Lane, a newborn vampire, still feels the pain of betrayal. Two years ago, a faithless boyfriend took his life, and now, Lane’s Maker has also left him behind. The pain of separation burns strong when all Lane wants are arms to hold him and enough warm blood to satisfy his voracious appetite. At a shifter party, Lane is drawn to a hunky Alpha werewolf who tries to console him.
Parker is more than a thoughtless hookup. Since his family disowned him for finding boys just as hot as girls, all he wants is someone to love and look after. The sweet little vamp calls to his protective instincts, but he sure is jumpy. Cuddling with boys is new and delicious, but when this boy also wants him as a food source, things get complicated.
Vampires and shifters aren’t supposed to get along, and Parker’s rough dominance triggers bad memories for Lane. But Parker’s wolf wants Lane, and he knows he can give Lane what he needs. Can Lane learn to navigate his past and give the thing growing between them a chance? Or will the very real possibilities of heartache, abandonment, and even death, keep them apart?
Updated and expanded version.
I’m so glad Lane was able to share a letter he wrote. He stops by today with a letter he wrote to a younger version of himself. He gives himself some advice that will make you wonder what leads to give that kind of advice. Read and enjoy!
Dear 17-Year-Old Lane,
It’s okay not to get As on all of your finals. It doesn’t matter which school you go to. Just pick one, because you’re not going to finish anyway.
Unless you stay away from Adrian; please stay away from him.
He’s going to be hot and say all the right things, and he’ll be fun because he’s unpredictable. But excitement isn’t what you really want out of a relationship, believe me. Your first love should be somebody who says nice things just to make you happy, not because they hope it will get you into bed.
And I know, I know, you can’t even imagine a hot boy liking you right now. It seems like every one of them is straight. But it’s going to happen. And he’s going to be really good at getting you off, but there are men out there who are capable of getting you off and loving you at the same time.
Or at least, I hope so. But no boy in your bed is better than a monster.
And I mean that literally. There are monsters out there—creatures in the dark who would drain you dry if given the chance.
Adrian’s one of them, and if you give him that chance, he’ll kill you.
But don’t panic. Just remember this: when you’re at that Superbowl party, and Adrian comes up to you with his pretty smile and perfect hair, give him a fake number. That’s all you have to do.
Your future self
Lane owed his Maker everything, so he had no right to be sad. Except the Maker/progeny Bond that had been a pain in his ass (not literally, unfortunately) since Theo had saved his life ensured that he would be sad, regardless. Theo had gone off to some vampire summit just last night, and he would be gone for a whole year. Lane, “babyvamp” that he was, was not important enough to go to a summit. As everybody in the den kept telling him, he had to learn to survive distance with his Maker eventually. It still hurt like a cracked sternum, though.
Maybe Lane had accepted the invitation to this shifter party as a fuck-you to Theo and his other denmates. Or maybe it had been Heather’s good-natured prodding that had brought him to the alley behind her house in Ferndale. She’d said he shouldn’t be alone right now, which was true. But he wasn’t sure if being in a house full of shifters was going to be all that helpful. He’d been to her house a few times before when other shifters were present. A good few of them hated vampires and had no qualms about giving him dirty looks whenever he showed. “They’re more open-minded than you think,” she’d told him over and over, but those looks said different.
Prime example: the shifter smoking on the back porch.
Brown and orange leaves crunched under Lane’s sneakers as he ascended the wooden stairs, and he shoved his hands into the pockets of his hoodie. He didn’t need the hoodie; he was impervious to the temperamental Michigan weather, after all, but it was best to keep up appearances.
The shifter was tall and fit, dressed in a flannel shirt and gray beanie. Lane had to edge past him to get to the sliding double doors that led into the living room. As he did so, the shifter’s confident gaze landed on him. Behind smoke tendrils, his eyes glowed orange.
Lane’s skin broke out in goose pimples—his vampire instincts telling him there was a threat here.
“Problem?” The shifter exposed his eyeteeth with a crooked grin.
Lane shook his head and hurried inside.
As soon as the soles of his sneakers hit the carpet, pleasant warmth washed over his cold skin, getting rid of those goose pimples. Shifters burned even hotter than humans, and there were a lot of them packed inside the house. A few of them were around the coffee table, playing what appeared to be Euchre, but most of them merely sat around talking.
Lane headed past them, looking for Heather and her head of dirty-blonde waves. He found her in the kitchen. She was spraying whipped cream into glasses filled with coffee-colored liquid.
“Who’s the guy smoking outside?” Lane knew Heather hated being around smokers; like many shifters, she disliked the smell. Lane didn’t mind it, even though he also had enhanced senses. His denmate Erica smoked out of a vintage cigarette holder like Cruella de Vil.
“Parker. He’s new. Want a shot?” Heather dipped a finger into one of the glasses and sucked whipped cream off her glossy nail.
Lane scrunched his nose. “No, thanks.” He preferred hard liquor. He opened one of the cabinets, found some vodka, and took several swallows straight from the bottle before wiping his mouth on his sleeve.
“Trying to get drunk?” asked Heather.
“Yeah. Fuck everything.” He’d have to wake up his heart to get drunk, but pouring the liquor down his throat was the first order of business. He needed to drown the ache in his chest. He needed to forget the hard line of Theo’s shoulders and the way his curls looked after he got out of the shower, dark and shining. How he’d lock eyes with Lane sometimes and—
“You should try talking to some people,” said Heather. “You need to make some friends.”
“You’re my friend, aren’t you?”
She gave Lane a knowing, playful look that probably would have melted some guys.
Lane screwed the cap back on the vodka bottle and headed toward the hallway, where the bathroom was. There were only two ways to get his heart to start beating, and he needed to be alone for one of them. Or with someone else, but that wasn’t happening. Not unless it was Theo, who was 1) not interested, and 2) on the other side of the world.
He was about a foot from the bathroom door when he stopped and gasped. The goose pimples sprouted back up, and his heart kicked into life. Wolf. Threat.
But this was a shifter party. Just because it usually happened much later at night didn’t mean they couldn’t shift now. Lane closed his eyes and took a slow breath. He registered the scent of cigarette smoke as the alcohol swam in his bloodstream, egged on by the heavy, unnatural thud of his vampire heart.
“Parker?” he said softly. The wolf’s orange eyes matched those of the smoker outside. “You scared me.”
Lyssa Dering is an author of queer erotic romance. She writes about damaged characters in impossible situations who, despite often horrifying struggles, will always get their happy ending.
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