Beside the Darker Shore
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by Patricia J. Esposito
Category: Dark Fantasy/Romance
Description: To forsake all that is good ? to dive into desire What might the ethical Governor David Gedden give up for one man's exquisite beauty? It's terrifying to consider when the man is a destructive blood prostitute and David is responsible for the state's peaceful vampire community. Blood sales in Boston are up, blood taxes support a thriving new nightlife, neighborhoods have been refurbished, and deaths by vampires have plummeted. David is assured reelection. However, the blood addict Stephen Salando has returned from exile with one unalterable plan: to turn the good governor into a vampire. Stephen is an immortal dhampir, whose beauty obliterates reason, who rouses in David a fierce desire he's ignored his whole life. For David to have Stephen, he must ally with the community's archrival. To have him, he must become a potential killer himself. Excerpt: As Stephen stood to put in his music, he downed his glass of wine, the orange light catching the liquid's flow, streaking Stephen's neck. There was no doubt he was beautiful, his slender silk neck belying the strength of tendons, of arteries that pumped eternally renewing blood. Did he think David could take that blood, could bite into this man whom he could hardly touch without ravishing as a human? "If the intimacy of Stephen frightens you," Arturo said, "think of the eternity I'm offering. You will have time for my villa in Potes, and I will take you there. Time for Italy and India, for Scottish moors and Arabian deserts, for Plato and Lawrence, Prokofiev and Paganini. Arturo's voice was lulling, his smile charming, and David couldn't help a small smile in return. "At night," he continued, "we will skim our hands over Rodin's Orpheus and Donatello's David, stand beside de Chirico's melancholic street and Hopper's slanted shadows, voyeurs to each century and secrets in ourselves." A solitary, sad guitar strummed through the trailer, mixing with the breeze through the slatted window, and Stephen slid on the bench, next to David, while Arturo leaned back into shadows. "This music is lonely," he said, "rain and bare branches and twilight sky. Like Stephen." David's arm was a twitch away from Stephen's. Their legs brushed beneath the table. A drum began slowly beating alongside the guitar, propelling the night, yet holding them still. David sipped his wine, knowing it would taste like Stephen, and realized that what he wanted was entirely selfish. He wanted immunity, to taste all this, to drink only for himself. He looked at Stephen, his dark lashes, sleek cheekbones. He wanted those soft lips parting, the taste of his breath, burgundy-rich, so near his mouth. He tasted Stephen before their tongues met. His fingers burned on the table edge, his heart louder than the music. The breeze pushed him on. Lips on lips.
eBook Publisher: Eternal Press/Damnation Books LLC/Eternal Press, 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: August 2011
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [422 KB]
Reading time: 247-346 min.
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As soon as Arturo stepped into the restroom, the three men at the urinals zipped and scattered. Stephen leaned heavily on the open door, holding it for their quick exit, while Arturo circled the room unmoved. Hands pocketed deep in his coat, the vampire stopped before the mirror and unashamedly assessed himself.
Stephen rolled his eyes, but then caught Arturo's gaze in the mirror, a deep brown warmth he'd come to depend on. In a long coat, with his black waves smoothed back, the vampire carried forth a disdainful air of nobility.
However, Stephen knew him well enough now, had seen him windblown, sharp, and honest. The air he held wasn't disdain, it was pride, and it was the fierce pride of the peasant.
"C'mon, Arturo, winter's gonna be hard enough on Boston without your frigid temper. You're turning my skin blue. You need blood."
Arturo still hadn't taken blood from him. They'd come from his villa in Potes, Spain, a hamlet sunk in the deep green valleys of the Picos de Europa. They'd spent one night in Madrid and all the daylight hours in Logan Airport's fume-filled underground garage.
He cast a sharp eye on Arturo, but the dark eyes in the mirror looked back with a wariness Stephen had rarely seen. This was Boston, not Madrid.
Was Arturo changing his mind?
"We're deep into October's bloom," Arturo said finally, "before harsh death. Our pilot promised seventy-degree days. Surely, the night is pregnant, and a black swell blossoms..."
"Jesus, I need your bite not your poetry."
Arturo swept before Stephen, shoving him against the stall. The door swung, banging as metal hit metal. Clamping the vampire's cool neck, Stephen pulled him closer. The door against his back glazed over with a skin of ice.
"C'mon then. You want Alec Marshall. I can give him to you. Then I get David."
"I want to taste him, bello." Pushing Stephen into the stall, Arturo snapped his head against the tiled wall. He brushed the fringe of hair from Stephen's forehead. "You are starlit. Night envies this black sky you flaunt so carelessly."
"So take it. Then we can get him," Stephen said.