Due to changes in how my publisher assigns dates, I won't have release dates until I finish the book. I'm currently working on:
Taking the Realm which is book 3 of Sha and Connor's trilogy (previously titled Shaking the Balance)
For two decades, Leo Ruggeri’s needs are simple: forget his past. Then he meets a man with eternity worth remembering in his glacier-blue eyes. A man whose existence challenges everything Leo believes.
For five centuries, all Kesan Glendubh needed was blood and sex. Then he meets a man worth loving for eternity. A man whose ex is a vampire hunting priest.
Kesan’s latest novel will be published in graphic format, so he requires the services of a graphic artist. When he and Leo meet, the notion of services takes on new meaning and passion overtakes both men. Kesan realizes he cannot protect the young man, from himself and what he is, so he offers a choice.
As both men struggle to come to terms with their feelings, disturbances in the supernatural realm signal a return to a time of danger and persecution for those who walk the night. Kesan and Leo discover they have a Watcher—Father Guillaume Arsenault, come to reclaim Leo’s soul for God and his body for himself while fulfilling his calling to rid the world of vampires.
Crossbows aren’t modern weapons, but they are effective tools for vampire hunters. Eternity, like love, may not be so eternal after all.
Eternity, like love, may not be so eternal after all.
Excerpt, first person, from Leo’s point of view:
And then, there he was sitting at the dark mahogany table and the air in the room vanished. His eyes—ice-blue eyes—widened slightly and the full lips, what I could see of them within his dark beard, quirked upward a tick. He stood, hand extended to shake, and I realized how tall he was. I’m not short, a solid six feet, but this guy was taller by several inches.
The sizzle of desire that shot through me when our hands touched was nearly enough to drag a groan all the way past my carefully built barriers, the ones against showing arousal in the hetero world. His touch was slightly cool, and he held my hand just a fraction longer than was business protocol, at least for Americans. Italians aren’t so skittish about touching uomo a uomo, man to man. And that thought sent another liter of blood rushing to my cock. He twitched an eyebrow upward for an instant and then said, “Kesan Glendubh,” and looked expectantly at me.
I panicked like a middle school kid suddenly yanked out of a daydream to find the whole class and Sister I-Eat-Students-And-Not-In-A-
The brow lifted higher. “And you are…?”
Ah, names! “Leo. Leo Ruggeri.” God, was I really that muddled by this Glendubh’s eyes? And beard. And mobile mouth. Stop the stupid shit, Ruggeri! I scolded myself often. I didn’t always listen, though.
“I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, Signor Ruggeri. Sono lieto di fare la vostra conoscenza.”
My own brow reached to snag the ceiling. Damn. His accent was flawless. But there was a hint of amusement in those eyes.
Let’s just see how good your Italian really is, buddy. I let a smile light everything except my eyes. “Lei parla molto bene l'italiano. O hai vissuto o che ha avuto un insegnante molto bravo.”
“O sto leggendo la vostra mente e di apprendimento in questo modo.”
What the hell did that mean? I’d told him he spoke Italian well, said he must have lived there or had a very good teacher. He comes back with “Or I could be reading your mind and learning it that way.” What the fuck?
He laughed, a deep full sound that made me want to see how it would be to be full of him, to fill him with me. “I had a very good teacher,” he said, “a native speaker who was with me for a number of years. Forgive my odd sense of humor.”
“Ruggeri has his own odd sense of humor, Mr. Glendubh,” the editor-in-chief put in. “Perhaps you could tell us a bit about your idea.” Allen’s round face split in a smile as he gestured us to sit, but Glendubh shook his head before my ass hit the chair.
“Mr. Ruggeri, here, beside me, please, so we’re looking at things from the same point of view.” He must have seen something in my expression that he thought was hesitation rather than me clamping my jaw against saying things better left unsaid about points of view. “Unless you’re uncomfortable sitting next to a gay man.”
Dying and going to Memphis? That’s not near enough of a description to fit the happy dance my cock was doing at that little bit of news. I was tempted to out myself right then and there, but while Allen wasn’t a nutjob, I’d heard him make a few remarks. I wasn’t stupid. Sometimes it boiled down to discretion and valor.
“Not at all, Mr. Glendubh, not at all.” I moved to the seat he indicated and enjoyed the hell out of the look on Allen’s face. He actually pushed his chair back an inch or so.
Glendubh noticed it, too, and that quirky brow reached into the stratosphere. “Perhaps I have misjudged the company or the people who work here.”
Allen was tongue-tied, so I stepped in. “I think you’ll find that most of us here don’t give a rat’s ass who sleeps with whom, and I guarantee you I’d not be here if the company itself didn’t practice equality.” Let him make of that what he would, and fuck Allen. Though he certainly wouldn’t have been first choice on the gay man’s buffet, a bit pudgy, soft around the edges.
Glendubh’s smile was another bit of air-evacuation. Even allowing for the breath training I'd had for amateur opera, there didn't seem to be enough oxygen in the room suddenly. God, he should smile all the time. Those lips... he’d taste like honey on bread toasted over a campfire.
“I’m glad to hear you say that, Mr. Ruggeri.”
“Leo. I’m not a formal person.”
He actually beamed at me, then ducked his head. “Neither am I, Leo.” A shiver coursed through me, hearing my name riding that voice—God, could he sing? Could he sing opera?—and hearing it pronounced properly. “You must think of me as Kesan.”
I beamed back. Oh, yes, I’ll think of you, Kesan. Every time I wrap my cock with my fist and pound my way to shooting my load, I’ll be thinking of you.
I could have sworn his breath caught for an instant. Another moment of panic. Had I actually said that aloud? A glance at Allen told me I hadn’t. He’d be already out the door if I had. There was a great deal of temptation to get him out the door that way. I could lock it behind him and fuck the bejesus out of this walking wet dream right on the conference table.
Even vampires grieve, and newly made vampire Leo Ruggeri has a lot to grieve over. His maker, Kesan Glendubh, should be providing help and guidance as he copes with his new life, but a vampire hunter’s crossbow has made that impossible. Kesan was more than Leo’s maker. He was Leo’s one-and-only, the man he would love for eternity. With him gone, his vampire family steps up to shepherd Leo until he knows enough not to alert the humans that those who walk the night are among them.
Jamie Tasso wants to do more than guide him through the pitfalls, though, and Leo finds solace in his bed. When Leo’s world is turned upside down again, what began as solace morphs into love.
Jamie and Leo are summoned to Kolozsvár, to the High Court, where an alliance between Vampyr and Varulv—werewolves—is being hammered out. Politics is never clean and simple when alliances and love affairs are shattered much more easily than they are forged.
Sometimes you have to go through Hell to get to Heaven.
Sometimes you have to go through Hell to get to Heaven.
For some reason, that started another round of anguish. When I’d managed to stuff it down somewhat, he tilted my face up to his and laid a soft kiss on my lips. His eyes, beautiful pale brown flecked with amber, held my own for a moment or two before he lowered his lips to mine again. They were soft, yielding, and parted to allow his tongue access to mine. The anguish and need for respite opened my lips to the gentle feathering across them, along their inner surfaces. He explored at leisure while my hands made their own explorations along his shoulder blades.
“Make love to me, Leo,” he whispered between his tongue’s excursions into the depths of my ear.
I shook my head and he began to pull away. “No, Peter, I won’t. You make love to me this time.”
I could feel the smile, even while he returned to my ear. Between the gasps pulled from me by his nibbles along the outer edge down to the lobe, I murmured, “Peter, I don’t want a—uhnh—relationship. If you think that’s what I’m saying... oh gods... stop now. I don’t want anyone but K-Kesan.”
He nuzzled in. “I know. I don’t want a relationship either. I have a few lovers. But I am fond of you, and you make me quite hard.”
“I feel that.” Grinding against his cock let me know just how hard. His cheek was smooth under my tongue, so different from Kesan’s beard. “We should stop. Your lovers—”
“We’re not exclusive.” His thumb and forefinger tweaked my nipple into a hard nubbin.
“You’re sure? I... gods, yes, Peter, like that... I don’t want to cause trouble.”
He mumbled something. It was hard to know exactly what since his tongue had laid a trail down my throat. He pinned my arm over my head as he nuzzled and licked my armpit. Armpits had never been something I’d considered particularly sensual before, but what he was doing had me rethinking that. The parts of me that could still think.
He pulled back and pounced on my nipples, biting and licking the blood droplets away. So sweet, Leo, your blood is so sweet! Is your cum sweet, too?
“Oh gods,” I shivered, “oh gods, find out, Peter! Eat my balls; feast on my cock.”
He groaned and began the trek down my abs. He stopped at my navel to lay an offering upon that altar as he licked and sucked and tugged at the trail of hair toward my lusting cock. By that time, I was arching up, groaning, pushing at his head, urging him lower.
I want to take my time, Leo. It’s too good to rush.
“Don’t take too long,” I moaned. “Payback is a bitch.”
Use telepathy, Leo. It feels even better through the link.
It couldn’t—I started to say, but the flood of sensation that overtook me as I opened my side of that link short-circuited everything in my brain, except my cock, my hands, and wherever he touched me.
Yes, yes, you see?
I could only grunt. I tried to contemplate how he could function enough to talk, but gave it up when all I could manage, even to myself, was He... oh, fuck... how... fuck!
My hips were lifting and falling, the thwack of flesh on wood a secondary theme to the moans and gasps we were both making. I had to have him. My cock would explode, and not with cum, if I didn’t get relief. And get it now.
He took a swift lick across the slit, slurping up the pre-cum, and then captured my dick. All of it. Most men stopped short of that, despite efforts to the contrary, but he took all of me, and as he worked it, I began to realize the advantages of not needing to breathe. He pinned my hips to the floor, pressing down hard with a hand on each hip blade, taking total control for himself. All I could do was moan. And feel.
The trembling started in my calves and shot upward, to meet the mirroring wave that fired in my shoulders. Somewhere behind my navel they crashed into each other and detonated through my ass and out my cock at the same time. I yelled as my balls joined in and shot cum, though I had no idea how I managed to still have any left, far down Peter’s throat.
Oh gods, too good, I’m dying! Kesan, Kesan, I love you!
Peter sucked down hard, milking it, milking me, and as he did, he said, And Kesan loves you, Leo. For all the time there is, he loves you.
I was lost hearing that. I don’t know what happened. I’d fainted before. I’d even blanked out from an overload of pleasure before. It wasn’t either of those things. I was submerged in something hot and tender, caressing every part of me. Even my insides were being caressed, held, cradled. Loved. With Kesan’s love.
I’d thought I knew what love was, and what it wasn’t. I thought I understood the difference between love and fondness-with-sex. I thought I knew what it meant to love someone more than life itself.
I was wrong. Pathetically, not even in the ballpark, try-again-sailor, totally wrong. The truth was an iced scalpel, slicing through all the bullshit. It ripped me stem to stern and laid bare the lies I’d told the world, the deeper lies I’d told myself. I knew nothing about love. Not a single goddamned motherfucking thing about love.
I wasn’t sure I’d spelled the word right even one time in all my thirty-three years trudging the planet, thinking I was alive and complete. I’d been a fool. A prancing preening peacock, spreading my tail and quivering it, hiding the barren nest that had never, would never, couldn’t ever attract a mate.
The sudden truth screeched a discord, holding it, sustenuto, shifting the top notes, emphasizing one thing and then another. My shallowness was at the fore, then the selfishness with the mind games rolling up next, all the things I’d done to take and clutch control to my chest and more importantly to hide from myself exactly what it was I was doing. The chord was there, held, drawn out, setting up resonances and harmonics that threatened to rip me apart, and possibly the universe as they did.
I saw it all, understood in an instant what love truly is, realized I’d never felt it. And railed against the unfairness that I’d finally seen, finally grasped the truth when it was too late, too damned fucking late, because the man who could have taught me love, the man who was worthy of being loved, was gone, lost to me forever, dead.
****cover artist, Rebecca Poole of Dreams2media,