Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Final Victory!

For over a year, I've hoped to be able to write a post like this, and now, I am. I have received my letter of reversion granting me back full rights for Kissing Cody Starr from Ellora's Cave, the final title of mine that they held. Very soon, it will be removed for sale from their site and all third party distributors. I have now obtained my full publishing rights back on all of my books that had been published through them. Gaining back this book was the last fight in getting free from EC, and now it's done.

The sense of relief I have is unbelievable. Many of you have been with me through this battle, offering support and encouragement, and I can't thank you all enough. As you know, the books I had previously obtained from Ellora's Cave are going on to have bright futures with MLR Press. Vampire Prince, after revisions and editing, has just been released again under MLR.

I'm eternally grateful to MLR Press for taking on these books. With these titles being re-releases, it's a given that the sales on them won't be as high. For that alone, they could've turned the books away rather than put out their time, energy, and resources to publish them again. Instead, they're giving me the support and encouragement that they have throughout my writing career. MLR is a publishing house of integrity and professionalism, who treat their authors with respect, and I'm thrilled to have my books with them.

But do I have some bitterness and resentment toward EC for all I had to go through to get my books back and for all the money I've lost because of them? Sure, I do. But more than resentment and bitterness, I now feel relief and happiness to have gotten my books back and to be completely free from Ellora's Cave. The way out might not have been ideal, but still, I got out with my books. In the end, that's what matters and I count it as the ultimate victory.

So instead of focusing on all the negative that's taken place, I'm putting my energy toward positive actions; writing new stories and preparing these books to be published once again. And man, do I know Kissing Cody Starr needs a lot of work in the editing department! But it'll get done, and that book and Model Love will return better than ever, just as I believe Vampire Prince has. My creative spirit has been rejuvenated, and I feel like my writing career is my own again.

Once again, I give my deepest and most heartfelt thank you to everyone for your support. It's been a long journey, a tiring battle, but one that has concluded with a happy ending and victory.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Now Available: Vampire Prince

I'm very happy to announce that Vampire Prince is now live at MLR Press! It's also up at AllRomance eBooks and Amazon. I've been waiting for this moment, and I couldn't be happier to see it finally come. This story has been on quite the journey, but the hope of seeing this day is what kept me going through the long battle to get my publishing rights back on it. I'm grateful to MLR Press for giving this book a new home, and so incredibly appreciative to all my readers who've shown so much support. I hope everyone will enjoy the return of Vampire Prince!

Three years ago, Sebastian Beaumont, was starving and struggling on the streets. An offer for safety and shelter was nothing but the lies of a vampire. Since then, he’s been trapped, surrendering his blood and body as a blood slave to vampires, all for the hope of gaining one more day of life and maybe, someday, his freedom.

Having crossed more than three hundred years of life, Valentin Wyndham, is a prince among vampires. Memories of betrayal still haunt him and love isn’t something he seeks. When his need for blood becomes too strong, he breaks his usual habits and visits a blood house. Though he tries to resist, he can’t help but be captivated by the beautiful Sebastian.

Unable to deny the intensity between them, Valentin frees Sebastian from the blood house, but danger follows them both from those who don’t want to let Sebastian go.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Excerpt: Vampire Prince

This week, Vampire Prince is returning, and I couldn't be happier! On the 27th, Valentin, Sebastian, Basil, and Sal will make their debut at their new home, MLR Press. And I feel like they're exactly where they're meant to be. With them about to make their return, I wanted to post a little excerpt to let those who've read the book before get reacquainted with Valentin and Sebastian, and to introduce the guys to those who haven't met them before. I selected the first half of Chapter 3 from the book, because I thought this part did both of those things nicely. It shows Valentin and Sebastian interacting at the beginning of their first night together and hints at what's to come between them.

I hope everyone will enjoy this peek at Valentin and Sebastian :D

Three years ago, Sebastian Beaumont, was starving and struggling on the streets. An offer for safety and shelter was nothing but the lies of a vampire. Since then, he’s been trapped, surrendering his blood and body as a blood slave to vampires, all for the hope of gaining one more day of life and maybe, someday, his freedom.

Having crossed more than three hundred years of life, Valentin Wyndham, is a prince among vampires. Memories of betrayal still haunt him and love isn’t something he seeks. When his need for blood becomes too strong, he breaks his usual habits and visits a blood house. Though he tries to resist, he can’t help but be captivated by the beautiful Sebastian.

Unable to deny the intensity between them, Valentin frees Sebastian from the blood house, but danger follows them both from those who don’t want to let Sebastian go.

Excerpt: Part of Chapter Three
Sebastian closed the boudoir door. Unlike his bedroom, the boudoirs were finely furnished and comfortable, all draped in velvet, satin, and silk, and each held a large bed. And now, in the center of this room, was a vampire unlike any he’d ever met.

He slowly turned, putting his back to the door. Valentin gazed around the space, his posture casual, his hands clasped behind his back and his cane dangling between his fingers.

Was he really some kind of vampire royalty? From how Wesley was addressing him, he must be. He’d never heard of such a thing, but that wasn’t surprising. Vamps weren’t much for chitchat when they came in, and Wesley sure as hell never told him anything. The more ignorant the blood slaves were about vampires, the better, seemed to be the code here.

One thing he was sure of, it was the highlight of his past three years to see Wesley stumbling over himself to please this vampire prince. He’d give Valentin a small bit of respect for that and for standing up for him. He nearly fell over when Valentin addressed his question directly and spoke to him as if he was an intelligent being with feelings.

Of course, that was the second time he felt as though he could fall over. The first came when he saw Valentin. All the vampires that had come through here and never had any of them compared to this one in beauty. Black hair, straight and silken, fell past Valentin’s shoulders. He was dressed in a black three-piece suit, immaculate, cut to perfection for his slender form. His facial features were delicate with sweeping cheekbones. The ivory color of his skin seemed even more pronounced with his ebony hair. And the way he carried himself, with the sophistication and grace of a gentleman from a faded era bringing elegance into this age.

But what stood out to him the most were the vampire’s eyes, so light a blue they looked as though they were only frosted with color. And they’d looked as cold as ice when Valentin faced off against Wesley.

For the first time in longer than he could remember, arousal rose within him. True and genuine arousal, not just his body’s reaction to being touched.

Sebastian stomped it down. How much of a fucking idiot could he be, getting turned on by a vampire? Where the hell was his head? All this vampire wanted was to use him. One look at Valentin’s pretty face and suddenly he was humanizing him. Stupid. A monster wasn’t human.

His defenses reinforced by his thoughts—and reality—he walked toward the bed to set out the lube and anything else the vampire might want. All boudoirs were well stocked with sex toys and items.

“Well, this room is as garish as the rest of this place.”

Sebastian slowed in his steps. The sound of Valentin’s voice rattled his defenses. But how could it not? Deep and soothing, the vampire’s words rolled with an elegant English accent. He glanced toward him. “Yeah, Master Wesley’s not much of a decorator.”

“I don’t think Master Wesley is much of anything at all.”

Sebastian couldn’t hold back his grin. He looked at Valentin, who was smiling at him. A vampire who smiled? Actually good-humoredly and not with malicious intent? Seriously, who was this guy?

Sebastian turned away and continued toward the bed. Reaching the nightstand, he opened the top drawer, retrieving a bottle of lube and tossing it onto the bed. “So, your highness, this is going to be my first time with a vampire prince. I never knew vampires had a monarchy.”

“We don’t, not in the true sense of what a monarchy is. Prince is merely a title of formality. Among us, for every century of life, you’re given a title until your five hundredth year. When we vampires reach one hundred, we’re given the title of knight and that title goes to the female vampires as well. For the two hundredth year, the title changes to Duke or Duchess. The three hundredth year, we become a Prince or Princess. Four hundredth is marked by the title of King or Queen. Five hundred years is when one is referred to as being an Elder. We do have a ruling body of High Elders, but truth be told, they don’t do much. They’re only summoned together for matters of the highest importance.”

Sebastian stared at Valentin, stunned. He had answered. Valentin actually answered him, with a complete and thorough explanation.

Valentin tipped his head to the side in a contemplative look. “Did I give too much information too quickly?”

Sebastian shook his head. “No, not at all. I’m just shocked you answered. I don’t get many answers around here. I don’t get any, really.” 

“I see. I’m sorry to hear that. How long have you been here?”

“Three years and ten days, not that I’m keeping track.”

Valentin’s slender eyebrows rose. “Three years? That’s quite a long time for a blood slave.”

Sebastian looked away, their comfortable moment broken with the reminder of what he was and how his mortality loomed over him every night to preserve the immortality of vampires.

Valentin took a step toward him, extending a hand. “I’m sorry. That was ill-phrased.”

Sebastian focused on the open drawer and the sex toys inside. “You don’t have to apologize to me. Blood slave, remember? You can do whatever you want to me. Fuck me, beat me, kill me, and who’ll care? No one. So the last thing you have to do is say you’re sorry. And at least you’ve got the balls to call me what I am. Not trying to call me a donor.” He closed his eyes tight, mentally kicking himself. He really was going to get himself killed sooner rather than later talking to a vampire this way. He needed to try to smooth things over. “I’m sorry, Prince Valentin. I shouldn’t have been talking like that. Like Master Wesley said, I’ve got a shitty attitude.”

“Given your circumstances, I think it’s understandable. And all things considered, I’m rather enjoying your shitty attitude.”

Sebastian snapped around to look at him. Another smile rested on Valentin’s lips.

Gracefully turning, Valentin walked to a nearby armchair and propped his cane against one arm. He unbuttoned his suit jacket, slipped it off, and tossed it over the back of the chair. “Propriety is so dull. I far prefer honesty. So please, speak freely with me and also, feel welcomed to address me as Valentin. What’s your full name?”

“Sebastian Jonathon Beaumont.”

“Do you prefer Sebastian, or do you shorten your name to Bastian?”

“No one’s ever called me Bastian before.”

“Would you mind if I did? It has a charming sound to it.”

“Yeah, sure. That’d be fine.”

Valentin removed his vest and laid it over his jacket. He faced Sebastian, one index finger hooked over his black silk tie as he loosened the knot. “Tell me, how did a smart lad like you end up here?”

Sebastian continued to stare at him in silence. With Valentin now wearing only the black dress shirt, he could easily tell Valentin’s body was hard with muscle. The arousal he’d tried to stamp out earlier returned, stronger. He forced his mind away from it and on Valentin’s question. “By accident, on my part. I didn’t know where I was being brought. And if you want to know the truth, I still don’t know where this place is. I was blindfolded and—”

“Savannah, Georgia.”

Sebastian paused, his mouth dropping open slightly. “What?”

“You said you don’t know where this house is located. It’s about thirty minutes northeast of Savannah, which I think is the largest closest city. I’ve only recently moved here, so I’m still familiarizing myself with the area.”

Sebastian’s breath rushed from him. All these years of not knowing where he was and now he had a general idea. He wasn’t far from Savannah. His mind spun with the thought as if he’d been given information to one of the greatest secrets in the world. Knowing where he had lived all this time felt that amazing to him, and it was because of this strange and beautiful vampire who spoke so freely to him.

Sebastian nodded his gratitude to Valentin. “Thank you.”

Valentin stayed quiet for a moment, seeming to study him. “You’re welcome. I’m sorry I interrupted, but I thought you should know. What else were you going to say?”

Sebastian took a breath, trying to clear his mind from reeling with the revelation. “I, uh, was just saying I was blindfolded and didn’t see anything on my way here.”

“You said you’ve been here three years. How old are you now?”

“Twenty. Coming up on twenty-one next month. When I was seventeen, my mom went in my room to use my computer, because hers was broken, and she saw some gay porn sites in my browsing history. It was my own fault. I always deleted my history after going to those sites, but I’d been on a marathon masturbating streak the night before and after my last orgasm, I fell into bed and passed out.

“When I came home from school, my dad was waiting for me. He asked me to explain the sites. I told him I couldn’t explain them any other way than I liked watching them because I was gay. I always knew if he found out I was into guys, he’d either kill me or kick me out. I guess I should be glad he didn’t kill me, but then again, considering where I ended up, maybe not.

“I didn’t have anywhere to go. I was too embarrassed to go to any friends’ houses. I’d hid my sexuality from everyone, and I was afraid if I did go to someone else for help, they or their parents would do the same thing, kick me to the curb. I was running the streets in Atlanta for about three months before Wesley and a couple of his servants came across me. He offered me a roof over my head, food, a bed, and that was all I cared about. From what he said about this place, I had the impression it was some kind of underground sex club, and I was okay with that. I was tired and hungry and scared. I didn’t care who he was, I just wanted to feel safe and have a full stomach.

“The thought of him being a vampire never crossed my mind. I mean, seriously, of all the things, it would be my shitty luck to get picked up by freakin’ mythical creature. I never knew vampires were real. Never even thought you guys could be. You were supposed to be stories told to little kids in the old days to keep them from going out at night. And in this day and age, the things of horror movies.”

Valentin offered him a sympathetic smile. “I understand. Even for myself, it was a shock when I first learned about vampires’ existence. Even more of one when it was my best friend and cousin, Basil, informing me of the fact by showing me his fangs. But as I learned then and have learned many times over the years, all legends hold some truth.” He stepped closer to Sebastian. “I’m sorry for how you found out about us. I’m sure it couldn’t have been easy.”

Sebastian snorted. “Putting it mildly.” His throat tightened with anger rising in him, not at Valentin, but at Wesley and all the vampires he’d met. “Do you have any idea how terrified I was the first time a vampire took my blood? Can you even imagine? I was fully alert. No trance used on me. Wesley wanted me to know the whole experience, because that’s how things are done here. The blood slaves need to be obedient enough where vampires don’t have to use their power to make a blood slave submit. So good ol’ Master Wesley had me held down while a vampire stole my blood.

“In the three fucking years I’ve been a prisoner here, I’ve never once gotten to go outside. There’re no phones, no internet, and no TV, but I guess I can’t complain, because there’s a huge library and I know I’ve gotten smarter from reading so much. Not a bad thing, since I never got the chance to finish high school. Of course, all the books are Master Wesley approved, so nothing about vampires to help give us blood slaves a little more knowledge on our masters.

“And food, it’s regulated, too. Healthy shit to keep us recovering from being sucked on all the time. I’d give both my nuts for a piece of pizza with extra bacon and a Pepsi. So that’s been my life and that’s why I’ve got a shitty fucking attitude.”

Valentin opened his mouth to speak, but only a breath came out, as he seemed too shocked for words.

Sebastian turned away from him, leaning forward and bracing both hands on the nightstand. He closed his eyes tight. He was losing it, cracking deeper than he realized. With almost every word he spoke, he was bringing on his death. And he couldn’t even control himself. All he’d spoken to Valentin had poured out of him.

Maybe it’s what happened to all blood slaves. Eventually, if they lived this life long enough, they cracked. Still, he felt bad for talking so harshly to Valentin. None of what’d happened to him was Valentin’s fault.

Sebastian straightened his posture and took a deep breath, resting his hands on his hips. “Looks like now I’m the one who needs to say he’s sorry. I didn’t mean to dump all that shit on you.”

“You needn’t apologize to me. Besides, I was the one who asked.”

Sebastian let out a single, humorless laugh. “Regretting that yet?”

“Not at all.”

Sebastian turned around, giving him a curious look. “No offense, but you’re kind of an odd vampire.”

Valentin laughed softly. “Some would say I’m an odd individual all the way around.” He walked toward Sebastian. “I think, though, the problem here is you were taken in by the wrong kind of vampire. Certainly we can all have our beastly moments, but this group—and by that I mean Wesley—seems to be more uncouth than is usual. What I don’t understand is, if you hate it here so much, why have you renewed your blood contract each year?”

Sebastian shook his head in confusion. “What’re you talking about?”

“Blood contracts are usually for the duration of one year. After that, the blood slave can either renew with their patron or house, or they can leave.”

“That’s great if other blood slaves are given that option. Wesley’s never once asked me about renewing my contract and I don’t even know what the thing said. I never got the chance to read it. I was jacked in the cheek, held down, and had a pen shoved in my hand. I was too afraid to do anything except sign it. I really don’t even know what the point of a blood contract is. It’s not as if I could take him to court for any violations in it.”

“Not to human court, no. But among vampires, a blood contract marks who owns you and whom you serve so others can’t claim you.” Valentin stood quiet for a long moment. As he spoke, his voice was low, anger underlying his tone. “The fact you’ve been able to survive as long as you have is testament to what a strong will you have.”

Sebastian held his thoughts, stopping himself from saying his will was growing weaker by the day. That it wouldn’t be long before it burned out completely. What would it matter if he did make that confession? It wasn’t as if Valentin was a knight in shining armor come to rescue him. Or maybe prince charming was more fitting, given Valentin had surpassed knightly status to princehood among vampires. He’d done more than enough confessing for one night, anyway.

Sebastian glanced back to the drawer. “Yeah, I guess. Thanks. But I know you didn’t come here to waste your time talking to a blood slave. I already got the lube out, is there anything else you want? There’re dildos, vibes, plugs, paddles, restraints…”

His voice trailed off as Valentin stepped close to his side. His arm brushed Valentin’s chest, and that single accidental touch sent his heart racing. Sebastian took a deep breath to settle himself, only to have it backfire with pulling in Valentin’s alluring scent, a subtle intoxicating spice.

Valentin pushed the drawer closed. He leaned toward Sebastian, bringing his lips close to Sebastian’s ear. “What I want is, to know if you feel any desire toward me, and if you want to give me your blood of your own free will.”

Sebastian slowly faced him. With Valentin slightly taller than him, he tipped his head back to meet Valentin’s gaze. Those frosted blue eyes…it was as though they could look through him and know his thoughts. And actually, Valentin could. He hadn’t felt him try to touch his mind yet, but all vampires had that ability. But it was more than Valentin’s power, those beautiful eyes made him feel things he’d only dreamed of.

Feelings, though, were the last things that mattered here, and he wouldn’t let himself be swayed by them. “You can answer that for yourself.”

“If you’re referring to my ability to sense the arousal coming off you right now, then yes, that basic part of my question is answered. However…” An arrogant smirk tipped up one corner of Valentin’s lips. “I have that effect on nearly everyone I meet, so I wanted to ensure your mind and heart are in agreement with your body.”

Sebastian felt another smile rising to his lips. Goddamn it. Valentin might be a bloodsucking monster, but he was liking this vampire prince more by the minute. And growing more attracted to him. “Well, if you wanted to know if my mind was in agreement, all you’d have to do is take a look.”

“Are you giving me permission to do so?”

“You don’t need permission. Again, you can do what you want to me.”

Valentin curled his finger under Sebastian’s chin and tipped his head up. “How about we do without Master Wesley’s rules, hmm?”

Sebastian had no response. He’d lived so long not being given a choice in anything, now that he had one, he didn’t know what to do. He wasn’t even sure how to handle his arousal.

He wet his lips, catching Valentin’s gaze lowering to his tongue. As Valentin looked up again, lust warmed his eyes. There was no doubt Valentin wanted him. That was another thing he didn’t know how to deal with. He’d gotten picked off the streets for his looks, because Wesley knew others would want him, but the heat in Valentin’s gaze was more than he’d ever seen in anyone’s.

“And your answer is…?” Valentin prompted.

“You said you value the truth, right?”

Valentin nodded.

“Then no, my mind isn’t in harmony with my body. It’s confused. And I don’t listen to my heart. I don’t even give it a chance to feel what it wants. If I did, I would’ve been dead long ago.”

Valentin gazed into Sebastian’s eyes for a long moment. He bowed his head and took a step back. “That’s all the answer I need.” He moved away from him, walking toward the chair.

Panic rose in Sebastian. He didn’t understand it and it went along with all his other confusion, but he didn’t want Valentin to leave. He rushed a few steps after him. “You’re not going, are you?”

Valentin collected his vest and suit jacket, slinging both over his forearm. “Yes, I am. I only take blood and have sex with those who wholly desire me.”


Valentin swung around to face him. “Excuse me?”

Glaring at him, Sebastian closed the distance between them. “I said, bullshit. You’re a vampire. You can’t tell me you don’t use your power, mind reading, entrancement, persuasion, to get what you want out of people. And I can’t believe you’re going to stand there and tell me you won’t take my blood because I’m feeling a little confused about you. I know for damn sure you never tell people you’re feeding from, unless they’re a blood slave, that you’re going to take their blood. It’d blow your whole human cover.”

Valentin tossed his vest and jacket over the chair again, folding his arms. “Your points do have some validity, however, I use my powers to ensure a person’s desire for me, hence, I rarely use persuasion. Entrancement is necessary, because as you pointed out, unless one is a blood slave, another vampire, a demon, or another who knows of us, it’s prudent to keep our existence unknown. With you being a blood slave, I was simply trying to show you respect by giving you a choice.”

“Being a blood slave isn’t about making choices. It’s about doing what you’re told. Just like how you told me to speak freely and now you’re using that against me by walking out the door.”

Valentin took the single step separating them. “I’m not using it against you.”

Sebastian forced himself to ignore his arousal and that it seemed connected to how close Valentin came to him. “No? Do you have any idea what’ll happen to me if you walk out of here and Wesley thinks I didn’t please you? That I mouthed off and drove you away? He’ll beat me and torture me until I’m dead. I know my time’s running out anyway, but I’d really rather it expire at the hands of some random vamp than give him the satisfaction of killing me.”

“I could explain I’d lost my desire.”

Sebastian snorted. “Like he’d buy that.”

Valentin gazed at him in silence for a long moment. As he spoke again, he voice was husky and low. “If you say you want me to stay and that you want to give me your blood and body, then I’ll stay.”

Sebastian clenched his jaw shut. He didn’t know if Valentin wanted him to admit those things for his own assurance or if this was some power game, trying to make him feel weak by saying he wanted him. What he said was true, if Valentin left, Wesley would beat him bloody. Maybe not to death, because that’d be an inconvenience, but the probability was high. Trying to avoid that really was part of him wanting Valentin to stay. The other parts…those were exactly what Valentin wanted him to confess.

Sebastian swallowed in an attempt to loosen his tight throat. He reached with a tentative hand toward Valentin, so unused to making the first move. He rested it on Valentin’s chest, the pectoral firm beneath his palm, the heat of Valentin’s body seeping through his shirt. That was one thing about vampires he hadn’t expected. He’d thought they would be cold since they were supposed to be dead, but as he found out, they weren’t dead. At least, he didn’t think so. Vampires had heartbeats and pulses, so they couldn’t be dead…probably.

It was just one of many things about vampires he didn’t understand and was sure he’d die without knowing. Just as he had no idea how they became vampires. All he knew about them was they fucked hard, drank blood, didn’t age, had special powers, and didn’t like the sun. Really, what else did he need to know?

Sebastian took Valentin’s hand and stepped backward toward the bed. “You said you could sense the arousal off me. Do you know how long it’s been since anyone’s turned me on?”

Valentin walked slowly with him. “No, I don’t.”

“Neither do I. It was before I came here, I know that much. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed some of the sex once it’s going. There’ve been a handful of vamps who’ve tried to make it okay for me. But as far as feeling as if I wanted them or was attracted to them, that hasn’t happened.”

The arrogant smirk with its wicked edge returned to Valentin’s lips. “So you’re saying you’re attracted to me?”

“If that’s how you want to take it.”

“It is, but is that how you mean it?”

Reaching the bedside, Sebastian put his back to him. “You’re really making this more difficult than it needs to be, trying to bring all these emotions into it. How do you want me? Standing and leaning over the bed? On my hands and knees?”

Valentin pressed against him, slipping an arm around Sebastian’s waist and pulling him back so Sebastian’s ass nestled against his crotch. “Let’s just see how we end up. And you’re very good at dodging questions, by the way.”

“Yeah, it’s a developed skill.” Sebastian’s concentration wavered as Valentin’s hard cock pressed against him. Even with the soft cloth of Valentin’s pants between them, his own cock responded, filling fast. Valentin caressed Sebastian’s chest, the touch so soft, so gentle. No one ever touched him in such a way.

Valentin brushed Sebastian’s hair back, exposing his neck. He placed a tender kiss on the curve. “Where do you like to have your blood taken from? Your neck? Your wrist? Your groin?”

More choices. Why was Valentin doing this? Did Valentin really want to treat him as if he was an equal? Give him respect? In a way, it was almost more cruel than how most vampires shoved him to the bed and did whatever they wanted to him. How Valentin was treating him fed his hope, and that hope would make him guard his life believing an escape from this hell could happen someday. Whatever Valentin was trying to do, he wasn’t going to let it affect him.

“Just do whatever you want.”

Valentin sighed against Sebastian’s neck. “You’re very difficult. If you want to continue to play by the house master’s rules and not express what you want, then I’ll follow my own and do what I’m certain you’ll enjoy.”

Valentin spun him around, sinking his fingers in Sebastian’s hair and closing them in a tight fist. He lowered his head, touching his lips to Sebastian’s.

Sebastian tensed. A high, startled noise sounded in his throat.

Valentin drew back, confusion in his eyes and expression. “What’s wrong?”

“I…it’s just, I don’t get kissed much. Like, at all. Ever.”

“I thought you said some vampires tried to make it good for you.”

“Yeah, by doing a little prep work instead of just shoving their dick in, using lots of lube, and stroking my cock. Kissing…it doesn’t even cross my mind as being part of it. Not anymore. When I was younger it did, but I lost all thoughts about that after being here.”

Valentin studied him for a moment. “Please tell me that wasn’t your first kiss.”

“Not technically. I dated a girl in high school for a while, to keep my cover of really wishing I could date a guy, and I kissed her a few times.”

“So then, you’ve never kissed a man?”

“Up until a moment ago? No.”

“Then we’ll have to remedy that. We won’t count those other kisses with the girl or the one I just gave you. I’ll give you a better one, with you prepared for it this time.”

Once more, Sebastian felt himself smiling. It’d become such a rare thing for him to smile in the past three years, he was now acutely aware each time he did it. In his short time with Valentin, he’d smiled more than he had in months combined. “I like that idea.”

“Then I’m glad for the honor of giving you your first kiss.”

Valentin brushed his thumb over Sebastian’s lips. He lifted his other hand, gently cupping Sebastian’s cheek. Angling his head, he brought his lips close to Sebastian’s.

Sebastian felt Valentin’s warm breath wash over his lips. His anticipation grew. He leaned, ever so slightly, toward him. A deep, hushed moan came to his ears, as though Valentin appreciated his moving closer, asking for the kiss. Sebastian rested his hand on Valentin’s chest, no hesitation this time. He wanted it. Valentin’s kiss, his body, all the things the vampire prince promised.

Valentin touched their lips together, soft, gentle, keeping the kiss chaste for several quick heartbeats. He sucked Sebastian’s bottom lip. Without thought, Sebastian opened his mouth wider for him. Valentin accepted the invitation, sliding his tongue over Sebastian’s, closing their mouths together.

As Valentin’s soft tongue massaged his, Sebastian let his defenses drop. He wrapped his arms around him, thrusting his tongue along Valentin’s. Valentin sucked Sebastian’s tongue, ended the kiss with a light nip to Sebastian’s bottom lip, then claimed his mouth again. He caressed down Sebastian’s back and slipped his arm around him, pulling Sebastian in…

Copyright 2015 by S.J. Frost and MLR Press

Friday, November 20, 2015

Writing Update: End of 2015 - 2016 Projects

It's been a long, loooong time since I've given a writing update, but I have lots of good stuff to share now! I'm currently working on, or will be starting soon, some projects that I'm very excited about, along with releases that I can't wait to get out there. Here's how things are looking for the rest of 2015 and 2016 in my little writing world.

My next release is going to be the re-release of Vampire Prince. Woooo hoooo! I'm beyond ecstatic to have this book come out again! I love this story and all the guys, Valentin, Sebastian, Basil, Sal, and now that it has been revised and edited, I think it's better than ever. The core of the story is still the same, but it's been polished, and about 1,000-2,000 words were added. It is now the first in my new series, Paranormal Nobles. I can't tell you the relief and happiness I have with this book being in the hands of MLR Press. The book and series have a bright future now! And for me, well, I'm really looking forward to actually getting paid royalties for all the copies that are sold ;-) Vampire Prince will release on November 27, 2015, and it will be my last release for 2015.

Next up, will be my first release for the shiny new year of 2016, Book 3 in the Terra series, Song of Souls. This book has been a long time in the making, and it turned out to be one of my longest stories, just over 100,000 words. I loved writing it and being in Terra again. It's finished now and handed in to my editor at MLR Press. This one will be Lark and Zain's story, and as of right now, we're looking toward a February release.

And now that takes me into my current writing projects and soon to be projects. As of this moment, I'm working on Terra 4. I went right from finishing Terra 3 into this one. I figured with how long it took me to finish the third book, this would help me get a jump start on the last one. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll have it finished and ready for a late 2016 release, but time will tell if that'll happen as I work on it.

My other main project is the sequel to Vampire Prince. This will come out next year! My editor and I are talking about a May 2016 release, and I'm going to work very hard to make that happen. I can't wait to bring all the guys back in a new adventure. It does have a tentative title at the moment, Demon Duke.

2016 will also bring a new novella, Heart's Gamble, about a horse rescuer and a Thoroughbred trainer. I've mentioned this one a few times, and because it had been previously held by the-publisher-who-must-not-be-named, it seemed like it was never going to see the light of day. But I did get this one back too, and it's been worked into my schedule to release from MLR Press.

Model Love will also be getting re-released in 2016, after a few rounds of revising and editing. It's going to be great to get that one out again too, and we're looking toward late summer/early fall on that one coming back through MLR Press.

Now for projects that I haven't started yet, but I have hope to begin in 2016, I'm planning another Instincts book and....let me take a deep breath...writing a little something with Tanner from Heartstrings in the Conquest series. Here's hoping I can get to both of those and that Tanner will behave (as much as he's capable of, anyhow), when I work on his story. I'm not sure if either story will be finished in time for a 2016 release, but I'd like to start writing them.

And there you have it! What things are looking like for the next several months with my releases and projects. Other than those that have a hammered in release date, things are subject to change and fluctuate as the year will go on, but this is what things are looking like at this moment.

My endless gratitude and appreciation to everyone for all your support and sticking with me and my work. I hope you'll enjoy all the stories that are to come!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Vampire Prince - New Cover Art

Hello, everyone! I'm ecstatic to share with you all the shiny new cover for Vampire Prince! I had wanted a cover that would be very vampy, but also have class and sophistication, to match the gentleman that Prince Valentin is. I have to say, I'm in love with this cover and I think it's absolutely perfect!

I must give credit where it's due. This cover was made through Scarlet Tie Designs by amazing author and artist, Zathyn Priest. My heartfelt thanks goes out to him for using his beautiful talent to create this cover. He surpassed what I'd hoped for and delivered something even better. You may notice on the cover that it says Paranormal Nobles. This is the series name now, since a sequel will be coming :-)

Along with the new cover, the book has a new blurb and a tentative release date. Valentin, Sebastian, Sal, and Basil will make their return on November 27th. I've been revising, revising, and revising some more on the manuscript, and just this week, sent it off to my awesome editor at MLR Press. It's on the road to re-release now!

Thank you, so incredibly much, to everyone for the support and kindness that you've shown. I'm looking forward to this book's return and what's to come!

Three years ago, Sebastian Beaumont, was starving and struggling on the streets. An offer for safety and shelter was nothing but the lies of a vampire. Since then, he’s been trapped, surrendering his blood and body as a blood slave to vampires, all for the hope of gaining one more day of life and maybe, someday, his freedom.

Having crossed more than three hundred years of life, Valentin Wyndham, is a prince among vampires. Memories of betrayal still haunt him and love isn’t something he seeks. When his need for blood becomes too strong, he breaks his usual habits and visits a blood house. Though he tries to resist, he can’t help but be captivated by the beautiful Sebastian.

Unable to deny the intensity between them, Valentin frees Sebastian from the blood house, but danger follows them both from those who don’t want to let Sebastian go.

September Reader Appreciation Day - The Prize List!

Hello, everyone! This Saturday, September 19th, is Reader Appreciation Day and Open Excerpt Day over at The Sweet Spot. There's going to be a fantastic group of prizes offered! Sloan, Jambrea, and I give our thanks to all the authors who have donated to the giveaway! And readers, if you'd like to learn a little more about the prizes you could win tomorrow, feel welcomed to click on the links for each book/author and check them out :D

  • Karenna Colcroft - PDF copy of SALAD ON THE SIDE
  • Megan Linden - ebook copy of SERVE & PROTECT (1st winner)
  • Megan Linden - ebook copy of SERVE & PROTECT (2nd winner)
  • DP Denman - ebook copy of BLUE (due out 9/25/15)
  • Marie Sexton - ebook copy of winner's choice from backlist
  • Chris McHart - ebook copy of SMALL STEPS
  • Leigh Ellwood - ebook copy of winner's choice from backlist
  • ARe Books - one ebook copy of winner's choice from their OUT FOR YOU collection. Authors include Daisy Harris, Sean Michael, B.A. Tortuga, Shannon West, Amber Kell, Sam Crescent, Jenika Snow, Sara York, and Lexxie Couper. Anastasia Vitsky and Leigh Ellwood have FF books in this collection. (1st winner)
  • ARe Books - one ebook copy of winner's choice from their OUT FOR YOU collection. (2nd winner)
  • ARe Books - one ebook copy of winner's choice from their OUT FOR YOU collection. (3rd winner)
  • VS Morgan - ebook copy of HUNTER'S MARK
  • L.M. Brown - ebook copy of TEMPESTUOUS TIDES
  • Cherie Noel - ebook copy of STORMING LOVE: FLOOD--SAM & PATRIC
  • BLMorticia - ebook copy of UNDER THE GUN
  • Evelise Archer - ebook copy of THE LEGEND OF THE DIAMOND GLOBE
  • Evelise Archer - $5 gift card to Amazon
  • Sloan Parker - ebook copy of winner's choice from backlist
  • Jambrea Jo Jones - ebook copy of winner's choice from backlist
  • S.J. Frost - ebook copy of winner's choice from backlist

If there are authors who would still like to donate a prize, you're more than welcomed to. All you have to do is send out an email to:  Please state what you'd like to donate for the September giveaway, include a link to your work and a cover art pic. Reader Appreciation Day is also an Open Excerpt Day, so all M/M authors are invited to stop by the Yahoo group, share excerpts and your latest news! No prize donation needed for you to be able to hang out with us and share what you've got going on!

Readers, be sure you swing by and see what some of your favorite authors have been up to and maybe discover a new favorite, too! We put on this day all for you! And don't forget to enter in the giveaway on the Yahoo group!

The prize list will be posted throughout the day at The Sweet Spot Yahoo group, starting at 8:00 am EST. To enter in the giveaway, all you have to do is reply to one of the Giveaway emails. Reader Appreciation Day wraps up about 8:00 pm EST, with the winners announced shortly thereafter. Authors who have donated a prize will be contacted after the giveaway closes with their winner's information so you can send your prize personally. 

Hope to see everyone tomorrow at The Sweet Spot!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Partial Victory

Some of you may remember a while back that I was having some...issues with a publisher that held three of my books, Ellora's Cave. I know that in these past several months, I've fallen silent about that. Unfortunately, it hasn't been because all was well. There have been a lot of things that have happened in that time, but I've been quiet because I've been working on getting the rights back to my three books published there; Model Love, Vampire Prince, and Kissing Cody Starr. My emotions regarding the situation have been running extremely high, and I know myself well enough to know when nothing good is going to come out of my mouth --or through my fingers--so I've opted to keep quiet.

But now I'm happy to share some fantastic news. I've received my letter of reversion from Ellora's Cave for two of my books, Model Love and Vampire Prince. I have obtained full publishing rights back to these two titles!

I can't even begin to tell you the sheer joy I have in getting these two books back. Negotiations had to be done, and while the outcome was hard on me financially, what I've gained emotionally from having these two books returned to me is huge. I did not, however, get my rights back on Kissing Cody Starr, so that title will be staying with Ellora's Cave for a while longer. I'm disappointed about that, but I'll continue pushing forward to get that title back, as well.

What this means for Model Love and Vampire Prince is soon those books will no longer be available. They'll be pulled down from Ellora's Cave's website and all their vendor sites. I've already removed their covers and excerpts from my website. This does not mean, however, that they'll be gone forever.

Since knowing I would be getting my rights back, another tough decision came to me. What should I do with the books? I love these stories and I want to keep sharing them with readers, and so I decided to  find a new publishing house to be a home for the stories. I didn't have to look far. With the compassion and support they've always shown me, MLR Press is going to give Vampire Prince and Model Love a new home.

MLR is where all my books are published, and they've always treated me and my work with respect. Owner and author, Laura Baumbach, and Executive Editor, Kris Jacen, are two amazing ladies of the highest integrity who are very sharp in the publishing business. I've never worried about my work that I've put into MLR's hands, and I know Vampire Prince and Model Love will be well taken care of with them.

I'll be going through the stories and doing a round (or several) of thorough revisions. I'll get to put some of my touches that had been taken out of the books, back in. Once I go over them, then they'll go through content editing, line editing, and proofing with Kris and MLR's editing team. Since there is some work to do, along with making new cover art, the re-release for the books won't be immediate, but we're going to try to have Vampire Prince ready to come out again later this year.

Going through this situation with Ellora's Cave has been a heavy burden. It's worn me down and has clawed away at my creative spirit. I'll admit, before word came of getting my rights back to Model Love and Vampire Prince, I was resolved to walk away from writing for a while. The only thing that have kept me writing has been working with my beloved guys from the Conquest, Instincts, and Terra series. And though it's still hanging over me that I haven't yet gotten back Kissing Cody Starr, getting back Model Love and Vampire Prince has given me the boost I've needed and has me feeling positive once again.

My thanks to everyone for the support that's been shown through this situation!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

New Release: Protective Instincts

And they're back! I'm absolutely thrilled to announce the return of my Instincts vampires! Book 6, Protective Instincts, is now live at MLR Press! And a day sooner than expected! And it won't be long before it's hitting Amazon, AllRomance eBooks, and other vendors. Woo hoo!

I've said it more than once and in more than one place, but I so loved writing this story. Same as I loved writing Acting on Love, which was released earlier in the year. Whenever I go back to one of my series, whether it's Conquest, Instincts, or Terra, it always feels like hanging out again with loved and familiar friends :-) With Protective Instincts featuring Daniel and Ryunosuke in the lead roles, it felt especially this way. I hope everyone who picks it up will enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it!

Daniel Valente and Ryunosuke Kimura knew each other for centuries, and when Daniel saw the love Ryu had for him and how it had endured for lifetimes, their lives became forever entwined. In recognizing that love, the two vampires became eternal partners, those with a bond deep and unbreakable.

They’re living in peace and happiness, until a call comes inviting Ryunosuke to interview for the Tribunal, the ruling body of vampire society. Both Daniel and Ryu know everything is about to change. Danger will come with the position and the greatest threat may be from one of the Tribunal members. Daniel and Ryunosuke’s protective instincts are strong, their love even stronger, but when old grudges demand retribution, will those instincts be enough to keep each other safe?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sneak Peek Excerpt: Protective Instincts

Hello, everyone! I'm very excited that in just a few short days, on August 28th, my next book, Protective Instincts, will be going live at MLR Press! It won't take long for it then to roll out to Amazon and other vendors.

This one is the 6th book in my Instincts series. I absolutely loved getting back to my Instincts vamps and working with them again. This one felt a bit like getting back to my roots with having Daniel and Ryunosuke, two of the original characters from Natural Instincts and Enduring Instincts, in the lead roles. And of course, with Daniel and Ryu leading the way, that means some other familiar faces will be seen too ;-)

For sharing a sneak peek, I took a bit out of Chapter 2. This excerpt gives some hints as to the conflict that'll be happening in the story.

My deepest gratitude to everyone who has stuck with the Instincts series this far. And my appreciation to everyone who's picking it up for the first time. I hope all will enjoy hanging out with my Instincts vampires!

Daniel Valente and Ryunosuke Kimura knew each other for centuries, and when Daniel saw the love Ryu had for him and how it had endured for lifetimes, their lives became forever entwined. In recognizing that love, the two vampires became eternal partners, those with a bond deep and unbreakable.

They’re living in peace and happiness, until a call comes inviting Ryunosuke to interview for the Tribunal, the ruling body of vampire society. Both Daniel and Ryu know everything is about to change. Danger will come with the position and the greatest threat may be from one of the Tribunal members. Daniel and Ryunosuke’s protective instincts are strong, their love even stronger, but when old grudges demand retribution, will those instincts be enough to keep each other safe?

Incessant chiming roused Daniel. He growled low in his throat. “Who the bloody hell is calling?”

Ryunosuke slapped his hand down on the nightstand. His voice, tinted with a Japanese accent, left him rough and deep with sleep. “Someone who’s not going to be happy when I answer.” The chiming stopped before Ryu managed to smack a hand down on the phone. He picked it up, holding it above his face as he rubbed one eye and looked up at the name on his screen…Titus. “It was Cal.”

“Figures. Just because he’s up at an unholy hour, he feels everyone else should be, too.”

Ryunosuke chuckled softly. “It’s three o’clock in the afternoon.”

“Either way, he should be more considerate that we may still be in bed.”

“But to be fair to him, that could be at any time with us and we have been in bed all day.”

Lying on his stomach, Daniel propped himself up on his elbows. He lowered his head, placing a kiss on Ryunosuke’s smooth chest. “And what a glorious day it’s been.”

Daniel curled his fingers over the top of the burgundy silk sheet and plush comforter, sliding both lower to reveal more of Ryu’s muscular torso. He willed his nails to shift to claws and dragged the pointed tip of his index down the center of Ryu’s chest ever so lightly, going toward the hard abs. His touch earned him a pleasure-filled moan from Ryunosuke.

Daniel flicked his gaze up to Ryu’s face. Ryunosuke had his eyes closed, his head tipped back slightly on the pillow making the veins in his neck press closer to the surface of his skin. On the left side, over one thick vein, were two puncture marks from when he’d fed from Ryunosuke a few hours earlier. The marks were already fading, the healing quality of his saliva making it so the marks would soon be gone completely, but it wouldn’t be long before he’d mark Ryu again.

His samurai. His protector. His partner and love.

Even when he didn’t realize it, Ryu had always been there for him. And when he did realize it, when he opened his heart to the enduring love that had always been there, he found himself consumed by it. He’d lived for centuries and only now with his eternal partner, could he say he’d found true happiness.

Daniel caressed Ryunosuke’s cheek. He moved his hand down to Ryu’s ebony hair, fanned across the pillow. He curled a strand around his finger, then let it slowly slide off to lay on Ryunosuke’s chest. Ryu usually wore it bound in a long ponytail, but he loved when Ryu wore it down, especially when Ryu was on top of him and that silken hair would fall forward to brush along his cheek and neck.

Ryunosuke slowly opened his eyes, their color so dark they were nearly black, and met Daniel’s gaze. He laid his hand over Daniel’s. “I love it when you look at me like that.”

Daniel folded his arms on Ryunosuke’s chest and rested his chin on them. “I’m not sure how I’m looking at you, but I know what I’m feeling when I do.”

“What you’re feeling comes through in your eyes.” Ryunosuke ran a hand over Daniel’s hair. “That’s why I love it.”

Daniel took a breath to respond, pausing when the chiming of Ryunosuke’s phone interrupted. “Let me guess. Cal again.”

Ryunosuke held up his phone for Daniel to see the screen. “You may be the first vampire who really does have telepathic abilities.”

“No, his impatience is predictable.” Daniel snatched the phone from Ryu’s hand. “I’ll handle this.”

“I’m not sure—”

Daniel accepted the call and put the phone to his ear. “Cal, darling, to what do I owe the pleasure of you calling?”

Titus’s deep baritone voice, colored with annoyance, came through the phone. “You owe it to nothing. I was calling Ryu’s phone. Not yours.”

“What a rude little bugger you are. First calling and disrupting us in bed, then saying such a thing. It’s amazing my manners are as impeccable as they are with having you for a master.”

Titus snorted. “Yes, you’re a real charm school graduate. And all you two do is lie in bed. It’s time for Ryu to get his ass up and do something useful. Give him the phone.”

“As much as I would love to do that, we’re about to become otherwise engaged. If you could call back this evening, that’d be lovely.”

Titus’s voice shifted to a growling tone. “Daniel. Put Ryu on the phone.”

“Now that’s not a very pleasant tone of voice. I think I’m going to let you go until you decide to change it.” Daniel pulled the phone away from his ear, Titus’s voice bellowing, “Daniel!” and promptly getting cut off when Daniel ended the call. He turned a bright smile on Ryunosuke. “There. All taken care of.”

Ryunosuke shook his head. “No, I really don’t think it is.”

The phone chimed again with an incoming call.

Daniel glanced at it. “He’s always terrible when he doesn’t get his way.” He answered, putting the phone to his ear again. “My, my. Aren’t we living up to our cognomen today and being the stubborn little hot head?”

“That’s not what it means!” Titus paused. “Not completely what it means.” His voice sharpened again. “I didn’t call to debate with you. I need to talk to Ryu.”

“Who said we’re debating? I’m having a perfectly lovely conversation.”

“Put Ryu on the phone! Now!”

Daniel shifted his voice to a singsong pitch. “Wrong tone of voice again. Good-bye.” This time, he disconnected faster than Titus could yell.

Speaking through his laughter, Ryunosuke reached for the phone. “You better let me answer it if he calls back, before you make his head explode.”

Daniel relinquished the phone to Ryu. “There are no ifs about it. He will call back.”

As if in reply to his words, the phone chimed.
“I’ll take it from here,” Ryunosuke said and answered the phone. “Hey, it’s me.”

“It’s about damn time!” Titus roared.

“You know, Daniel was right. Your tone could do with an adjustment.”

“I have this tone because of him. He always was a brat, but he’s becoming an insufferable one now. You need to stop spoiling him and letting him get away with whatever he wants.”

Ryunosuke’s attention and gaze drifted from the conversation as Daniel climbed out of bed. He drank in the flawlessness of Daniel’s ivory skin, his lean and toned body. Daniel’s cock jutted from a small patch of finely trimmed hair and was half up, the foreskin slipped back just enough to give a glimpse of the head; and Daniel’s shaven sac made Ryu want to move his tongue over the soft skin of it.

Walking toward the bathroom, Daniel glanced back at him, a knowing and sensual smile on his lips.

Ryunosuke kept his gaze on the round, firm curves of Daniel’s ass until he disappeared into the bathroom. He cleared his throat. “I’m pretty sure he’d enjoy any kind of discipline I’d give him.”

A single laugh came through the phone and Titus’s voice followed, calmer than before. “You’re probably right. I take it everything’s been well? Quiet?”

“Yes, very. Whenever we’ve ventured into London, any vampires we’ve come across have been nothing but polite and respectful. We haven’t had any excitement since Renart’s trial.”

“That’s good. It seems things are finally settling down and our society’s stabilizing again from the waves Isaac’s little rebellion caused. Bellerose and Troy are back in Chicago now. I’ve heard Bellerose’s followers have even welcomed Troy back, but then, that was anticipated.”

“Still got spies on them?”

“Have to. I don’t like it, but the majority in the Tribunal wanted it and honestly, I couldn’t argue their point. Especially if there’s even still the smallest chance of Bellerose becoming a district judge.”

“Amazing he has any chance with having a…I’ll call him, reformed traitor in his bed.”

Titus gave an amused snort. “That reformation was the only thing that kept his head on his neck, but yes, Bellerose does have that very heavily against him. What he has in his favor is that his influence in Chicago is undeniable.”

The bathroom door opened. Daniel stepped out with a black robe tied so loosely it barely had a point for being on him. His attention on Daniel again, Ryunosuke managed an, “uh huh”, into the phone.

Daniel stepped up to the foot of the bed. “I’m running down to the kitchen. Do you want anything?”

Ryunosuke shook his head, more focused on waiting for the folds of the robe to open and give him another glimpse of Daniel’s cock than forming a full answer.

Titus’s voice sounded in Ryunosuke’s ear. “Tell Daniel to put on some clothes so you can pay attention to what I’m saying.”

“He has clothes on. Sort of.”

Daniel walked along the bedside, drifting his fingers under the comforter to Ryunosuke’s thigh, then to Ryu’s hard cock pushing up against the sheet. He gave it a pump and rubbed his thumb over the slit. He winked at Ryu, then turned for the bedroom door.

Ryunosuke took a deep breath, trying to clear his mind. “Sorry. He just left to go downstairs.”

“You’re far too easy.”

“As if you’re any different with Andreas.”

“I can’t deny it. But now that Daniel’s gone and I’ve got your attention, we can talk. We were on track with talking about Bellerose. The Tribunal has the districts drawn up for local courts around the world and we feel we’re ready to begin establishing the courts and nominating judges, except for one small thing. We’re not even complete. Lady Geneviève has already stayed on much longer than she had promised after her daughter’s birth and we need to find a replacement for her. You know where I’m going with this, right?”

Ryunosuke did know. It was something he and Titus had talked about in recent months, but it still wasn’t something he was entirely sure about. “Yes, I do. But I’m undecided on if I want to pursue it or not.”

“I know, but I think it’d be good for you. Even more, it’d be good for all vampires, us as a society.”

Ryunosuke snorted. “Spoken like a true bureaucrat. They’re starting to rub off on you.”

“If you weren’t such a dear friend, I’d kick your ass for saying that. But, since you are a dear friend, I’m going to listen to you and agree. That was pretty bad, wasn’t it?”

Ryunosuke laughed. “It was.”

“Now do you see why I need you even more on the Tribunal? To help prevent me from turning into a bureaucrat.”

“It might be one of the main motivating factors for me to even consider it.”

“At least something’s motivating you to think about it. The other Tribunals have brought forth some nominations between them all, while I haven’t given any…yet. They all know I’m going to suggest you.” A smile came through with Titus’s words. “But I thought it would be good if you knew.”

“I appreciate the consideration, but you might be setting yourself up for failure. I’ll need a majority vote to get on, and other than you and Egill, I don’t think anyone else will vote for me.”

“Not true. I’m fairly certainly you’ll have Rajnish’s vote. That only means you’ll have one more to win over.”

“Well, I can tell you for sure who won’t give me his vote and he’s one of the main reasons I have my reservations about pursuing this. The more time he and I spend within any kind of reasonable proximity, the greater the chances of old grudges rearing their heads and one of us tearing out the other’s throat.”

“Or, you may find he’s not the old enemy you once knew. I’ll admit, he’s surprised me in the time since I’ve worked with him.”

Instant annoyance washed through Ryunosuke. His voice sounded tight as he spoke. “I’m glad you guys have gotten to be such good friends.”

“I didn’t mean it that way and we’re certainly not friends. All I mean is that I’m able to work beside him without wanting to open his throat with each passing minute.”

“That’s nice you have that control. I’m not so sure I do.”

Titus sighed. “If you really don’t think you can work beside him, then I won’t nominate you. I’ve known from the beginning you’ve been uncertain about it, both because of Li and the position in general. All I’m going to say is, you’re the only one I want in this position, beside me. You’re a great warrior and a strong leader.”

“I’ve never led anyone.”

“That’s what you think. What you don’t know is, others would follow you. You’re strong and intelligent and—”

“Scorned. I’ve always been an outcast for saying I was turned by a demon.”

“And through that, how many fucks did you give for attitudes others showed toward you? None. That’s the kind of strength the Tribunal needs. Someone who knows the truth and will stand by it even if everyone else doubts it.”

Ryunosuke replied with an indiscernible grumble. Damn Titus. He always knew how to get what he wanted. “I’ll bet back in your Centurion days, you could’ve convinced your legion to walk naked through fire.”

“If I said naked, they were pretty much game for anything. So, does that mean you’ll come to Vienna and go for this?”

“I guess it does. It’s not as though I have any pressing plans at the moment.”

Daniel walked into the bedroom carrying a bowl of sugar and a bowl of fresh strawberries, his favorite things to eat when first waking. The robe had spread more open on his chest, slipping slightly off his shoulders, probably from him moving around and not caring to fix it since he’d barely put it on to begin with.

“I take that last part back,” Ryunosuke said.

“Did Daniel just walk in?”


“Then I’ll let you go. I’ve got to get ready to meet with the others since I’m running behind thanks to his games.” Titus paused for a moment, his voice softened. “Thank you, Ryu.”

Ryunosuke grinned to himself. “If I’m getting a thank you, then this really must be important to you.”

“You know, I’m going to do all I can to avoid becoming a bureaucrat Tribunal member. You need to make sure Daniel doesn’t rub off on you and make you a brat.”

“Sorry, but there’s no way I’m ever going to make him stopping rubbing off on me.”

“You took that a little too literally. Either way, I’d never suggest you ask that of him. I might be rude, as Daniel says, but I’m not a complete ass.”

Ryunosuke burst out laughing. “I completely agree with that self-assessment.”

“And now, I’m going to end being rude and let you and him get to doing that literal action. I’ll call you tonight and let you know the reactions from the others when I nominate you, and with flight plans.”

“Perfect. Thanks. And, jokes aside, it really does mean a lot that you have trust in me to do this.”

“You always have my trust. I’ll talk to you soon.”

“All right. Bye.” Ryunosuke hung up the phone, gazing down at it for a moment before placing it on the nightstand.

Daniel slid onto the bed, lying on his side, the two bowls set on the bed before him. He dipped a strawberry into the sugar and took a bite. “And what did he want that couldn’t wait and that has you so flattered with his trust?”

“That it’s time for me to see if the Tribunal will accept me to fill the empty seat from Lady Geneviève.”

Daniel stared at him. He lowered his gaze, fixing it on the sugar bowl as he dipped in another strawberry. “I see.”

“You don’t sound very pleased or excited about the prospect.”

“No, I am.” Daniel exhaled a heavy sigh. “Somewhat.”

Ryunosuke shifted on the bed to be closer to him. “What is it? I thought this was something you wanted me to do.”

“It is…or it was.” Daniel shook his head. “I don’t know what I’m trying to say. When Cal first mentioned about you becoming part of the Tribunal, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity. But more time’s passed and it’s brought some concerns to mind.”

Ryunosuke laid his hand on Daniel’s arm. “Like what?”

Daniel lifted his gaze to Ryunosuke’s. “I’m worried it’ll put you in danger. Being on the Tribunal is a high profile position. Any vamp with a grudge or wanting revenge for a perceived wrong could come after you. Not to mention, someone who you already know doesn’t care much for the fact that you’re still breathing will be sitting only a couple of chairs away from you at every meeting.”

Ryunosuke picked up the bowls and moved them to the nightstand. He slid close to Daniel, caressing his cheek. “I’m not worried about random vamps coming at me. I’ve lived with that all my life and it can happen at any time. As far as Li Kang goes, I beat him once. If it comes down to it, I can do it again. With more permanent results.” He rested his forehead against Daniel’s, hushing his voice. “I’ll never let anything happen to me, because I know I need to live for you. And I will always, always protect you.”

His eyes closed, Daniel whispered. “I know. It’s foolish of me to have these worries.”

“No, it’s not. I think what’ll be best is to go to Vienna, see what the Tribunal has to say, and if it’ll even be offered to me. We’ll make the final decision from there. Together.”

“Perfect.” Daniel drew back, a smirk curving the corners of his lips. “Though, I must confess to one other little issue I have with all of this. I’ve gotten used to having you all to myself these past months. I’m going to be jealous of anyone taking your attention away from me.”

Ryunosuke slid a hand along Daniel’s neck, cupping the back of it under his hair. “But you’re the only one I’ll ever give this kind of attention to.”

He leaned forward and met Daniel in a kiss. Daniel parted his lips for him, and Ryunosuke eased his tongue into Daniel’s mouth. The sweetness of sugar and strawberries lingered on Daniel’s tongue. Lust shot through Ryunosuke. Thoughts of the Tribunal, of an old enemy returned, faded under his need for Daniel. In that moment, they had each other and that was all either of them needed…

© 2015 by S.J. Frost and MLR Press