for them. At first, it was just employment. But somewhere in
there, my father worked out some kind of alliance. It’s beyond me, but he did it, and now they
are basically eating out of his hand.
No pun intended.
The shifters are a whole other story. The resisted us, only coming to us with offers for the
formula itself. Father denied them, of course, but he did ask them to join us. He offered that we
would protect them and even employ some of them. He wanted to make our community
complete with the five strongest clans of supernatural beings. But the shifters didn’t want any
part; they were independent. That was, until people started dying and they needed the protection
my father offered since no one could catch who was killing off their clan. I believe my father had
a part in it, that he hired people to kill them, but he denies it.
Either way, my father got his underground clan, and soon, the rules were in place.
Do what your clan is expected to do. All of us have a particular job to keep the Works
running. The guard support the wolves offer—along with their construction work. The spells and
treatments the witches provide. The political connections the vampires play a part in. And we
can’t forget the connections on Wall Street that the shifters give us. It’s simple, really. Everyone
plays their part and reports back to Father. Well, the clan leaders do, at least.
Another rule is paying your taxes. For obvious reasons, if my father is protecting your
group, curing diseases, providing good housing, and everything else he does, the least you can do
is pay the monthly tax.
Lastly, don’t mix clans. Father wants to keep the purest of bloodlines, to make the future
children of the Works the strongest and best—my father’s words, not mine. Now, that is the rule
that gets broken the most. Mostly by my uncle Samuel and his obsession with vampires. But
even with his lust for the creatures, he has never fathered a child, mostly because vampires can’t
have children. That isn’t the case for other clans, though. And when it happens, I mean, when a
mixed-clan child is conceived, it isn’t long after birth that the child is killed.
That sickens me and will be one of the first things I change when I am the leader of the
I just have to get there.
“You’re thinking way too hard for someone who just woke up.”
I smile, my heart filling with such unadulterated tenderness for the wide blue eyes that
soon trap me in their gaze. A grin pulls at my sweetheart’s lips, her long, flowing strawberry
blond hair falling every so delicately along her jaw and onto my chest as she traces the scar on
“I thought you were sleeping,” I whisper, my lips pressing against hers as my hands grasp
the thick globes of her ass. Holding her tight against my side, I kiss her. Softly, ever so slowly,
memorizing every single thing about her lips and the way they make me feel.
Perfection. Pure perfection.
When she pulls back, her eyes darken a bit as she throws her leg across me, straddling me
as her nails bite into my chest. “I’m not sleeping,” she says, her cheeks dusting with color as I
drink in the gorgeous freckles along her body. She is covered head to toe in them, and I swear, I
want nothing more than to spend the rest of my days tracing each of them with my tongue, my
fingers, anything. As long as I’m touching her.
As she moves her hot center against my growing erection, I smile. “I can see that.” My
hand comes up to cup her full breast. “Whatever are you doing up there?”
She scoffs, her wet core making every single thought from before disappear within
seconds. “If you have to ask, I worry for ya,” she jokes, and I smile, my eyes falling shut a bit.
Her voice, her thick Scottish brogue, does the dirtiest things to my body. Turns me on to the
point of no return.
“I thought you had to leave?”
“I think I have a wee bit of time. Maybe we can spend it?”
Bringing her down by a hand at the back of her neck, I kiss her jaw as her breasts press
into my chest. “I know we can,” I say before rolling her over, my body pressing into hers as I
push her legs back into her chest and enter her quickly. She is hot, accepting me and squeezing
me, making me breathless as I stare down into her beautiful, flushed face.
She stuns me, and I just look at her, my lips curving as my cock throbs inside of her,
begging for release. But I can’t move. Not when she is looking at me like that. She reaches up, a
grin pulling at her lips as she runs her thumb down my jaw.
“Gonna stare at me, my love? Or fuck me?”
“Stare,” I say simply, my body heavy against her legs. “I swear I’ve never seen anyone as
beautiful as you.”
Her grin grows, her body flushing even more, and my heart explodes in my chest.
Cupping my face with her other hand, she threads her fingers through my hair. My body breaks
out in gooseflesh as she holds my gaze. When she looks at me, I know she doesn’t see the scars
or the wounded flesh, the cut marks or the gunshot wounds. She sees me, her lover.
Because that’s all I can ever be.
“I love you, Oceanus,” she whispers, her eyes so dark, so full of lust, and of course, love.
Fuck, I love it when she says those words. Those three words that are ever so beautiful—but
more tragic than one could think. Well, that is until I take over the Works. The moment that
happens, which pray God is soon, I will marry my love. I will make her mine, I will put my child
in her, and together we will lead the Works.
She will be my queen.
I don’t care that she is Taegan Conner, the princess of the wolves, because I don’t see her
faction or even her family name.
I see her heart.
And it’s mine.
Moving her hair out of her eyes, I kiss her nose before sliding mine against it. “I love you
too, my love.”
When her mouth captures mine, I lift her up, holding her ass in my hands as I fall back on
my haunches, thrusting up into her. Her breath is harsh against my mouth, her breasts heavy
against my chest, and as I drive into her, I don’t care about anything but her and me.
I’m being selfish.
I’m taking what I want.
And I don’t care one bit.
It doesn’t happen enough in my opinion, but I guess, being me, I don’t get that luxury.
Truth be told, being Oceanus von Stein isn’t easy.
But it’s who I am. And while I lose myself inside of this beautiful woman, I don’t think
of anything but her, and that’s okay for now.
Eventually, I’ll be able to do it for the rest of my days.
I just have to be patient.
Because my time is coming.
My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.
… and did I mention I love hockey?