QSFer Damian Serbu has a new MM paranormal romance out, Realm of the Vampire Council book 5: The Vampire’s War. And there’s a giveaway.
War brews among vampires. Facing extinction at the hands of an ancient one, the Vampire Council plods along with a secret strategy. Jaret Bachmann, both vampire and witch, fears the Council elders move too slowly. He has the power to assist them in defeating their enemy, but the longer they keep him at arm’s length the more defiant he becomes. He’s already pushing the boundaries to assert his will when tragedy strikes, devastating him and compelling him to become even more rebellious.
A young vampire alone in the world, Jaret struggles to find his true self and discover how he wants to spend the remainder of his eternal life, even as the vampire war intensifies and the rogue vampire strikes again. To compound his problems, he’s faced with the allure of a hot renegade vampire, not sure if he is friend or foe.
Who will win the war, and where will Jaret’s soul-searching lead him?
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20 January 2019
Estes Park, Colorado
Jaret hugged himself as if to fend off the frigid air blowing across Lake Estes on a winter’s night. His long, brown curly hair blew into his face, blurring the image of the man sauntering away. The muscular hunk faded into the distance, his rock-solid body and sandy brown hair nothing but a memory.
Of course, Jaret wasn’t cold. A vampire’s body was immune to the elements, always a perfect temperature. He clutched his arms around his slight but powerful body to contain the emotion vying to burst out. The lust for Charon, a narcissistic vampire Jaret loved to flirt with, always made his head spin. The forbidden alure frazzled his mind because Jaret was completely loyal to Anthony, the most powerful and oldest vampire in the world.
More than desire confounded him at the moment, however. The dread of a looming vampire war, over five years in the making but brewing beneath the surface, had his emotions on edge. He had met Charon and started their flirtatious relationship because of the impending war, seeing the powerful warlock vampire as a needed ally. But Jaret felt guilty for courting Charon and his harem of hot men to join the cause without the Vampire Council’s knowledge.
Jaret, a strong vampire and even more powerful witch, feared little in terms of humans or other vampires. He felt certain of his own justification for defying the Council and even more confident he had never betrayed Anthony. But containing his rage and terror threatened to undo him.
It was becoming too much to balance outward obedience to the Council with his secret intentions about the war. Jaret’s magic pushed him to make his own plans to fight, despite the Council ordering him to stay out of the way.
Both conflicting agendas whirled in his head.
When another being materialized before him, as if dropped from heaven, Jaret launched himself twenty feet backward in one swift motion and took a defensive posture. Lost in his thoughts, he’d failed to sense the approaching danger.
Jaret remained rigid, even as the person before him stepped forward, transforming from an unknown threat into a very familiar vampire. The long blond hair. The bright blue eyes. The hot muscles. The height. Everything about Anthony’s appearance thrilled Jaret as much as during their first encounter along the shore of Lake Michigan when Anthony saved Jaret from a gang of football players wanting to rob and bash him.
Usually, Jaret would run into those inviting arms, but tonight the full moon shone down on the infuriated face Jaret never liked to see on his lover. The telltale thrum of a vein in Anthony’s forehead gave away the rage. Anthony pressed his lips together and glared.
Jaret’s body trembled. After losing his entire family when an enraged ghost had killed them, Anthony and his friends had saved Jaret. Jaret loathed the thought of losing his vampire family, but this episode would come of his own doing because, without a word being spoken, Jaret knew Anthony had caught him with Charon.
“How long has this been going on?” Anthony spoke in a measured tone, stepping forward with a slow, deliberate movement.
Jaret remained crouched in a defensive posture. “What?”
“Don’t play innocent,” Anthony sneered. “I didn’t want to believe my eyes. Even when confronted with the evidence. How long have you been cheating on me?”
Jaret shook his head. “Never. I never cheated on you.” His heart sank as he ignored all the questions except the accusation of infidelity. All the temptation, the repeated and earnest attempts by Charon to fuck Jaret, but he never betrayed his lover. Never.
Anthony rushed forward and grabbed Jaret’s crotch. He spat his words into Jaret’s ear. “Your erection says otherwise.”
“No.” Jaret whispered. “Nothing ever happened. I went to him for help. We need him.”
Anthony released Jaret’s cock and stepped away, facing the frozen lake with his back to Jaret. “Explain, or I leave.” Anthony stood straight as an arrow before taking two steps farther away from Jaret. “When I do, I’ll bring the full wrath of the Vampire Council down upon you. It will be as if you and I never fell in love.”
Jaret gasped out his despair. “Without knowing the truth, you’d throw me into the wind?” A blood tear trickled down his cheek.
Anthony turned and clutched Jaret’s arms in his fists before yanking him forward. He spoke in a whisper, his rigid façade evaporating in the cold night air. “Talk to me. Explain this before my world crumbles around me.”
Jaret leaned into Anthony and flung his arms around his waist. They embraced for several minutes before Jaret stopped shaking and looked into Anthony’s eyes.
“It’s not what you think.” His voice quaked. “I met him about four years ago. Right after we learned some renegade vampire was plotting a war against the Vampire Council and threatening to exterminate vampires. You know I disagreed with the Council’s caution. I discovered Charon through magic. He’s a vampire, yes, but his maker created him with a spell to conceal him from all other vampires, including the Vampire Council.”
“How is that possible?” Alarm sounded in Anthony’s voice. “What maker? Why?”
“I don’t know. But Charon’s also a witch. Like me. A vampire and a witch. Hidden from everyone. He created his own harem of vampire guys, and they live separate from other vampires. He’s not a threat. Charon only wants to live without interference. But his power and ability could help us. We have to plan for this war. We’ll need every force available.”
Anthony walked along the path circling the lake. He gripped Jaret’s hand as they continued, like a couple on a warm summer’s evening.
“Do you love him?”
Jaret laughed despite the situation. “No. He’s not very loveable. Not my type of personality.”
“But he is your type in terms of being in command, hot, and domineering. So maybe you fucked him for fun.”
Anthony’s bitter words wiped the smile from Jaret’s face. “No.” He shook his head. “I mean, I hear you. He’s hot. Like if a college-aged dude with long hair, full red lips, hazel eyes, and a slight build came running by right now.” Jaret pointed to himself. “You’d watch his tight ass run by and admire the beauty. You’d flirt like hell if he stopped to ask for directions. But you wouldn’t go seduce him, even if he came at you first. It’s the same for me. Yeah, he’s hot. I lust for him, but I love you. I would never betray you for a quick fuck with another man. I couldn’t survive losing you.” Jaret choked out a cry with the last words.
The silence between them as they sauntered over a bridge that crossed the Thompson River almost undid Jaret as Anthony considered his words. Anthony tightened his clutch on Jaret’s hand, causing Jaret to stumble at the signal Anthony may have believed him.
“I wouldn’t survive either.” Anthony released Jaret and wiped a tear from his face but his anger returned too soon. “That doesn’t explain your defiance of the Council. I have a duty to the vampire ethic, regardless of how my service to the Council affects you and me.”
Jaret sighed. Their same argument. “We’ve been over our disagreement a million times. The Council keeps me in the dark.” Jaret bit his lip before raging against the Vampire Council, an ancient entity with power to enforce vampiric laws. The members possessed a sorcery to detect defiance of their edicts, and they could punish those who disobeyed, including a death sentence. The Council spent most of its time regulating the one hundred or so vampires worldwide so that everyone kept their existence a secret from humanity. The possible war meant they needed to shift their focus, and their slow movement toward the battle infuriated Jaret, especially because he had no voice there, despite knowing all five members on an intimate level. “And I think you’re being too passive. The Council needs to act, fast. It’s been over four years since we learned about a possible war. We know the enemy’s getting ready to move.”
“You’re too powerful a witch. We’ve talked about your magic too. Trust the Council. We’re keeping abreast of the situation.”
“Magic, magic, magic. You throw my power in my face all the time. It’s a part of me, which you also knew as soon as you met me. So how about we get over my power already. Let me in on the meetings. I feel like a total dweeb—all my friends sit on the Council. You. Xavier. Thomas. Catherine. Harriet. All the important people in my life. But I sit on the outside like a fucking asshole because my jewels give me power. It’s fucking ridiculous.”
Anthony stopped and frowned at Jaret. “Maybe we keep you at a distance because you’re young and impetuous.”
Damian Serbu is an author of gay horror/speculative fiction. After over twenty years of teaching history at the collegiate level, he now writes full time. He lives in the Chicagoland area with his husband and two dogs.