Stephanie Burke has a new MM dark fantasy romance out: Absolute Perfection.
Prince Taza is a seahorse, the sole male offspring of the Coushrin king, and heir to the throne. Sounds great, right? Not really. For one thing, two crazy female seahorses are vying to impregnate him and become the next queen of the Coushrin dynasty because seahorses mate for life. He doesn’t want to be just a breeder while his wife rules the seas. But if being the prey and intended brood-stallion of two insane females isn’t bad enough, Taza’s also being chased by a human who’s determined to attain immortality by eating him. Stir fried, easy on the garlic.
What does he do? Flee to a vampire bar on the surface world, where he meets Astika, a Hindu Naga god. Astika’s been dispatched on a fool’s errand, because his advice to his uncle and grandfather’s harems is causing mayhem in the kingdom. He wasn’t supposed to meet a seahorse prince, save his life, and end up mated in the process. But when Astika saves Prince Taza from the human who might just be crazier than the two seahorses chasing him, Taza does the only smart thing and pledges himself to the Naga. For life. Since they’re stuck with each other, Astika might as well see what it’s like with a seahorse. Together, out of the wildest circumstances imaginable, these two lovers create Absolute Perfection.
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“You’re a dick, and I don’t think I like you.”
Chris growled the words while leaning with arms braced on his bar.
“I have a mighty fine dick, thank you very much, and I really don’t care what you think.” Astika stared at the bartender as he answered with all the sarcasm he could muster. “I just need some information and some quiet, and in that order.”
“I can tell you the same thing I told your contacts. I don’t have the information you seek no matter what your family told you” — the bartender began to grin a little maniacally — “but boy, do I have the perfect drink for you.”
“I don’t drink.”
“Maybe you should start.” This came from what must be the bastard of a bartender’s wife, the Naga decided. She peeked out from behind the swinging doors to the kitchen before she disappeared again, no doubt to fry up some small, defenseless creature for consumption. “It just might soften your disposition a bit.”
Everyone knew that the vampires who operated this bar worked as a team, and it was said that the female was often more trouble than the male.
“I really don’t care if you do or if you don’t” — the vampire shrugged inelegantly — “but I have to agree with her and say that maybe drinking would improve your attitude.” Chris gave him his words back, smiling as a small frown curved down the corners of Astika’s rather thin lips. “You came into my bar tossing your name and title around and demanding things, Naga, and it’s my job as the best bartender in the tristate area to see to it that you leave with exactly what you need.”
“But not what I want.”
“Buddy, haven’t you heard that you can’t always get what you want?” called a youngish female voice.
Astika felt his frown grow deeper as he looked around the place. There were two small children staring back at him. It was the girl child who had spoken the sarcastic words, her dark eyes glowing as she stared up at him. Her brown hair was styled into two ponytails, and she had the same countenance as Chris, the bearded asshole of a bartender who refused to give him straight answers. She appeared to be around seven or eight — with vampires it was hard to tell the age of their young ones — but her eyes looked ancient.
The boy child was a bit smaller than her, with dark blond hair and green eyes and looked just like the female who’d popped out of the kitchen earlier to add sage bits of advice. The family resemblance was stunning.
But the young male vamp said nothing about the antics of the adults, merely shaking his head at their childish behavior. He absently rolled a chess piece between two fingers before boldly reaching out to the board that sat between him and the small female who could only be his sister. He then blithely moved her queen a box over before making his own move. “Checkmate,” he declared, his face looking as innocent as a preacher’s daughter.
“Cheater!” his sister squawked, turning back to their game, and then the familial arguing commenced as the pair proceeded to ignore the adults once more.
“You make that sound like a threat.” The blue-haired Naga disregarded the goings-on of the young ones and focused his attention on the bartender again.
“It sounds like fact to me.” Chris sucked at his front fangs as he reached for a collection of tall bottles and a metal shaker. “You would do well to listen.”
Then with a few deft moves, Chris made the bottles dance. It was an art form the way the muscular brunet juggled three uncapped bottles, tossing them over his head, behind his back, and twisting them in midair, never allowing a drop to spill where it wasn’t supposed to.
Finally, in short, controlled flicks of his wrist, measured amounts of liquor were poured midjuggle into a tall metal shaker. Once the proper amounts were reached, he flipped the bottles back into their places and took up the metal container.
The bartender capped it and began to shake it gently as he eyed the blue-haired man. After a moment and a few considering looks, he placed the shaker on the bar and retrieved a tall, frosty glass. He poured the pale-colored mixed drink with a flourish. And after a final squirt of juice from his bar gun, he whipped out a cherry from its dispenser and tossed it into the glass before he slid the drink in front of the frowning Naga.
“Not impressed?” Chris asked, flashing just a bit of fang from behind his neatly trimmed mustache as he grinned widely at his customer.
Astika just glared.
“Too bad.” He attempted to sound remorseful and failed. “And I gave you the free show and everything.”
“I don’t drink.”
“You’ll drink this.” Chris chuckled. “After all, it was tailor-made just for you.”
Astika reached out with long, thin fingers and tapped at the condensation beading up on the glass before him. He pulled it closer to himself, eyeing the slightly blue liquid, before inhaling deeply. He raised an eyebrow as he stared at Chris.
“I’m not getting anything out of you until I drink this, right?”
“Smarter than you look.” And from the look in Chris’s eye, his estimation of him put him somewhere between arrogant ass and airhead lackey.
He looked behind Chris to stare at the mirrored wall behind the bar and tilted his head, trying to see what the vampire was seeing.
He had long, flowing deep blue hair — not the electric stuff you find in bottles, but a deep dark blue that had subtle purple highlights. His eyes were beetle black, no light escaping and allowing no emotion to show. His nose was rather aquiline, his nostrils thin and flaring, his face narrow with a slightly pointy chin.
His body gave off a useless-pretty-boy facade as well; he was thin and tall with a model’s body and tight musculature. But most damning was that he was quite feminine in the face. He knew he was the epitome of the word <em>twink</em>. He appeared childlike but was saved from being almost too cute to be male by his height, the thin lips, and attitude.
“Gee, thanks,” he deadpanned before lifting the drink to his mouth. “What is this called, anyway?”
“Well, they don’t have a drink called jackass yet, so I did you one better. This, my friend, is perfect for you. It’s called an Absolut Fucker.”
“I’m not your friend.” The Naga paused with the drink in his hand, nearly to his lips. “And you may call me Astika.”
Stephanie is a USA Today Best Selling, multi published, multi award-winning author, Master Costumer, handicapped, wife and mother of two.
From sex-shifting, shape-shifting dragons to undersea worlds, sexually confused elemental Fey and homo-erotic mysteries, all the way to pastel-challenged urban sprites, Stephanie has done it all, and hopes to do more.
Stephanie is an orator on her favorite subjects of writing and world-building, a sometime teacher when you feed her enough tea and donuts, an anime nut, a costumer, and a frequent guest of various sci-fi and writing cons where she can be found leading panel discussions or researching varied legends and theories to improve her writing skills.
Stephanie is known for her love of the outrageous, strong female characters, believable worlds, male characters filled with depth, and multi-cultural stories that make the reader sit up and take notice.