QSFer M.D. Grimm has a new MM paranormal romance out: Eye of the Beholder.
Is it better to risk it all… or never know what could have been?
After surviving an abusive childhood, Vulcan remade himself upon arriving in Los Angeles, California. He became a blacksmith for the paranormal community and strives to earn the respect of the vampire covens and werewolf packs that call LA home. He also prevents the pain of loss by keeping everyone at arm’s length.
But he never planned on meeting a former Roman soldier by the name of Marcus Cassius Vespillo. Something sparks between them and turns into a friendship he never considered possible. He can’t deny his intense attraction to the intelligent, courteous, ancient vampire. And it scares him.
Though Vulcan is wary of seeking more with Cassius, an attack leaves him at death’s door and forces him to reexamine his priorities. But Cassius has his own secret, one that promises tragedy and loss. And if that wasn’t enough, a slayer arrives in the States, one with a bloody connection to Cassius… and Vulcan himself.
Second Edition with revised and expanded text.
Then I felt a prickling sensation on the back of my neck and spun around. I knew what that meant. My cuff blades shot out as a black form streaked in front of me. I moved to keep my back to the wall but wasn’t quick enough. The vampire slammed into me, and I fell forward. I turned the fall into a roll and came up on one knee. Thankfully, I was wearing Nicole’s jacket and the impact didn’t disable me. I still nearly lost my breath and now gasped for it back but no bones were broken or crushed, which was the bastard’s intent. It was dark, and the vampire was fast, but I had knowledge of their hunting tactics. I closed my eyes and waited, sensing the air around me. I couldn’t allow panic to grip me.
The night air stirred to my left along with a faint whoosh, and I pushed to my feet at the same time I spun. To an observer the action probably resembled a dance move. I used both blades to slice any part of his body I could find. A growl reverberated through the air and knocked against my bones. I jumped back to press against the wall as the vampire became visible. He growled at me, dressed in garish clubbing clothes, his canines all the way descended. His eyes were bright red, and they gleamed in the night as his skin stretched drastically along his bones.
Shit. He was in full feeding mode. I had to get inside the club if I wanted to stand a chance at living. The problem was the side door only went one way. I would have to run out of the alley and then toward the entrance again but the vamp was blocking the mouth of the alley. It wasn’t going to be easy, but I wasn’t ready to die today.
I doubted I cut his skin. A vampire’s hide was thick. At least I gave him something to think about.
“My name is Vulcan,” I said, proud my voice was clear and steady. “I have an alliance with Her Grace, the Duchess of California. You would do well to walk away. I am protected.”
“You’re not protected now,” he said, his voice silky and entrancing. He tried to put the whammy on me, and I gritted my teeth against it. I avoided his eyes and focused on the pain in my back where he had slammed into me. I would have a grand bruise tomorrow.
Vamps resembled demons in full feeding mode and sounded like angels.
I raised my arms, my cuff blades gleaming in the night even as he crouched to spring. Then the side door crashed open and I felt a whoosh of air shoot past me. I had enough time to think, what the fuck, when the column of air collided with the vampire, throwing him out of the alley where he crash-landed on the sidewalk. Then like a veil being parted, a second vampire appeared out of seemingly nowhere.
A menacing growl worthy of a wolf sounded from his chest as he stepped in front of me, a solid wall between me and the other vamp. I retracted my cuff blades and hid them back under my sleeves. I wouldn’t need them anymore. I alternated between annoyance at the protection and immense gratitude.
The attacking vampire stood and snarled.
“You are wrong,” Cassius said. I didn’t recognize his voice, and the menace in it sent a shiver down my spine. “He is well protected.”
The vampire appeared to consider his situation, and I was sure he sensed Cassius’s age. He debated for less than a minute before streaking away. While most vamps chose the allure-and-feed style of hunting, others preferred violence.
I leaned against the wall and focused on breathing, the fading adrenaline causing my legs to tremble. Cassius stayed where he was for a few extra minutes, watching, waiting, a shield. My shield. My stomach jittered for an entirely new reason.
He finally turned and focused on me. His eyes were their normal pretty blue, his canines retracted.
I nodded to him. “What’s up?”
He raised an eyebrow. “What’s up, indeed.”
I grinned. “Thanks. I had him right where I wanted him, of course, but I figured you saved him from a real ass-kicking.”
When I was sure my legs would hold me, I pushed away from the wall. I held out my hand. “Really, thanks.”
He stared at my hand for a moment, his expression unreadable. Then he took it, and instead of shaking, he brought it to his lips and gently kissed the back of it.
I gaped again. For a brief moment, I met his eyes.
“You’re welcome.” He squeezed my hand once before letting go. “Did he harm you?”
I stretched slightly, unable to hide a wince. “A little. I’ll be fine. I’ll just take some Advil when I get home. I’ll have a magnificent bruise tomorrow. Finishing your sword is going to be just delightful.”
He regarded me in silence for a moment. “So you are still working on it?”
I frowned. “We have a contract. Of course I am.”
He looked away. Awkward.
We walked out of the alley and back into the club, heading for the bar. I waved at Jessie and held up two fingers. He rolled his eyes and nodded. I carefully sat on the stool and rotated my shoulders and back, trying to find some position that eased the ache.
Cassius reclaimed his vodka and that reminded me he’d been talking to Justin when I spotted him. Jessie set down my two shots and gave me a concerned look, obviously seeing how I was holding myself.
I waved him off. “Nothing I can’t handle.”
He snorted and walked away.
I took one of my shots before asking Cassius, “How’d you know I was back there?”
“I smelled you.”
I blinked. “Oh.”
M.D. Grimm decided to become an author in the second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things, actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!). After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?), she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier. Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain (or else what’s the point?), finding their soul mate in the process.