Stride and Zero find that being sent back to ancient times means revisiting old wars and opening up old wounds…
When we last saw Stride and Zero, they had plummeted back in time to Pompeii's last day when the town became buried under a volcanic eruption. Somehow catapulted into the Coliseum, Stride must now face lions and an unexpected foe in the form of a demon.
Meanwhile, Zero comes face to face with Stride's vile and villainous mother, The Vampire Queen, who keeps Zero hostage in the stands with her, forcing him to watch Stride fight for his life. Can Zero and Stride escape the death she wishes to bestow on them both?
Reader Advisory:This book is part of an ongoing serial series, best read in order as it continues.
General Release Date: 29th August 2011
There were no flames and no smell of sulphur in the air. Everything was a whirl of faces and movement and sound. Some people were stomping their feet, others screamed, tore at their clothes, even fornicated in the stands. It was taking some time for Zero to get his bearings. He hated these damn games. One minute he smelt sulphur and was watching the flames rise in the air over Pompeii, and the next he was sitting as if paralysed in a cavea.
The cavea were the seats surrounding a large arena and he had a sneaking suspicion that he was in the mother of all arenas, the Roman Coliseum itself. How he’d been hurled over one hundred miles in a flash from a half-buried Pompeii to the middle of Rome, he’d never know, but then nothing had ever made sense on this planet.
The fingers of his right hand held a ticket with a seat and section number written on it. He could just barely make out some of the writing if he moved his eyes to the far right. Podium. It was the first tier of the cavea, reserved for the most important Romans—the Emperor, the Vestal Virgins, important priests and members of the Roman Government, including the Roman Senators. Although he couldn’t actually see it, Zero knew that this section consisted of a flat platform that measured about fifteen feet wide with concrete barrel vaulting that held seats of marble. Ordinary people sat on wooden planks when they sat at all but the senators had cushions or even sometimes folding stools called curules.
Zero had no pillow on his seat but then he didn’t expect to have one. His head span from the noise and the debauchery, filling his entire being and preventing all movement. At the same time he was aware of chains surrounding his feet, and an uncomfortable, clammy pressure on his left forearm. As the noise intensified, so did the pressure until it felt like tiny, red-hot needles were burrowing deeper and deeper into his flesh. When he forced his eyes to the far left, his gaze fell on his hand where rivers of thick blood ran down between each finger.
“And now,” a loud, sharp voice startled him, cutting through the fog of noise and making it fade into the background, “the fight of the century,” it screamed, “the battle we have all been waiting for...a fight to the death! People of Rome, I give you...Stride!”
Zero’s eyes widened as a heavy gate slid open, echoing like thunder. Four soldiers dressed in full protective armour dragged Stride out into the arena, threw him face down into the dirt then raced like hell back to the entrance and closed the gate behind them.
Seconds later, the door on the other side of the arena opened. The crowd let out a collective gasp as two huge lions lumbered out into the ring, letting out ferocious roars that caused the crowd to exude an even louder sound of disbelief.
No. No. This can’t be happening. Zero watched as Stride picked himself up out of the sand and shook the grains from his long hair. He was naked except for a pair of high sandals and a very short strip of material wound around his waist. He had no sword and no shield. “This isn’t right. Gladiators had weapons, gear that protected them. If you want to play the game, bitch, get your facts straight!”
Zero didn’t expect to get a reply but he did. The needles in his arm dug deeper and a voice, smooth and female, that might have been created in the depths of hell itself cooed, “Yes, Zero, but you see, Stride is no ordinary gladiator. They were mere mortals.”
“Please? Oh, how sweet. You are in love with my boy. Pity he will never return it.”
“Why are you doing this?” Zero was surprised to hear his own voice suddenly. He turned his head and found that he was able to move it quite easily although the rest of his body stayed frozen. As he twisted towards the voice he heard, he felt real fear, his breath catching in his throat as finally he looked the sorceress directly in the eyes. She was the most beautiful and yet the most horrifying thing he’d ever seen. In the depths of those large green orbs, he saw swirling serpents and death. Her lips, blood red, curved into a smile. Zero’s voice faltered but she heard his words clearly. “Why are you doing this? You love him in your own macabre way. You need him. He is part of your incestuous design. Do you want him to die?”
“Ye of little faith...isn’t that how it goes, Zero?” She sat back, dressed in a long, purple dress cut low over voluptuous breasts, her neck and hands covered in gold. “You love him,” she checked her nails as if the conversation bored her, “and yet you doubt him.”
Zero braved a glance at the arena. The lions were slowly circling their prey. He groaned inwardly. “He cannot survive...a...”
Word Count: 16,329
Book Length: NOVELLA
Genres: ALTERNATE REALITY
A.J. Llewellyn lives in California, but dreams of living in Hawaii. Frequent trips to all the islands, bags of Kona coffee in the fridge and a healthy collection of Hawaiian records keep this writer refueled.
A.J. never lacks inspiration for male/male erotic romances and on the rare occasions this happens, pursues other passions such as collecting books on Hawaiiana, surfing and spending time with friends and animal companions.
A.J. Llewellyn believes that love is a song best sung out loud.
I write not only for my own pleasure, but for the pleasure of my readers. I can't remember a time in my life when I haven't written and told stories. When I'm not writing, I'm dreaming about writing. Eroticism between consenting adults, in all its many forms is the icing on the cake of life but one does not live by sex alone. The story of how two people find love in spite of the odds is what really turns me on.
Reviewed by Fallen Angels Reviews
It was incredible to read about Stride as he began using his powers and somehow wasn't overcome by the evil he let use makes me think that there is more of his father in him than I previously imagined....
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Reviewed by Queer Magazine Online
a real rollercoaster ride...a great chapter. I was totally fascinated and captivated by the emotional depth these two reach and can only hope there will be more of that in the future...If you haven't...
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