Series: The Beacon Hill Sorcerer #4
Buy the Book: Amazon, Tantor
Genre: gay romance, lgbt fantasy, urban fantasy, urban fantasy romance
Guilt-ridden after the massacre of his family, Isaac Salvatore turned to binge drinking to escape the pain. Now twenty-four years old, Isaac is a recovering alcoholic woefully out of practice in the magical arts, leaving his fire affinity hanging on the edge of disaster. After a month of rehab, he returns to Beacon Hill and his family, determined to remain sober, learn to control his magic, and figure out a plan for his life that doesn't involve drinking.
Constantine Batiste is the oldest, most powerful vampire in the city. Born in ancient Gaul, the bastard son of a Celtic king, his long life has been shrouded in tragedy and horrors. Recent mistakes have left him wary and determined to guard his clan from all foes. When two of his clan members fall victim to an ancient evil, he summons the Necromancer of Boston for aid. Accompanying his older brother to the Tower is the handsome young fire mage once wounded by Constantine's arrogance, and their encounter reignites an attraction that burns within both Constantine and Isaac.
The answer to who is targeting the vampires of Boston is buried in the dark, early days of Constantine's transition to an immortal life. Isaac finds himself saddled with a painful insight into the evil cutting a swath through the supernatural population of Boston. While his brother, Angel, takes over the hunt to find and stop the threat to the city, Isaac struggles to find a balance between helping his brother and finding his own purpose and place in the world, free from his brother's shadow.
Falling in love wasn’t part of his plan, but mastering the flames that burn between him and Constantine soon becomes the most important thing in his life, even as an ancient evil seeks to destroy them.
Also in this series:
Blood soaked Batiste’s wrists, his hands, and the front of his collar and shoulder, the blood dark red, nearly black by the edges of the stains. Batiste stepped away, closer to Isaac, and he found himself looking up at the Master vamp. Batiste was a handful of inches taller than Isaac, and he tipped his head back. Lush pink lips, the corner stained faintly by blood, and dark crimson smeared on a chiseled chin and jaw drew his gaze. Brilliant blue orbs took up his whole world, and he fought not to fall under the sway of the Master vamp.
He wanted to, though, very badly.
“Are you…” Isaac wet his lips, blue eyes tracking the motion, and tried again. “Are you okay? I don’t know what’s going on, but you’re…covered in blood.” Isaac flushed, not knowing what to say or do. A human covered in so much blood would be less sanguine for certain. Batiste was calm and collected, as if nothing were amiss. It was Simeon’s blood, but still—Isaac would be freaking out.
“A new shirt would be welcome,” Batiste smiled faintly, a burst of humor in his gaze. His regard flicked past Isaac’s shoulder for a split second, then back, regaining eye contact. “One of my children is fetching me a fresh garment as we speak. And hello again, young Isaac.”
“Hi.” An inane reply, spoken in a breathy whisper.
Batiste was standing close, too close for his brain to be functioning at full capacity. He was even more attractive than Isaac remembered, and Isaac wasn’t used to hot men, either living or undead, being so close to him with so many clothes on. He and Greg weren’t entirely exclusive, and once Isaac clued in to Greg’s penchant for hustling to pay for drugs and alcohol, he gave up on notions of monogamy while with Greg. Drunk Isaac wasn’t the best at making good decisions, and now Sober Isaac was realizing how fucked up his usual responses were to attractive men. What was he supposed to do now? If they were in a club or bar, Isaac wouldn’t hesitate to offer a blowjob in the bathroom or a fuck in a back alley somewhere. Sober Isaac was turned on, slightly bothered by the blood, and feeling out of his depth.
Batiste was feeding the flames, and Sober Isaac was clueless about how to proceed.
A pang of longing shot through him, landing in the center of his chest, and it only resurrected the sense of oddness he experienced before Dr. M clued him in to his state of mind. Drunk Isaac would be asking for a fuck; Sober Isaac wanted to fuck but didn’t want to feel like shit afterwards. And he would. He always did.
“I did not expect to see you here,” Batiste began unbuttoning his shirt. Isaac blinked, mouth dry, as Batiste peeled back his shirt and handed it off to a vampire, one that came from seemingly nowhere. Isaac’s heart thumped, but he forced himself to stay calm. The sight of Batiste’s muscled torso made the tingling sensation return, and Isaac’s fingers itched to trace pale, smooth skin over taut, hard flesh.
The hex stood out in stark relief against Batiste’s pale skin. It appeared as new as the day Angel cast it, skin blackened in the thin lines of the rune. Isaac frowned, confused about how he felt seeing the evidence of Batiste’s past transgression and proof he could not, in any way, use his vampiric gifts to charm or sway him again. A part of him felt relief, and another part felt guilt. Guilt he was unfortunately familiar with, and it left a sour taste in his mouth.
“It is not your doing,” Batiste said abruptly, snapping Isaac out of his thoughts. “My wrongdoing earned me the brand. I will not have you carry guilt for something outside of your control.”
“My brother branded you.” Isaac kept his voice down, checking briefly to make sure the others weren’t listening. “My brother hexed you—left a mark on you. A rune with my name carved into it, set in your flesh. How are you not blaming me? Hell, blaming Angel?”
Batiste shrugged one shoulder, a casual motion that conveyed his lack of upset quite clearly. “I earned it. I trespassed upon you. No other. Do not assign yourself guilt over a wrongdoing you did not commit. It is my shame to bear, and mine alone.”
Isaac grumbled, then nodded. “Okay, okay. I get it. I just can’t understand why you aren’t more upset.”
“I was upset, do not think I was in any way agreeable toward the hex. But then I was left with my regrets once my ire faded, and I cannot escape punishment for a transgression I would insist be placed upon another if they erred so egregiously. Understood?”
Isaac nodded, mute, eyes wide, stunned by the fervent words. Batiste gazed back down at him, and if the undead man breathed as a human did, they would be sharing air. No mortal warmth met Isaac in the narrowing space between them; cold and quiet, no heat from another’s flesh. Stone cold, and just as silent. He shivered, a reaction to the cold alone.
The vampire who brought the clean shirt left with the sullied one, and another vampire appeared in the same place, moving so fast Isaac had to blink to realize it wasn’t the same vamp. They were incredibly fast, and Isaac gulped, throat clicking, nerves turning from excitement to a shallow fear. Batiste took a small step back, and Isaac dragged in fresh air, trying to calm himself. Batiste took the wet wipes offered by the other vampire, and discreetly cleaned his mouth and chin. There was still blood on his skin along his collarbone and down his pec. The other vampire, one Isaac was thinking was a servant or something, reached out and swiped the blood from his master’s torso, and Isaac frowned, biting his tongue to keep from voicing an objection.
He wanted to do that.
Seeing another’s hands on that carved expanse of muscle and smooth skin left him unsettled and wishing he knew what to do next.
Maybe coming to the Tower was a bad idea. He took a half step back, and Batiste caught the motion, gaze searching Isaac’s for a sharp second before he lifted a hand. “Enough, my child.” Batiste stopped the attentions of the nameless vampire, and Batiste wiped his wrists and double-checked his face and neck. His wrists were healed as if nothing happened, Isaac avidly examining the unblemished skin when Batiste handed over the used wipes to the other vampire, who backed away with a bow before blurring from the room.
Batiste was still shirtless, dressed only in trousers that clung to his thighs and ass, leather shoes, and a black leather belt with a gleaming metal buckle. Everything else was bare skin, and when Batiste turned, Isaac’s breath caught.
Scars. So many scars, bright red and deep pink against the white of his skin, Batiste was a walking, talking testament to physical trauma. Isaac had no idea what half the scars were from, but his imagination picked out what looked to be whip marks, slashes from swords or knives, and a multitude of claw marks and bites.
He choked back a cry of dismay, a hand lifting, hovering over Batiste’s back, not quite touching. He froze, deeply uncertain.
Isaac knew vampires did not scar after they were reborn as one of the undead. They could not be tattooed, and all injuries healed cleanly, without a trace of the wound. They carried with them old scars and tattoos from their mortal years, and sometimes in the Turning, they were healed of grievous injuries that occurred near or just before the time of the rebirth. Many humans were turned into a vampire to survive terminal illnesses and fatal injuries, and oftentimes the fatal wounds would disappear when they rose as one of the undead.
Batiste had been injured, many times, as a mortal man. Isaac struggled to understand how Batiste even survived to be Turned. Some scars were from fire, decorating one shoulder. The other shoulder bore a deep reddish-pink scar that cut through the top of his shoulder, and likely resulted in crushed bones and pulverized muscles. Batiste looked back at him and saw Isaac’s hand, which he promptly dropped back to his side.
“What? How?” Isaac breathed out, and flinched, not meaning to say a damn thing.
A small smile curved up one side of Batiste’s lush lips, and he turned back to Isaac, arms lifted out and away from his sides a foot or so, and Isaac looked past the sexy six-pack abs to the rest of the undead man. There were scars on his chest and abdomen, though not as many on his upper arms. These were fainter, as if older, and there were more singular, long slashes from what might have been swords rather than the horrors visited upon the flesh of his back. That was what he saw under the fabric of the ruined shirt earlier—the scars. So many of them.
“I was a warrior in my mortal life,” Batiste answered the half-baked question he’d blurted out. “War and violence were as common in my youth as they are today. Only the weapons changed as the years went on.”
“I can’t…there’s so many scars.” Isaac felt like an idiot, stating the obvious.
Batiste said nothing. What was there to say, really? The obvious was there in front of his eyes, and it was reshaping something in Isaac’s mind. Batiste just let him look his fill, and Isaac mentally tallied the scars until he could not stand to count any more.
Cultured and suave and elegant, Constantine Batiste was the consummate gentleman, a noble of the undead, a player in social circles that were so beyond Isaac he didn’t even want to think about them. Yet beneath the suits, the expensive fabrics, and the mannerisms fit for a royal court, Batiste was something, someone entirely different.
A warrior, as he said. The truth was there in the refined muscles, the long-healed but tortured flesh, and the way he moved. A warrior made into a vampire, an apex predator, and while he dressed up his nature in fine suits, refined speech, and cultured manners, there was no longer any hiding what and who he really was—a dangerous, deadly being.
“Do I frighten you now, young Isaac?” Batiste asked softly, his arms lowered now to his sides, head tilted slightly, blond hair shifting across his brow.
He thought about it. He should be terrified, given proof that the vampire in front of him had more than his supernatural state to draw upon to wreak havoc. Training and a brutal life of war added to the predatory gifts of the undead, and Batiste was enough to terrify even the most hardened of battlemages and warriors. Yet he wasn’t afraid. He was more afraid of the random vampires blurring in and out of the room, highlighting that which made them so dangerous to mortals, their speed nearly impossible to protect against.
“I don’t know.” Honesty was all he had.
“Better than a yes,” Batiste replied, and Isaac nodded, thinking the same. “Perhaps you’ll tell me when you decide?”
Isaac nodded once, lifting his eyes to Batiste’s, which were calm and reserved, emotions hidden. “Sure, I can do that.”
Batiste smiled, and it knocked the air from his lungs. It was a dangerous thing, that smile, and it disappeared as swiftly as it came, leaving him stunned.
Batiste left him stunned in so many ways.
Angel called Batiste over, breaking the quiet bubble around them. Batiste went, but slowly, as if he too needed reminding of where they were and what was happening. Isaac was left there alone, despite being surrounded by his family. Adrift in a storm of emotions, but he knew one thing with terrible certainty.
He wanted Constantine Batiste, and that frightened him more than the undead man himself.
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