What lurks in the dark isn’t always a monster. Sometimes it’s your deepest desire.
After a thousand years of fighting, the war between the alien factions is coming to a conclusion. The outcome will determine the fate of the world. And while Alex and Dracul fight for supremacy, Annika has her own secret agenda.
Craig Jefferson is a vice cop who has been thrown into the surreal world where alien vampires are locked in a struggle to dominate his planet. After witnessing the massacre at Club Lux, he has thrown his lot in with Alex’s crew, determined to help save his species. His decision is bolstered by his inexplicable attraction to one of Dracul’s victims. The shy, abused man is not his usual type, but keeping him safe becomes Craig’s mission.
Alun survived centuries of abuse, only to find himself a different kind of captive. Being useful and staying on the sidelines is the only way he knows. The re-emergence of his faith, as well as a surprising attraction to an American cop, is giving him the courage to break free of his past and his present. If only he could save his son from Dracul, he would see a future for himself once again.
Craig and Alun are mere cogs in the battle gearing up, but they are determined to play a role, even as they tentatively explore a life together.
Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and non-consensual sex.
General Release Date: 4th August 2020
Alun bolted upright in bed, a scream stuck in his throat. It fought to escape, but he held it back, his mouth wide open in silent horror. He’d learned early in his slavery to never disturb his alien master with something as irrelevant as his own terror. That mistake had only led to punishment and the hideous pain that accompanied it. It was better to trap it all inside and push it down deep, where even he didn’t dare look. With his heart pounding, he clenched the bedding while fighting to regain control. It had only been a nightmare, nothing real, except it had contained bits from his actual life as a slave. The fact that he no longer lived in that world of misery didn’t help. The remnants of his excruciating past hung around his neck, as surely as the chains Jacob Marley had forged. The image from that book he’d been allowed to read long ago stayed with him as the perfect representation of his own life. There was no escaping what had been done to him, what he’d survived. And now it threatened to repeat itself in a new and unfathomable way.
“Merlin.” He dared to whisper his son’s name. There was no one to hear. He practically swam in the huge, luxurious bed afforded him in a room that was bigger than the tiny house he’d lived in with his family—before his world had been upended by a creature without mercy or morals, who had used him as a toy and an unnatural breeder of his unholy spawn. At least, that was how he’d viewed his son in the beginning.
He clutched at the simple gold crucifix Lucien had kindly given him. The comfort of his religion had been denied him for so long. It was strange and miraculous to regain it. No one in this household would care about his wearing this symbol. Many of the aliens wore something similar, except they weren’t believers—not really. It was simply one way in which they’d sought to blend in among humans. For him, it truly meant something, a rebirth of his belief and hope that God had not forsaken him. He hid the sign beneath his shirt to keep it private as he slowly regained his faith.
Tightening his grip, he dared to say a prayer for his son. “Please, God, keep him safe. Forgive me for ever denying him my love and protection.” It had been hard to accept the squalling bundle that had been cut out of him and impossible to protect him from the brutality of the alien who was his sire. When Merlin had started to abuse him as well, it had almost been a relief. It had given him a reason to harden his heart and turn away from the violence visited upon him with such casual cruelty.
That carefully constructed shell had begun to crack. His son was not who Alun had thought him to be—or he’d changed with the right influence, something Alun had never possessed. When Dracul’s army of mercenaries had invaded, Merlin had looked into Alun’s eyes and expressed his sorrow over his violence. That had been the first real connection between them. Alun had seen actual regret and a softness of feeling that was purely human. At that moment, he’d found something of himself in his son and had known hope. But with that discovery came other, more frightening emotions. Now, he worried about Merlin. Was he truly safe? Was he even alive? Could he manage to deceive and betray Dracul without paying the ultimate price of losing his life?
For the first time, Alun prayed for his son to live.
“Mary, Mother of God, please watch over him.” He brought the crucifix to his lips, a reflexive action that helped calm the last of his nerves.
He released his grip on the bedding as well and lay back against his mound of pillows. Really, the luxury he lived in was almost as disconcerting as his captivity in Dracul’s castle had been. He didn’t know what to do with it. In his early life, he’d shared a small bed with two brothers. As a slave, he’d confined himself to a narrow strip of a bigger bed that he’d been forced to sleep in with his master. That arrangement had been about convenience, not kindness. His master had wanted him handy for his pleasure. Alun would have preferred sleeping on the cold stone floor rather than lying near his torturer. As he lay in the middle of his enormous mattress now, he felt just as small and insignificant as he had for those long decades of captivity. Little had changed, other than he could be sure that only his own thoughts would disturb him here.
He sighed and stared up at the pristine white ceiling. The muted light seeping past the edge of the curtain told him that dawn was breaking, and while no one expected him to be up with the sun and toiling away anymore, experience told him that trying to go back to sleep would prove impossible. Giving in to reality, he shoved aside the bedding and got up. It was easy to head to the bathroom, because the light in there had been on all night. Since his ‘rescue’ by these less-frightening aliens, he’d been afraid to sleep in the dark. He knew now that monsters really did lurk about, and he needed to see his surroundings clearly the moment he opened his eyes. It was embarrassing, although no one probably knew what he did. Also, no one seemed to care. When he was in his bedroom, everyone left him alone. The privacy was appreciated—but also unnerving. He couldn’t quite trust that anything was being done for his benefit. It wouldn’t surprise him if the one called Val had eyes on him through his security system.
Not that it mattered. He’d learned to accept what he couldn’t change and survive in any way possible. Suicide had only briefly touched his mind in those terrible early days. He’d been true enough to his faith to not go through with it. He’d believed—and still did—in the promise of eternal heavenly peace if he followed God’s rules. Taking his own life had not been an option then, and there was no reason to contemplate it now. Only the most chopsy of people would resent the privileged life he was currently leading. He was always warm and well-fed and had lovely clothing that he was allowed to wear, instead of the often-enforced nudity back in the castle.
No one had hit him since he’d left the horrid place, not even Merlin—although his son had come close at one point—and his body was his own. No one forced themselves inside him or used him for pleasure in other ways. For the first time in over a hundred years, his body didn’t ache or bleed. There was no reason to want to end his time on Earth, other than this persistent and nagging anxiety that threatened to swamp him every minute of every day.
He pushed down that feeling, which was particularly insistent due to his recent nightmare, and focused on the mundane. After relieving himself in the glorious effectiveness of modern plumbing, he headed for the shower. He was careful to avert his gaze as he passed the long mirror above the sink counter. Looking at himself was something he avoided as much as possible. He might not be a victim of violence anymore, but his body still bore the markings of it. There was hardly a section that didn’t contain a scar from knives, whips or pokers that had been used to bring him under his master’s control. Even when he’d capitulated, the lessons had continued, especially if he’d dared to make even the tiniest of mistakes. He was hideous in his own eyes, and because sleeping nude had become engrained in him, his battered skin was all too evident.
The coolness of the stone tile floor made his toes curl, but he refused to use the convenience of the heating system. There was something unseemly to him about pampering himself that much. Really, the room was warm enough, and soon he’d be under a spray of water that he could make as hot as he wished. And he didn’t need four shower heads… One would do nicely. He tested the temperature before getting in, putting the heat level to just shy of scalding and letting the water sluice over him. The intense heat was cleansing, washing away more than surface dirt. It was fine to spend as long as he wanted, apparently. So said Lucien—and Alun had come to depend on the man as something of a kindred spirit and a kindly mentor who helped him navigate through this often-confusing new life. Like Alun, Lucien knew what it was like to be under the control of vicious men. He understood Alun’s fears, even without him having to express them. Alun trusted the man’s advice. So, he didn’t hurry to wash, and no matter how long he took, experience had taught him that the water never ran cool.
This ability to wash was another blessing long denied him. He often showered more than once a day because it felt so good to be clean. And yet, he never truly did. Some part of him always felt dirty, defiled, no matter how hard or often he scrubbed at his skin and hair. Back in Wales, he’d been forced to ignore it, making do with tepid sponge baths and cold rinses from rainwater. Now, it seemed that the more he washed, the dirtier he felt. He knew it was nonsense, but he couldn’t shake it. And the longer he stood under that spray, the more his mind insisted on focusing on unpleasant matters. Keeping busy was his best defense.
With that thought in mind, he hurried to finish, no longer enjoying the experience. This was how it always ended. The soft towels at his disposal made quick work of drying him. His closet and drawers were filled with more clothing than he could possibly use. He grabbed items at random—a sweater, jeans and socks. Underwear was available, but really, that was something that made no sense to him. Small clothes were for rich people, unless it was about keeping warm, which it wasn’t for him. It was enough to have the barrier provided by what he did tug on. Low boots in soft leather completed his dressing. His final act to get ready for the day was to brush and pull back his hair into a slick tail. He didn’t mind it being wet because, again, the whole house was warm. He didn’t have the patience for using that air-blowing contraption that Lucien had given him.
Samantha Cayto is a Boston-area native who practices as a business lawyer by day while writing erotic romance at night—the steamier the better. She likes to push the envelope when it comes to writing about passion and is delighted other women agree that guy-on-guy sex is the hottest ever.
She lives a typical suburban life with her husband, three kids and four dogs. Her children don't understand why they can't read what she writes, but her husband is always willing to lend her a hand—and anything else—when she needs to choreograph a scene.