Author: Gillian St. Kevern
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: Dec. 26
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Romance, paranormal, vampires, demons, mystery
Recovering vampire Ben is discovering that life after death is hard work. It will take more than a reflection to impress his boyfriend Nate’s religious mother. And Nate’s twin brother, Ethan, openly resents Ben’s presence at the family farm. Nate is confident they can build a normal life together, but Ben’s not even sure he knows what normal is. He can’t face his reflection, let alone his past, while Nate refuses to divulge his family’s supernatural secret. Can they build a future on such shaky foundations?
When a supernatural hunter is found dead on the family farm, Ethan becomes the main suspect in a murder investigation that puts Ben and Nate at odds. Nate wants to protect his family and stay silent about what he is, but Ben knows no one is safe until the demonic agent responsible for a string of murders is caught. Defying Nate to investigate alone, Ben can’t let the demon claim another victim. But as his investigation continues, he discovers links to a past he thought he’d buried—and a past Nate refuses to acknowledge. With a desperate killer on a deadline, Ben must face the literal demons in his past if he wants to have any chance of saving himself and Nate from a fate worse than death.
Ben’s phone buzzed in his pocket, startling him out of the memory. It buzzed three more times as he found it, and Ben shook his head wryly as he looked at the lock screen. Was giving Nate a phone a bad idea?
―Going to keep doing this until you reply
Ben smiled, tapping in his passcode. ―That’s entirely unnecessary, Nate. What’s so important it can’t wait?
―Think you can get to the barn without anyone seeing you?
Ben stared at the message for a moment. Then he stood, making his way through shadow to the window. The night was clear, the moon casting a faint glow, making the shadows darker. The barn was one solid black profile against the night, unfathomably deep.
Something in Ben woke. His heart beat in anticipation. Navigating the garden in the dark was a challenge even without the police officer stationed outside on guard duty to contend with.
―Absolutely, he typed. Why?
―Tell you when you get here.
Ben placed his phone in his pocket. Fortunately, his sneakers were close at hand. Nate was confident that Ethan liked Ben, but Ben wasn’t convinced. He’d taken to keeping his sneakers inside the spare bedroom when he wasn’t wearing them to make sure they didn’t get lost a second time. Ben pulled them on in the dark. Eyes already adjusted to the night, Ben opened the spare room window.
The garden felt different in the dark. The sweetly scented flowers had retired with the sun, and the cool night air carried a smell that seemed to come from the earth itself. Unseen trees whispered softly in the breeze. The porch creaked as the officer on guard duty paced.
Ben slipped quietly across the grass. The floral hedge masked him from view, and he moved with the wind, letting the sound of rustling leaves disguise any sound he made. The open field before the barn gave him slight difficulty, but Ben used the shadows cast by Nate’s truck and the barn itself to melt into the night. He pulled the door behind him, heart beating fast but his breathing perfectly under control. The night was his.
The only light in the barn came from a dusty skylight, through which the moonlight fell in one pool. Nate stood in its center, looking at his phone. He was perfectly outlined as if he stood on stage beneath a spotlight―or only seconds away from an alien abduction.
Little River is getting to me. Shaking his head, Ben ghosted across the barn floor to place his hand on Nate’s arm. “I’m here.”
Nate jumped, hastily grabbing at his phone. “Jesus Christ, Ben! You scared me!”
“Keep your voice down.” Ben hoped that the shadows hid his amusement. “Not unless you want our police escort rushing in to investigate.”
Nate breathed out, turning to face Ben. “After all the effort of sneaking out here? Pass.” He tucked his phone into the back pocket of his jeans.
Ben looked around the barn. The musty air smelled of hay and animals. The floor was mostly clear, but Ben could see hay bales piled up against the wall, and a ladder leading up to some kind of loft. Pieces of machinery, unidentifiable in the dark, loomed strangely. “What’s up?”
Nate reached for Ben. “I wanted to talk to you. But now you’re here, I don’t know what to say.” His fingers traveled restlessly up and down Ben’s arm.
Ben raised an eyebrow. “Do you really want to talk?”
“Well, yeah. I mean―given everything that’s happened, anything else would be weird.”
And yet, Nate was still touching him. “Heard of terror management theory?” As Nate shook his head, Ben continued. “You were threatened tonight, confronted with your own mortality. Faced with the prospect of death, our biological imperative kicks into overdrive, making us want to reproduce as quickly as possible.”
“Shouldn’t we decide whether we’re dating before talking about kids?”
Ben nudged Nate with his elbow. “It’s only a theory. But if it’s right, basically, we’re hard-wired to want to fuck.”
“This explains so much about why vampires are so popular.” Nate drew Ben towards him.
“It’s a subconscious urge. Completely natural.” Ben lightly placed a hand on Nate’s side. “But vampires take advantage of it.”
“Really.” Nate’s voice lowered confidentially. “Planning on taking advantage of me?”
“You forget.” Ben leaned in, deliberately speaking to Nate’s sensitive neck. “I’m no longer a vampire.” He was so close to Nate that he felt the shiver go through him.
Nate leaned over Ben. His voice dripped with calculated insolence. “You’re saying we’re just some biological urge then?”
Challenging me. Ben felt the spike in adrenaline at the same time as the arousal. He placed his hand on Nate’s chest. Nate’s breathing was rapid, his body tense. Violence, the urge to fight, assert dominance and reclaim territory seemed equally as likely as sex. Supernatural being who has hurt you once, the logical part of Ben’s mind reminded him. You won’t survive a tree being thrown at you―if that’s all he does. The voice coiled at the back of Ben’s mind, sinuously inserting itself in a cold shiver running across his shoulders. You don’t know him. You don’t know what he’s capable of.
I’ve had it up to here with the unknown. Ben tightened his fingers in Nate’s T-shirt, tugging him down to face level. He could feel Nate’s startled exhalation on his cheek. Time to tackle this head on. “Want to find out?”
Gillian St. Kevern writes anything from YA to contemporary comedies, but her first love is always the paranormal. Her stories feature quirky characters, twisty plots and often travel in unexpected directions.
Gillian has just returned to New Zealand after eleven years teaching English in rural Japan. From being entirely surrounded by rice paddies, she is now entirely surrounded by sheep. She is attempting to stave off reverse culture shock by finally learning to drive, playing with her adorable niece, and, of course, writing!
12/23 Love Bytes Reviews
12/26 Alpha Book Club
12/27 Purple Rose Teahouse
12/28 Bayou Book Junkie
12/29 Prism Book Alliance