When MLR published A Single Heartbeat in December, I had no plans to write anything else in that world. I thought it was just a one-off. But then Ben & Andras started whispering to me.
If you’ve been following this blog, then you’ve been with me through most of this journey… from the first spark of the idea through beta-ing and acceptance. Now, you get to see it all come to fruition.
I’m really excited to share this cover with you. It took quite a bit of back and forth between me and cover designer Melody Pond (who was lovely and sweet even when I wasn’t great at expressing what I was looking for), but it was totally worth it in the end. At least, I think so. What do you think?
Isn’t it sexy? *sigh*
I’ve mentioned before how much blurbing is a pain in the ass, but I’m also pretty happy with what I’ve come up with for that as well.
Sparked in the shadows, their passion burns brighter than any fire in Hell.
Formed at the dawn of civilization and risen through the ranks of demonkind to command legions, Andras has never cared for anything so much as his duty to humanity and the Creator.
There is nothing on Earth that could hold a candle to his sense of purpose.
Ben travels the world alone, intent on destroying rogue vampires, feral werewolves, and corrupt witches. For him, hunting is more than a job, it’s his life’s calling.
But there is more in Heaven and Earth than he ever imagined, and the revelation sets his shadowed world ablaze.
From the moment their eyes meet, the desire in Andras’ blood gives him a new mission: possess the rugged hunter. Will Ben resist the primal pull between them, or will he let the fire of the demon lord’s lust consume him?
A Kiss of Brimstone will go on sale June 9th, 2017 from MLR Press! In celebration of having an official cover & release date, I thought I would post a little excerpt here as well. For anyone who has read A Single Heartbeat, you might recognize a few people.
(No worries if you haven’t though, A Kiss of Brimstone can be read on its own. It’s just more fun if you’ve read both.)
Perhaps when they were done here, he’d go out onto the dancefloor and see if he could find himself someone to work off a little tension with. If he was lucky, maybe there was a horny lumberjack in the crowd below who’d be interested in manhandling him.
Unbidden, an image of the bronzed curves of the creature’s biceps and the ripples of his abdomen rose in Ben’s mind. He would have no trouble tossing Ben’s 6’2”, 187 pound body around. Pinning him down.
If he leaned over Ben, his long, wavy hair would fall forward, framing his square chin and tickling Ben’s face. Ben remembered the smoke and incense scent that had filled the alley when he landed, unlike anything he’d ever smelled before, the look in his amber eyes when he’d said Ben could stay, and the quirk of his plush, pink lips.
Blood pounded in his ears as he wondered what they would feel like against his, imagined that strange, snake-like tongue in his mouth. What would it feel like? And those big, blunt lower fangs…?
Ben shuddered and gulped some of the cool liquid in his glass, coughing when bubbles tickled the back of this throat. He turned his attention back to the pair opposite him, unsurprised to find them completely caught up in each other.
Reese and Will parted as soon as his gaze lit on them, both of them flushed and with kiss-swollen lips.
Part of Ben wanted to encourage them not to stop on his account. Though neither was really his type, they were both gorgeous, and he had no doubt they’d be hot together. But, he reminded himself yet again, he was here on business. He reached beneath the table and adjusted his erection into a more comfortable position.
Ben tapped his passcode into his phone and slid it across the table to Reese, hoping neither man noticed the slight tremble to his fingers.
“Those are the locations of the galleries Will suggested. Can you add anything?”
Reese’s thumb idly stroked Will’s knuckles while he read over Ben’s notes. The movement drew Ben’s attention to the split, barely healed skin. Will noticed his glance and shrugged.
“Hazard of the job, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Ben agreed.
He’d had more busted knuckles and broken fingers than he could count. Ramming a wooden stake into a vamp’s chest hard enough to completely pierce the heart took a lot of force. And they didn’t just stand still and let you do it, either.
Will spun his almost empty beer bottle on the table. “Just got back from Atlantic City. A baby bloodsucker was picking off drunks along the boardwalk. Sloppy too. Took me all of a day to track him to an abandoned arcade. The police were probably twelve hours behind me.”
Ben whistled. Human law enforcement getting involved was always bad news.
“I had a job in New Orleans last year, during Mardi Gras. The vamp was feeding in the middle of the street. Plain view of anyone just walking by.” He shook his head.
Will’s pale brows rose. “Shit! That was you? I heard about that.”
“I was lucky. You can get away with just about anything during Mardi Gras. Especially if you’re in costume.” He waggled his eyebrows, earning a hearty laugh from the other hunter.
Will held up his beer bottle. “Never a dull moment in this life, eh?”
Ben clinked his glass against the bottle, trying very hard not to think about the man—demon—from the alley.
They shared a smile as they sipped their drinks. Though his night had started off oddly, Ben felt a thread of happiness swirl through him. He liked Will. He seemed easy to be around, smart, knew when to talk and when to keep his mouth shut. And he had a sense of humor. Ben sensed the other hunter would make a good friend.
Maybe he would keep in touch when he left the city. Swing by for a drink next time he was passing through, even if there wasn’t a job involved.
Reese slid Ben’s phone back across the table. “I added one other place I thought might be worth checking out, from what I know of Pierre, but Will’s list is surprisingly comprehensive.”
He picked up the phone, reading over the augmented list, and tipped a nod at Reese. “Thanks.”
“Hey,” Will shoved lightly at Reese’s shoulder. “I think I take issue with the ‘surprisingly’ bit, vampire.”
“Oh?” Reese pulled Will into his arms, his eyes glinting in the low light of the club. “You still know where to find me, hunter.”
Will leaned in and sucked Reese’s lower lip into his mouth.
Ben considered leaving the two men alone. Will said he’d just gotten back from a job. And, technically, his business with the other hunter was concluded. But he felt incredibly comfortable with Will, and Reese too. Even their obvious desire for each other didn’t bother him.
It intrigued him, honestly.
Though he’d known he was gay since before he went through puberty, he hadn’t exactly spent much time around many same sex couples in the years since. He knew more than a few hunters who identified somewhere other than straight on the sexuality spectrum, but like him, they were single.
He’d heard of some retired hunters who had married. And he knew of one lesbian couple in Denmark who, like his parents, both came from a family of hunters. But that was it. A hunter’s life wasn’t very conducive to marriage and family.
Watching Will and Reese together sparked something in his gut that warmed him.
Indigo arrived with a fresh tray of drinks balanced on her hand. Will didn’t wave her off this time, too busy sliding his tongue into Reese’s mouth. The blue-haired waitress gave Ben a little shrug. He nodded at the amorous pair.
“Are they always like this?”
She snickered. “Oh, man. Always.” She set a fresh glass in front of him. “You wouldn’t believe it now, but I worked here before Will showed up. Boss man used to be like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Only much sexier.”
Ben slid a glance at Reese, who had pulled his mouth free from Will’s to scowl at Indigo.
“And what is that supposed to mean, young lady?”
“What? It’s true. You were always up in your tower, brooding. You never came down to the club unless Sebastián dragged you.” She grinned. “And then this one showed up…”
She nodded at Will, who was ignoring their conversation to kiss down the side of Reese’s neck. One of his hands had disappeared beneath Reese’s suit coat. The vampire managed to look haughty and elegant still, despite the flush to his cheeks and the fact that Will’s impatient fingers had mussed his hair.
“Thank you for your input, Indigo. You can go now.”
Indigo winked and sauntered away.
“We sure do like having you around, Will,” she tossed back over her shoulder.
Will chuckled against Reese’s throat. Ben watched the vampire’s pulse jump and imagined the hard thump of his heart. Yet another surprise. He knew from his research that Reese was a few centuries old.
In most cases, the older vamps’ hearts no longer beat.
It was Nicolette who had explained it to him.
“Once we reach a certain age, mon cher, it is purely the magic that animates us. And magic requires no heartbeat, no air, no blood flow. Once the heart ceases beating, we are truly no longer the mortals we once were, but other creatures entirely. Still, sometimes the body remembers what it is to be human.”
And the heart was the seat of the soul. It’s why staking a vamp killed them (but only with wood… no other man-made weapon could untether a vampire’s soul). It was also why things occasionally jump started a vampire’s silent heart. It happened when something powerful stirred their soul.
It was uncommon, she told him, in older vampires.
“We don’t feel things the way we used to, cher. We are… other.”
But Will obviously made Reese feel something profound, judging by the flutter of the pulse in his neck.
Again, Ben felt that sharp sting in his chest.
He must have made a face, or a noise, because Will released his hold on Reese and turned back to the table. Reese didn’t look at all disturbed by the fact that Will had undone the top few buttons of his shirt, or left a visible red mark on the pale skin of his collarbone. He leaned back against the booth, arms stretched to either side, with a faint, satisfied smile on his lips.
Will settled next to him, close but no longer practically in his lap, and lifted his fresh beer to his swollen mouth. His gaze narrowed on Ben.
The look was so intense it was as if Will was peering into his skull and could see the thoughts and feelings squirming around inside. As much as he was coming to like the irreverent hunter, he wasn’t sure he liked the feeling. Ben took a long swallow of booze to wet his throat.
“I should probably get going.”
Will shook his head. His lips curved upward at the corners, and the next words out of his mouth proved that Ben’s instincts were right. Will was annoyingly observant.
“So, tell me about your demon.”
He said the words casually, but they still hit Ben like a roundhouse kick to the chest. He sucked in a breath, blood burning in his cheeks and throat.
“He’s— it’s not—”
But Reese’s clipped voice cut off his heated denial. All of the lazy contentment had faded from the vampire’s handsome face, replaced with lowered brows and sharp inspection. He leaned across the table, ebony irises glittering with fierce intent.
Ben looked into the eyes of the warrior whose human life had ended on a bloody battlefield in Spain two centuries ago.
“You’ve seen a Soul Reaver?” Reese’s question was almost a demand.
Will’s head whipped around, his attention now focused entirely on the vampire at his side. Ben’s was as well.
Ben remembered the creature reaching into Mr. All-American’s chest, yanking out that oily, shimmering mass of tangled tentacles. Had that slimy, rotted, octopus-like thing been the man’s soul?
He swallowed, Adam’s apple bobbing as words got stuck in his throat. He nodded, forcing them past his suddenly numb lips.
“He’s…” His fingers clenched around his phone hard enough to make the plastic creak. “It was real?”
His ears rang so loudly he almost didn’t hear Reese’s reply.
“I’ve only heard stories from my Sire, who heard stories from hers, but…” Reese grinned, like a child who had just been promised a meeting with his idol. “Tell me everything!”
Like it? If you want to read more of my writing, you can always pledge to my Patreon. All Patrons get free flash fiction stories every month.
I’m currently having a Patron drive. All new Patrons in the month of June get a free copy of A Single Heartbeat and are entered into a giveaway to win a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate!