Book Blitz & Excerpt: The Diplomat’s Bride + Giveaway

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The Diplomat’s Bride by Samantha Cayto

Book 2 in the Treaty Brides series

Word Count: 53,223
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 188

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
EROTIC ROMANCE
FANTASY
GAY
GLBTQI
ROYALS

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Book Description


Being a bride is a state of mind, not of body.

Kexen of the Outer Vale has made a unique splash in the Moorcondian palace and has captured the attention of Benedict, Lord Tentrees, a diplomat trying to make his mark. When a winter-long mission arises to negotiate a trading treaty with a foreign queen, Ben needs a wife by his side. Never having been attracted to women, he sets his sights on marrying the enticing Kexen. He means for him to be both a helpmate navigating court society and a shield against the flirtatious queen.

Because Kexen is someone who—by his own admission—is neither male nor female, he is intrigued by the idea of becoming Lady Tentrees and presenting entirely as a woman. Ben sweetens the offer with a lucrative trade deal between their families. Kexen will not ignore his duty while also being drawn to the virile diplomat who desires him. He cannot help but accept the proposal.

Their journey through both their diplomatic mission and marriage proves to be a rocky one. Kexen is not as experienced as his husband first believes, Ben is more driven by his career than Kexen appreciates and neither of them anticipates the intrigue waiting for them at their destination. The strength of their growing bond will be tested as they fight for their survival.


Excerpt

Benedict, Lord Tentrees of Northcliff, stood at the balcony’s rail and peered down at the colorful spectacle of the servants’ ball. Technically, he had no business being there. The ball season for the nobility had already ended earlier in the evening. These final hours were intended to benefit those who served the palace denizens so faithfully throughout the year. This was a grand gesture of thanks for their hard work and loyalty. Woe be it to anyone who didn’t give a servant these few hours to enjoy themselves with food, drink and merriment. The royal family had long made it clear that this was by decree. There would be some aching heads and sleepy eyes come the harsh light of the morning, but for now, the people twirling around the dance floor and taking liberties with each other in corners had no care in the world—or so it seemed to him. Not that his gaze landed on anyone for long, because he was there to find one person in particular.

It wasn’t difficult for him to spot his quarry. Even among the bright garments of the attendants, Kexen of the Outer Vale stood out. He was clothed in the colors of fall—deep red, bright orange and sparkling yellow. His daringly short doublet sported gathered sleeves that cascaded in folds down his slender arms while provocatively highlighting what lay behind the crotch of his almost obscenely snug trousers. His knee-high brown leather boots gave his legs an even longer look, while his elaborately braided hair swung with his every graceful turn. Kexen was not a tall man, but that was all to the good. The boy would fit perfectly with Ben’s own height. The vision of gathering him in his arms was captivating. His cock hardened at the thought of it, enjoying the spark of pleasure. With his demanding profession, there wasn’t much opportunity to slake his needs. Hopefully, that situation was about to change.

There was no reason to tarry any longer, so, stepping away from his vantage point, he headed toward the staircase that would send him into the midst of the revelers. He had intended to be as inconspicuous as possible, understanding that this was not his domain, that he was an interloper who might cause some alarm among the servants. His good intentions notwithstanding, the severity of his all-black clothing served to make him stand out among the festive outfits of those around him. There was a certain amount of startlement by those who saw and recognized his station, if not his identity, leading to smiles morphing into more respectful expressions. Some nodding of heads occurred, as well, in deference to his rank. Ben tried to convey that he was no threat to them, that he had no demands, not even any expectations—not from these people, in any event. Kexen was a different story altogether. If all went to plan, Ben would seduce the boy while judging up close whether they would make a good match.

Ben caught sight of Kexen on the dance floor again. He was being whirled around in the beefy arms of a footman. Ben settled against the wall to stay unobtrusive as he waited with less patience than he would have expected from himself for the musicians to end their song. The moment the last of the notes were played, he launched into the crowd. Now he appreciated being shown respect as the partying servants cleared a way for him, making his journey that much quicker. He caught up with Kexen and his partner just as they were stepping out onto one of the balconies. The night was brisk but, in contrast to the heat of the ballroom, very refreshing—not that the cold air served to dampen his ardor. Seeing Kexen up close only increased his desire for the boy.

Exquisite.

Kexen’s face was lit with joviality as he gazed up at the footman, laughing at something the man had said. There was a coy look to the boy’s expression, as well. Ben was surprised at the spurt of jealousy he felt at the sight. He reminded himself that Kexen was not his and might never be so unless he proved to be worthy. Charging forth as if he were an enraged lover was hardly going to serve that purpose. Being a diplomat, he knew how to bank his emotions and measure his words and actions. By the time he reached the couple, he hoped he appeared friendly and casual.

Kexen was the first to spot him. His jubilance dimmed somewhat, although he looked more curious than apprehensive. He nodded his head. “My lord, is there something you wish?”

You. In my bed. Ben didn’t voice this desire out loud, of course. Instead, he said, “I would love a dance, if you would honor me.” Ben had the pleasure of seeing surprise flash across the boy’s face. He was delighted that the obviously confident young man could still be caught off guard.

Kexen reached to twist one finger around the chain of a small ruby pendant and dropped his gaze. “I am honored, my lord. But your pardon, this is the servants’ ball. It is not fit for a nobleman.” Just as Ben was appreciating the subtlety of the rebuke, Kexen looked up at him from under his lashes.

Cheeky boy, you’re interested. Ben stepped closer. “And a fine event it is. Please forgive the intrusion, but I have been anticipating the opportunity to meet you, Kexen of the Outer Vale. This seemed the best occasion to do so.”

Now Kexen showed open welcome, his lips curling in a beckoning smile. “Oh. You flatter me, my lord.”

The footman proved that his brains weren’t as big as his muscles. When the man opened his mouth as if to object, Ben stepped deftly between him and Kexen and stared the footman down. “If you don’t mind?”

They were matched in height, and while Ben wasn’t quite as broad, he could hold his own in a brawl as well as at the negotiation table—not that either skill was required in this event. He didn’t hesitate to convey his social position in his gaze to encourage the footman to find someone else to dally with. The man was confident but not entirely stupid, apparently. With a curt nod, he strode away.

Pleased with the outcome, Ben turned to Kexen and held out his hand. “They are playing a waltz…my favorite.”

Kexen managed to convey shyness, something his reputation belied. Ben didn’t mind the pretext. The boy’s ability to navigate the complex waters of a court was one of the things that Ben coveted him for. He hadn’t been worried about a refusal, but when Kexen put his hand in his own, the jolt of excitement Ben felt was a surprise. He prided himself on being cool and measured in his actions. Something about the feel of this boy, however, made him want to drag him off into a corner and do a different kind of dance—one that involved his cock sliding past those slightly tinted and lovely lips. The way Kexen closed the distance between them, wrapping his arm around Ben’s neck, told him that the boy had similar ideas. Such a temptation, but Ben schooled himself to be patient, because this night was not a one-time seduction. It was hopefully the beginning of a short courtship.

Ben took his dance partner by the waist and pulled him in close, letting Kexen feel the measure of his arousal. “Let us stay out here. I wouldn’t want my presence to impede the others’ enjoyment. I will endeavor to keep you warm.” So saying, he began to slowly lead the boy in circles.

Kexen tilted his head to look him in the eye. “You are succeeding admirably, my lord.”

“I’m gratified to hear it. I’m Benedict, by the way.”

“I know who you are, Lord Tentrees. I must confess to being surprised that you know who I am.”

Ben whirled them into the far recesses of the balcony, taking them away from everyone else. “You shouldn’t be. Who at the palace hasn’t heard of the valiant groomer of the Duchess of Vostguard? You helped to save Prince Soren from an ambush at grave risk to your own safety.”

Kexen dropped his gaze and shrugged. “Oh, that. It was all the Duchess’ doing. I merely went along to serve him, as is my duty.”

Ben knew false modesty when he heard it, and this was decidedly not that. Kexen truly believed his actions weren’t worthy of special mention. Ben’s estimation of him increased. There was more to this boy than beauty and even bravery. Most people in his position would brag to anyone and everyone about such exploits, not caring if their words betrayed the secrets of those whom they served. Kexen’s humbleness and discretion were excellent traits in diplomatic circles. There was no doubt in Ben’s mind that he had made the right choice, even if it were really the only one afforded him.

“You don’t do yourself justice. I’ve attended a few meetings in the presence of the king. I assure you he feels quite differently.”

Kexen blushed despite the cold air swirling around them. “The royal family is very kind, my lord.”

“My friends call me Ben.”

“I am surely not that upon such a short acquaintance.”

“I should like you to be.” He let his passion show in his eyes. “Should we continue our dance somewhere more private inside?” He actually held his breath waiting for the reply. In theory, he could have his way whether Kexen wanted him or not. King Auden didn’t tolerate the abuse of servants, but pressure could be brought to bear quietly against even the most secure servants with little retribution, if one was careful about it. But that wasn’t how he intended this venture to go. An eager Kexen would be a far better prize than a reluctant and begrudging one.

Kexen rested his cheek on Ben’s shoulder. “I would like that very much.”

Ben wasted no time, ending their dance before tugging Kexen by the hand back into the ballroom. He skirted the crowd to leave through the nearest exit and led the boy to the first quiet alcove he could find. The palace had so many discreet places for assignations that he was inclined to believe it was by deliberate design. Part of him disliked being so public. He would have preferred to take Kexen back to his own apartment, but, despite his recent promotion in the diplomatic corps, he still didn’t have a room in the palace. Taking the time to dress for outside and head to his place in the city didn’t appeal to him. Plus, he didn’t want to burden Kexen with two trips—there and back—on such a cold and late night.

The moment they were out of the sight of prying eyes, he pulled the boy into a kiss. He’d intended to take it slowly, to do nothing that might alarm even an experienced person such as Kexen. One touch of their lips, however, had him devouring the boy’s mouth instead. His much-valued control snapped with a speed that alarmed him. Or, rather, it would have, if feasting on Kexen were not as delectable as it was. Within seconds, he was sitting on a tufted settee with Kexen straddling his lap. Their respective erections mashed against each other as much as their clothing allowed. Ben wanted nothing more than to strip those barriers away. He had to wrestle with himself to gain control over his passion.

Breaking the kiss, he peppered Kexen’s jaw with quick pecks. “We must slow down, my dear, or I won’t last much longer.”

Kexen giggled in a sweet voice. “Who says I want you to…Ben?”

Hearing his name spoken in a voice thick with need nearly sent him over the edge. He closed his eyes and nuzzled the side of the boy’s neck, breathing in the sharp scent of bergamot mixed with the more musky smell of his arousal. As Ben worried that his mind was becoming cloudy, Kexen slipped from his grasp and was kneeling between his legs before Ben knew what was happening.

“Let me make you happy.” That was all the boy said before undoing the laces of Ben’s trousers, freeing his cock.

What rational thought that was left in his mind fled in the next instance when Kexen swallowed him whole right down nearly to the root. It was an impressive feat based on his prior experience. No one had ever taken the entirety of his rather large dick, and few had been able to manage as much as Kexen was now. The intensity of being mostly encased in such tight, wet heat nearly undid him. Then Kexen worked his throat muscles to massage the top half of Ben’s shaft. That was all it took for him to double over from his orgasm, pressing his lips tight to keep from shouting his pleasure.

Kexen kept lavishing attention on Ben’s dick until it popped out of his mouth. The boy beamed up at him as Ben caught his breath. “Do you feel better now, my lord?”

By way of an answer, Ben hauled him back up to his lap with a swiftness that made Kexen gasp. “Not nearly enough. I want more.” He kissed the boy again, tasting his own bitterness. Far from being disgusted, he loved it, because it was a mingling of them both. He wanted to reciprocate the giving of such pleasure. But when he reached between them to cup Kexen’s erection, he found that the boy had already come from the cocksucking alone. Knowing that he’d had such a potent effect on him puffed up his chest. He wondered if he could do it again and found himself eager to try. There was plenty of time left in the night, and based on the way Kexen melted into his arms, he seemed just as eager for more.

This was proof that he’d been right all along. Kexen of the Outer Vale was the perfect bride for him.

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About the Author

Samantha Cayto

Samantha Cayto is a Boston-area native who practices as a business lawyer by day while writing erotic romance at night—the steamier the better. She likes to push the envelope when it comes to writing about passion and is delighted other women agree that guy-on-guy sex is the hottest ever.

She lives a typical suburban life with her husband, three kids and four dogs. Her children don’t understand why they can’t read what she writes, but her husband is always willing to lend her a hand—and anything else—when she needs to choreograph a scene.


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Spotlight & Excerpt: New Life in Autumn + Giveaway

BANNER2 - New Life in Autumn

A New Life in Autumn - Michael G. Williams
Michael G. Williams has a new gay sci-fi mystery out, Books of Autumn book 2: A New Life in Autumn. And there’s a giveaway!

THE HARDEST PART OF DYING IS DECIDING HOW TO PASS THE TIME

Valerius Bakhoum died and kept no living. Now he can walk the streets of his city with a new face and a new name and finally feel a little bit respected. Too bad he’s still flat broke and behind on the rent. Unsure what to do with himself—and perhaps even of who he is—Valerius resumes his career as a detective by taking up the oldest case in his files: where do the children go?

Throughout his own youth on the streets of Autumn, last of the Great Flying Cities, Valerius knew his fellow runaways disappear from back alleys and other hiding places more than people realize. Street kids even have a myth to explain it: the Gotchas, who steal them away in the night. With nothing but time on his hands, Valerius dives in head-first to settle the question once and for all and runs smack into a more pressing mystery:

Who killed one of Valerius’ former lovers?

And do they know he’s still alive?

Return to the mean streets of Autumn by Valerius Bakhoum’s side as he shines a light into shadowy corners and finds secrets both sacred and profane with shockingly personal connections to who he was—and who he might become.

Warnings: This book does involve mild violence, capture and impending torture by antagonists, and discussion of the murder of children.

About the Series:

What would you do if you found yourself free at last–and all alone–in the sin-drenched paradise you were told you’d never reach?

Books of Autumn is a series telling the story of Valerius Bakhoum, a down and out private eye in Autumn, last of the great flying Cities, at various points in his life.

In A Fall in Autumn (2020 Manly Wade Wellman Award), we meet Valerius as he winds down his career and his too-short life.

In New Life in Autumn, Valerius navigates a surprising second chance and questions of who he is–and who he might become.

Walk the mean streets of Autumn by Valerius’ side in this award-winning study of the kindness and compassion found in the places where humanity’s lowest ambitions lurk!

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Giveaway

Michael is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Excerpt

New Life in Autumn meme
Across three quarters of the City of Autumn, street kids are an unthinkable paradox. For the most part, the Pluses and the PlusPlus and all the other manifold forms of intentional humankinds only ever run into the sorts of kids someone wanted badly enough to design. There are already a billion people in the world between the Empire, the Eastern Expanse, and the less-organized places nobody’s fought over quite yet. Having kids willy-nilly wouldn’t add up, not with so many people already in line for the breakfast bar. That’s one of the many objections the Spiralists put forward to continued cultivation of Artisanal Humans like me—well, like I was.

That’s going to take some getting used to.

Anyway, widespread cultural insistence on bespoke offspring leaves a lot of kids out in the cold, literally. The ones I described before, orphaned by chance or abandoned for turning out imperfect or who got tired of their old life and decided to chase a new one are, in the remaining fourth-to-fifth of the City, as common as cobblestones and just as underfoot. There are plenty of them, and the supply continually refreshes, and I went to distinctly other streets than theirs. It isn’t that I wanted to avoid them, but talking would have taken money or some sort of barter and I was too short by half on either. I suspected it would have generated too much information rather than too little. A street kid asked to tell a story for a steam bun or a little reliably spendable scrip will gin up all the story you want and then some. I didn’t need urban legends. I needed facts, and that meant a much more gruesome start than some urchin milking my wallet with tall tales of what goes bump in the night.

I mentioned to Clodia one time that I had a friend who worked the Cisterns. The City of Autumn is like any town: its people have to piss like anybody else and its gutters often swell with rain. Autumn routinely flies into weather systems to gather up fresh water, and there’s a vast infrastructure to purify it for use by humankinds. I could spend ten pages telling you about the ponds in Down Preserves where rainwater burbles and bubbles under pressure, mixing in fresh air. The whole City sleeps atop a bed stuffed with pumps and gravity lines, charcoal and scrub algae, grates and artificial reefs and purpose-built shrimp—but I won’t.

Instead, I’ll simply say this: by the time water gets to us, the only thing left is the scent of the air where it first fell as rain. I don’t understand how the process works. I don’t care, either. The important thing, the thing none of us think about too much in case it, too, is another pretty lie in the quilt of them we make over our lives, is it happens. Sip from Lotta’s to remember the dead, cup your hands in the fountains of Domino, turn on a tap in the average Autumn kitchen, and you’ll enjoy the aroma of a field somewhere in Afrique, or a mutant blossom somewhere on a nameless plain in the vast Recovery Zone between Big River and the Salt Flat.

But on the other end of the system? Once all that delicious water has run its course through bodies and beer kegs and ice machines and steam plants?

That’s called Cistern Intake. I knew a gal who worked that part of the system. You could smell it on her from ten meters away. I always felt sorry for her, because it was so baked into her skin, ground down into her pores, she didn’t even smell it anymore herself.

On the plus side, she always had plenty of room in a bar. Nobody crowded her for long.

Frankie was a Mannie. Generally speaking, no variety of Plus—nice, “normal” people with designer genes—would even be considered for her job. Even applying for it might result in getting a replication error assessment. Odds are good you’ve already heard the story from a few years ago about the PlusPlus whose big ideas on “lived egalitarianism” got her carted off for genotoxicity screening. What most folks don’t know, however, is it was a stunt on both sides. Sure, she only wanted to make a point by suing the City for the right to join a scrubber team, not actually take the job if they offered it. But the City went out of its way to make the counterpoint in response, escorting her kicking and screaming away from the workhouse where they keep the little gliders they use to clean the Fore Barrier’s external face.

I assume she hoped to drum up publicity for her so-called perverse beliefs. I think she expected the City would do something to make an example of her, sure, but something more symbolic. You know, a big fine she could never pay, or maybe a few nights in the Palace of Imperial Justice. Something Imperial media could print without making anybody lose their lunch.

Instead, they dragged her —did I mention the kicking and screaming?—straight to the Hive. No trial. No judge. No pretenses. The Hive is right there at the front of the City, and the tiny portion of it sticking out above street level is visible if you climb high enough in Down Preserves and look to the Fore. The joke goes, they put the City’s worst criminals out there so we’ll hear them screaming if we crash into anything. This lady’s worst crime, though, was trying to prove we’re not all equal, not in the lives we’re allowed to lead or the risks we’re expected to take in the course of them. It sounds like heroism to you or me, but to the powers that be, the Sinceres, the Spiralists, and all the other people who don’t care if the Empire is a heap of shit as long as they’re near enough the top to catch a breeze, she’d committed the worst kind of social treason: she’d violated the spoken and unspoken rules propping up the class system on which they relied.


Author Bio

New Life in Autumn - Michael G. Williams
Michael G. Williams writes queer-themed science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror celebrating monsters, macabre humor, and subverted expectations. He’s the author of three series for Falstaff Books: the award-winning vampire/urban fantasy series The Withrow Chronicles; the thrilling urban fantasy series SERVANT/SOVEREIGN featuring real estate, time travel, and San Francisco’s greatest historical figures; the science fiction noir A Fall in Autumn, winner of the 2020 Manly Wade Wellman Award; and a bunch of short stories. He strives to present the humor and humanity at the heart of horror and mystery with stories of outcasts and loners finding their people.

Michael will be the Guest of Honor at Ret-Con in 2023, co-hosts Arcane Carolinas, studies Appalachian history and folklore at Appalachian State University, and is a brother in St. Anthony Hall. He lives in Durham, NC, with his husband, a variety of animals, and more and better friends than he probably deserves.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Witch Wolf, by Alexa Piper

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Witch Wolf

by Alexa Piper

Paranormal Romance, Gay,  Dark Fantasy

Date Published: June 10, 2022

Publisher: Changeling Press

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Will is a witch wolf, a werewolf who can do magic, but his life so far has been anything but magical. He was sold by his own pack and for four years, Will suffered as a slave to his captors — who used him any way they wanted. Now, after a leap of courage has brought him to Colin’s doorstep, Will’s past should be just that, his past.            

Colin can see the new apprentice he’s supposed to teach magic has been hurt. Colin wants to comfort the young werewolf who takes to magic much more easily than he takes to human contact. Their attraction seems mutual, but how can Colin be certain Will even knows what he wants?

As slow affection grows between Colin and Will, Will’s magic does as well, and he allows himself a sliver of happiness. Except the dark past Will thought he escaped from is not quite done with him, and now, it’s not just Will’s life on the line, but also Colin’s, the witch Will’s heart is beating for.

WARNING: Witch Wolf contains references to past sexual assault (with none of it happening on the page), which may be triggering for some readers.

EXCERPT

 

All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2022 Alexa Piper

Will

Once upon a time, Will had sent wishes to the full moon with his howls, but what had come true for him were the slick slaps of skin against skin, stinking breath against his face, the taste of his own blood and other, unspeakable things. Will, instead of meeting a prince under the full moon, had been sold to beasts.

Will carefully turned away from the large form next to him in the bed. Everything seemed so loud in the darkness, the other man’s deep breathing, Will’s own, panicked heartbeat which had not slowed while he had waited for the small hours of the morning, refusing sleep. Will moved, inch by inch, away from the other man. Will refused to think what the other man—Ed—would do if he found Will sneaking out. What Ed had done was already more than Will wanted to think about.

Will had considered packing a small bag, but that would have been too dangerous. All he had dared was leave clothes under the bed, in such a way it looked incidental, forgotten laundry.

The floor was cold against Will’s naked feet. Carefully, he stood. He could say he’d just wanted to go to the bathroom if Ed woke now, but Ed was still sleeping, and so Will got his clothes, slowly pulling them up and onto his arms. He could not make too much noise. He had to get this right.

Will didn’t dare put the clothes on in the bedroom — loup-garouhearing was  sensitive. He walked through the dark house and to the kitchen, grabbing his shoes on the way. There were shards of a glass on the floor. Ed had thrown it in fury when Will had been too slow in getting Ed his beer. Will walked around the broken thing and quickly cleaned himself with a wipe. He gave one last look to the dirty dishes in the sink, then pulled on his clothes, more concerned with doing it as quietly as he could than about doing it neatly.

Before he turned the knob, he listened to the house, but it was quiet. Ed was still sleeping, and so was his pack of three, all of them loup-garous, all of them vicious. They might still hear the door, but if Will was ever going to run, then this was it.

He opened the door and crossed the threshold. Now, if they found him, they would know without a doubt that he had tried to run, and they would punish him.

Will closed the door as carefully as he could, but the mechanism made a small sound. Behind the house, the alley was dirty. Trash bags rustled in the wind, soda cans rusted and collected dirt. Will had to watch where he stepped so he didn’t make any more noise. His heart was thundering in his chest.

Out on the street, Will quickly broke into a run. He knew he had to put as much distance between himself and them, because they could shift and just hunt him down, and he couldn’t without the moon being full.

Winchester Boulevard, on foot, was quite a walk. It took Will an hour, and he ran most of the time, so when he finally got there, he was sweaty from running and trembling with the cold whenever he slowed down to catch his breath. The house he wanted had a large planter by the front door with a red and white plastic windmill in it. Ella had said the windmill would be there. It was such a silly thing, and there wasn’t even any wind to move its spokes, but Will nearly broke out in sobs with relief.

Will was scared to knock, but at this point, it was this or wait for Ed and his pack to hunt him down. And Will knew they wouldn’t just kill him. If it had been that—if he’d known that would have been the worst he’d have to fear—he might have given up at any point over the past four years, might have just accepted death. Everything else the loup-garous would enjoy doing to him—that was what Will feared.

He was huffing when he stood in front of the door, but he didn’t
hesitate to knock.

Will looked over his shoulder as he waited to be let in. This neighborhood was one of the nicer ones for New Elvenswood. The whole city tended to be largely clean and touristy, even if Will had never been allowed to see all that much of the place. The dilapidated house Ed and his pack had rented was the exception more than the rule as far as Will could tell.

Across the street, there was a light on in an upstairs room. Will imagined whoever was up was awake at this hour because of their own choosing. He imagined they were working late or maybe just reading. Just living their life. Will hadn’t lived in such a long time. All he’d been doing since he’d met Ed had been surviving.

The door opened, and Will flinched.

“Yes?” the vampire asked.

Will had known it would be a vampire, but still. This one, his sheer presence absolutely spoke to Will’s wolf nature, and the vampire’s demeanor made Will want to show his belly and submit. He was stunning to behold too, but in a sharp way: almost white-blond hair, icy eyes that had a hard darkness to them, a thin mouth set in a pale face.

With a last shallow breath, Will forced the words he’d prepared in his head out of his mouth. “Ella said you can help people in trouble. I… there’s a pack of loup-garous, and I need to get away from them. I can’t pay you, but I’ll do what you want. I’ll work for you.”

Will’s voice nearly gave out on the last part, because he started shaking violently. It occurred to Will that the vampire looked like a Viking, and his cold eyes were growing only more glacial in their regard. Will doubted the man had laughed for more than a minute in the last hundred years. And he wore nice clothes, really nice clothes. Will knew the vampire was a lawyer, but he felt silly now for asking for help. He expected the vampire to tell him to go and fuck off, just with nicer words.

“Come inside,” the vampire said instead and opened the door wider.

 

 

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