QSFer Vanora Lawless has a new MM historical paranormal romance out: Imperfect Illusions.
A drafted empath. A dreamwalking poet. A world at war.
Idealistic, aspiring poet, Elliot Stone can make people feel euphoria or horror with a simple touch. But that’s only part of his magical abilities. He can also wake in the dreams of people he cares deeply for.
Stubborn, fiercely independent Warren “Sully” Sullivan is an illusionist with a secret of his own: he feels the emotions of others as visceral sensations. That, and a lifetime of fending for himself, has left him guarded.
On their last night of freedom before shipping off to training—military and magic—Elliot and Sully indulge in an explosive, emotional night together. Elliot assumes it’s a one night stand and nothing more, until he awakens in Sully’s nightmare. The urge to rescue Sully is impossible to resist. And when dream-Sully begs him to keep coming back, something Sully would never do while awake, Elliot can’t resist that either.
As real life draws them into battle, their shared dreams become a refuge that only Elliot recalls. So when Elliot has the opportunity to recruit Sully to the secret elite unit of magical soldiers he leads, he’s willing to risk everything for the man he’s fallen in love with in dreams. But being away from the front lines doesn’t mean Sully’s safe. Now they battle enemies with twisted magic where their secrets are a liability.
Can they bring their dreams—and love—to life? Or will the war cost them everything?
Warnings: On page: Violence, Graphic Sexual Content, Homophobia, Smoking, Drinking, Being forcibly restrained, Death of a friend Discussion of: Suicide.
“Come on.” He tugged Elliot down the alley into the street. The sidewalks weren’t flooded with people at this time of night. Nor were they deserted. Groups of men in suits, and nicely dressed ladies clutching their arms didn’t so much as glance their way as they passed. He felt Elliot’s heart speed and nerves ratchet every time someone got close enough to glimpse them holding hands, then slow as they strolled by without incident. It was intoxicating. The power of giving someone like Elliot a thing he couldn’t get anywhere else.
Turning onto LaSalle Street, Sully smiled at Elliot’s growing confusion. Felt that piercing incredulous gaze studying him. He slowed shy of the Hotel La Salle. The mammoth building offered some of the most luxurious accommodations in the city. Far, far beyond Sully’s means.
“You have a room?” Elliot gazed at intricate cream stonework fading to red brick and back to cream, stretching high above them in splendor.
“Sure do. Established that earlier, I thought.”
“Here?” Elliot’s eyes flicked between him and the structure, cheeks flushing.
Sully fished a key out of his pocket with his free hand. The hotel name and room number were emblazoned on the brass fob reflecting in the streetlamp. “Here.”
He wasn’t about to admit he’d hoodwinked his way into possession of the room through magic, but it had to have been obvious. Sully expected a flash of contempt. Instead Elliot’s lips quirked.
“Right. Should we put it to good use?”
His easy acceptance perversely pricked Sully’s conscience. He didn’t want Elliot walking around with the wrong idea, thinking he was a grifter. “I don’t normally use it for this sort of thing. For myself. I got a good reason.”
“I believe you.”
That easily? Who was this guy? How could he mean it? Men like him didn’t give men like Sully the benefit of the doubt. But sincerity practically glowed off him like a summer sunrise. Sully wanted to bathe in it. He can’t be for real. Can he?
Suddenly much too desperate, Sully reached up to the back of Elliot’s head and pulled him into an urgent kiss—right there in the street—mouths colliding. Elliot’s lips parted in shock or invitation—it was impossible to be sure which—maybe both. Sully took advantage. Delved his tongue inside to flick and slide over Elliot’s, tasting fancy liquor and the faintest trace of expensive cigar. Elliot smelled like indulgence and felt like luxury. His hands clutched at Sully, pulling him closer, kissing him with something like wonder-tinged desperation until the need for breath broke them apart.
Thinly banked desire pulsated in the air around them, through Sully’s veins.
I’ve never wanted anyone so bad, he didn’t say. I’d let you do anything you wanted to me. Anything.
Regaining a semblance of sense, Sully inclined his head toward the entrance. “This way.”
He forced his gaze from the naked amazement and sweetness in Elliot’s shocking baby blues and dragged him into the swanky lobby.
Even worked up as he was, the grandeur still hit him square in the chest. Made him feel small and unworthy. He cut straight through it. Tonight might be his only chance to see a place like this. Beautifully carved mahogany woodwork and brass accents gleamed. The cream marble floors were shiny and spotless beneath their feet.
Easing up on his magic a bit because Elliot fit right in here, Sully led him to the elevator. As they waited for the car he recovered his manners. “Ever stayed here before?”
“A time or two.” Elliot glanced at him. Sully couldn’t help but notice how flushed he was, and his newly vulnerable stance. Confused emotion hid beneath the surface, a shy nervousness Sully didn’t understand. One that hadn’t been there earlier.
A downright ludicrous idea occurred to him. But no. He had to be wrong. He drew on more power again so no one would overhear and asked anyway. “You’ve done this…haven’t you? Been with a man?”
Of course he had. A man who looked like him, who kissed like that, who took charge the way he had earlier. Sully had to be misreading the raw sensations. Didn’t he?
“Yes, of course. Well, no, not entirely. I’ve fucked plenty of men, been fucked, but I’ve never kissed one on the sidewalk in the middle of the street with people around. I never dreamed I could, and you…as though it was easy. As if you didn’t have the slightest fear of—”
Sully sent him a crooked smile. The ornately styled brass elevator doors opened. “Promised I’d keep you safe, didn’t I?”
Vanora Lawless is a bisexual genderfluid Canadian with ADHD and a passion for telling love stories set in magical or niche historical worlds. A graduate of Saint Mary’s University, Vanora has a B.A, majoring in psychology. As a Nova Scotian, loving long walks on the beach is practically a law, so Vanora takes every possible opportunity to explore the best sandy shores. In spare time between crafting new worlds and stories, Vanora can be found behind the lens of a camera or in a blanket burrito with a good book.