There's something very special about Halloween, a time when the veil between this world and the other grows thin. When anything is possible, and it's easy to believe in things that go bump in the night. Our fantasies are fueled by vampires, and werewolves, and ghosts - oh my! And where there are fantasies, that's where you'll find a lot of writers, taking notes and naming names.
Today at work, we're having a Halloween lunch - how cool is that? For my contribution, I made a cheese ball that I like to call Mason Verger. Okay, the actual recipe name is the Flayed Man, but you get the idea (since Mason cut his face off and ate under the influence of Hannibal Lecter). It was actually easier to make than I thought it would be, and I didn't bother to use a mold. I figured I could shape it myself, and I did.
Another important fact about today is that Be My Human was released today from Dreamspinner Press! This is the second book in the Moonlit Skies series by M.A. Church and myself.
For the first day of the blog hop, I promised to finish the flash I started Wednesday, A Crescent Bay Halloween. Well, here's part two. I hope you enjoy it. But before I post it, every good blog hop needs a giveaway, so this will be no exception. I'll be giving away to three commenters, randomly drawn at the end of the hop, a copy of anything from my backlist, including books that are unavailable. How do you win?
Every day, I'll ask a question. All you have to do is answer it. And don't forget your email address. Without that, I can't contact you.
Today's question - could you love a werewolf or a vampire, if you met one in real life - why or why not?
Now here's my second part of my flash, enjoy!
A Crescent Bay Halloween, Part II
Raoul hadn’t celebrated Halloween in years. Twenty years, to be precise. Despite the fact that the holiday brought a plethora of partiers to Charisma from far and wide, hoping for glimpses of the supernatural set that frequented the place, Raoul never set foot there on Halloween night, preferring the solitude of his cabin in the woods. No desire to fuck, to drink, or display himself as the reigning prince of Charisma. On that night, he preferred to remain alone… and brood.
Tonight was different. Tonight he simply wished to be with Alexx, to celebrate this special day with him, for reasons that had nothing to do with any Samhain festivities. It was Alexx’s birthday, and that meant more to Raoul than anything. Therefore, Charisma was the last place he expected to be. And yet, here they were.
“But it’s your birthday, I thought we could do something special. Just you and me…”
And by something special, he meant making love, all night long. Put his vaunted werewolf stamina to the test.
Surely making love hadn’t become stale already? Not that there wasn’t more to their relationship than the physical, but there was nothing wrong with spending an evening in bed, either. Sometimes there were things the heart could only express with the assistance of the body, times when mere words became inadequate to express the desires of the soul.
“We belong at Charisma,” Alexx insisted. “Especially tonight of all nights.”
Raoul had accepted Alexx’s decision with as good a grace as he could muster. “Anything you wish, my love,” he whispered softly in Alexx’s ear. They sat together in their cabin, discussing the night to come. For a moment, Raoul thought he felt Alexx tremble, but the moment passed, and he saw nothing but Alexx’s complacent smile. So be it, he thought. Charisma it is.
It was too late to even think about costumes, not that Raoul really cared. Those days were long dead for him, but if Alexx wanted to, he would have. But Alexx didn’t push the issue, so they’d dressed as themselves. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered but being together.
When they’d walked up to the front door of the nightclub, they found Paolo and Francesco checking IDs, and they received wide-eyed stares from both bouncers. Well, to be fair, they were staring at Raoul, for reasons he knew only too well.
‘B-boss, you’re here,” Paolo stuttered.
“Glad you noticed,” Raoul growled, but there was no bite in his voice, despite his words. “We’re just here to celebrate—”
“Hey guys, happy Halloween,” Alexx interrupted, so smoothly anyone else might have believed it was unintentional and born of enthusiasm for the occasion. But not Raoul. That move was deliberate. As if he didn’t want to be reminded of his birthday. Odd, now that he was legal to get into Charisma, Raoul would have thought Alexx would want to bask in the fact. But no, he seemed to be hiding from it. The question was why?
“C’mon, wolfboy, can’t stand here all night. The party’s inside, isn’t it?” He took Raoul’s hand and tugged him toward the door. Raoul rolled his eyes and shrugged, allowing himself to be led inside Charisma.
Charisma was awash with brilliance, with lights and laughter, high spirits, glitter, and a contagious buoyancy that swept through the club like wildfire. There were a few faux werewolves and vampires—de rigueur for Halloween night—but there were other, more imaginative and creative characters. After all, when one has the real thing in ones midst, a costume is simply a costume and cannot compare.
“Drink first or dance?” Alexx asked, once they were inside the main area. Techno music thrummed around him, and the dance floor was full of energetically writhing bodies.
“Your day, your choice, what would you like—” Something in Alexx’s eyes stopped him cold. Something was wrong. Something was damn wrong, but Raoul had no idea what, just that whatever it was began with Alexx and was creeping its way up his spine with ghostlike precision. He shivered, in spite of himself.
“I… I need to use the men’s room. Be right back.” Alexx’s voice was barely audible, but with Raoul’s supernatural hearing, he caught every nuance. Including a trace of pain. He reached out to take Alexx’s arm, but Alexx was faster, for once, and melted into the crowd around them faster than butter on a hot pancake.
Raoul’s first instinct was to go after him. Follow him into the men’s room, find out what was wrong and make it right. But a hand on his arm stopped him in his tracks. He turned in annoyance to find himself looking into the eyes of a strangely familiar-looking blond. It took a moment for the memory to register.
Miller. In the wig he’d worn as a disguise on the fateful night when Raoul had been kidnapped and Alexx shot by the same insane socialite—Foster Levine.
Miller was one of those guys who couldn’t hide what he thought or felt, his eyes were indeed windows to his soul. And right now, his eyes were full of sympathy and compassion, seemingly directed at Raoul.
Okay, he knew something. That much was apparent to Raoul.
“What are you supposed to be?” Raoul asked. “Surely not the other man?” That had been Miller’s part on that night, when it was imperative they convince Foster that Raoul and Alexx were no longer together. Of course, that was long past and buried.
“What? Oh, the wig.” Miller shrugged. “I didn’t have time to get anything else, and this was sitting in my closet… Hey, you’re not exactly dressed up either.”
“No, I’m not,” Raoul agreed. ‘You and I need to talk.”
“Maybe we should get a drink?” Miller piped up hopefully, but at Raoul’s growl, he seemed resigned. Raoul took Miller’s arm. They threaded their way between the revelers until they reached a relatively quiet spot further from the dance floor.
“Miller, something’s going on and you know what it is.”
“Um… er… Raoul…” Miller began to whine, almost defensively, before he gave up, pressed his lips into a thin line and nodded, a bit reluctantly. His deep sigh carried easily to Raoul’s ear.
“Okay, I’ll tell you what I think’s wrong, but remember, I could be wrong,” Miller warned him.
“What’s wrong? Is something wrong with Alexx?” The hackles on the back of Raoul’s neck began to rise.
“No, no, not like you think. Calm down, please. Let me try to say this so it makes sense,” Miller implored. He glanced at Raoul, then at the floor, then up at the bright disco balls that decorated the room. Raoul curbed his impatience, but it wasn’t easy. Finally, Miller spoke again.
“I think he feels guilty.”
“Guilty?” That was something Raoul hadn’t expected. “Why? About what?”
“About being happy … and alive… especially today…. I mean, it’s his birthday, and other than me, he’s never had anyone who cared enough to celebrate it with him. But now he has you… and he’s also aware that his birthday is the day you lost… you know…”
“Jamie.” Raoul supplied the name.
“Yeah, Jamie. He loves you too much to hurt you by celebrating what’s probably the worst day of your life.”
At one time, yes, it was the event that shattered Raoul’s world, and sent him into a twenty year tailspin. But all that was behind him now. Now he had Alexx, who may or may not be Jamie McKenna reincarnated. But regardless, he was the love of Raoul’s life, the light in his eyes, his new reason for being.
Nothing else mattered.
And now everything made sense. Coming to Charisma. Alexx wanting to make sure Raoul had a good time. Raoul’s heart ached at the pain Alexx must be hiding. Damn, he felt like an insensitive lout for not catching on sooner.
He caught sight of Alexx, emerging from the hallway where the restrooms were located, looking about for him.
“Miller, I hope you won’t be insulted, but you’re on your own tonight. No offense, but I don’t want to be here, and I don’t think Alexx does either.”
“None taken,” Miller assured him. “In fact, I think I might go home myself. Nothing here for me.”
Raoul gave the other man a sharp look, but Miller only laughed. “It’s okay, go on with you. Be with Alexx. Make each other happy.”
Raoul swooped in and gave Miller a quick peck on the cheek, a far cry from the liplock he’d laid on him the last time. “Later,” he told him, then hurried away, easily catching up to Alexx, who seemed relieved to see him.
“There you are, Raoul. Thought I lost you for a minute. Everything okay? I saw you talking to someone…”
“Miller, but he’s leaving. And so are we.” He slid his arm around Alexx’s waist.
“Leaving?” Alexx looked confused. “But we just got here.”
“And now we’re just going.”
“Where are we going?”
“Home. Where we should have stayed to begin with.” He walked Alexx back through the crowd, until they found themselves outside of the night club once more. Alexx didn’t protest, didn’t question, but a slight tremor seemed to run through him, as if he was waiting for the other shoe to drop.
They bid good night to the two confused bouncers, then crossed the parking lot to where Raoul had parked his sports car. He unlocked the car, as he walked Alexx to the passenger side, but stopped beside the door.
“Alexx, do you realize how very much I love and need you?”
“Well, yes, I think I do, but—”
“But nothing. You are, without question, the best thing that ever happened to me, and I thank the powers that be every day that you came into my life. All I wanted tonight was to celebrate your birthday with you, that’s all.”
“I know, Raoul, I know, but how can we… how can I…” A small moan escaped Alexx’s lips, despite his best efforts to contain it. His lower lip quivered. Raoul quickly stilled it with a kiss.
“This is your day. Your very special day. The day that set you on the path to me. Anything else is done, and in the past. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Nothing, Alexx.”
Alexx gave him a sharp look, and then his bright blue eyes flashed with realization. “That was Miller, wasn’t it? Damn, I thought I recognized that wig, even from a distance. He shouldn’t have told you…”
“He should have, since you didn’t.” Raoul gave Alexx a no-nonsense look. “Didn’t we promise no secrets from one another?”
“Don’t well yeah me, we did, so let’s just continue doing that, all right?”
Alexx nodded, as if he didn’t trust his voice.
“You are all that matters to me, Alexx. Not being at Charisma tonight, not Halloween, nothing else but you. Do you know that? Really know that?”
“I do now.” Alexx stretched up, caught Raoul’s lips in his own, and kissed him long and hard. By the time they came up for air, the kiss wasn’t all that was hard.
“Take me home?” Alexx murmured, and Raoul consented with alacrity.
The drive to the cabin was shorter than usual. And Alexx didn’t complain once about Raoul breaking the speed limit.
Raoul parked the Ferrari as close to the cabin as he could, and they raced inside, shedding their clothes on the way to the bedroom.
They fell together, naked, on the bed, mouths joined, and hearts beating as one. There was no further need for talk; a consensus had been reached, a mutual accord. And although there’d been no actual fight between them, who was to say they couldn’t indulge in make-up sex anyway? Lovemaking by any other name…
They kissed and licked and sucked, touched and tweaked, exploring to their hearts’ content, delving into one another like explorers on a strange continent. And once every facet of their mutual terrain had been re-discovered, Alexx lay on his back and drew up his legs, exposing his pink bud to Raoul’s lustful gaze.
“Take me,” he begged. “Make me yours all over again.”
Luckily, lube was just an arm’s reach away. Raoul groped for the tube, popped the top handily and prepped his achingly hard cock.
“You are mine, and no other,” he swore as he slid easily into Alexx’s waiting channel. “You are my everything, Alexx. Never forget that.” He drove inside Alexx with one long thrust, and Alexx received him, gripped him tightly as they came together in the intimacy of their own personal dance. Their lips crashed together, again and again, and when they’d found their mutual release and exhausted one another, they cleaned up and then curled together in their bed, breathing more easily.
“Raoul?” Alexx said softly, twining his fingers in Raoul’s tendrils of dark hair that curled over his shoulder.
“Best birthday ever. Thank you.”
“No, thank you,” Raoul replied.
“For being a part of my life.”
Alexx’s face lit with the most beautiful smile Raoul had ever seen. They gazed deeply into one another’s eyes by the light of the moon, before giving themselves over to sleep, and the realm of the Dream Lord, for another night.
Now go visit the other participants of the Hop!