Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Prince and I - 2

“I have a proposition for you," the man said.

Yeah, I bet you do. I could just guess what it was and I hated the idea but if it kept me out of jail I knew I’d do it.

The man must have seen what I was thinking on my face because he shook his head. “It’s not that sort of proposition. I’m not into boys, or males of any kind, boy. Oh, and while we’re at it what is your name?”


“Arthur.” The man held out his hand.

I looked at it as if it was a snake before tentatively shaking it. “What do you want then?”

“How about I tell you over a couple of burgers and some fries, or whatever you think you’d like to eat.”

“Umm… Well, I suppose…” Just the thought of a real meal made my stomach rumble. I hoped the man didn’t hear it.

“There’s a decent hamburger joint in the next block if that works.”

With a nod I followed Arthur when he started walking. As soon as we were in the small restaurant, and seated, Arthur told me to order anything on the menu. My mouth watered at all the choices, even if they were mostly just fancy hamburgers. Then I looked at the prices and shook my head. “These cost too much. There’s a cheap fast food…”

Arthur held up a hand to silence me, smiling. “I can afford it and I’d rather avoid food poisoning if possible.”

“If you’re sure.” I checked the menu again, choosing the plainest burger and fries, giving my order to the waitress when she appeared.

“Add a thick shake to his,” Arthur said after telling her what he wanted. “Chocolate?” He looked at me.

“Strawberry?” I replied hopefully. I have a thing for strawberry shakes.

Arthur looked at the waitress, she nodded and left. “So tell me a bit about yourself, Richie.”

I chewed his lip. “Not much to tell.”

“You’re nineteen and apparently living rough on the streets. Why?”

“No place to go, I’m didn’t graduate so it’s hard to get a job even if there were any which the way things are these days there aren’t.”

“You didn’t finish high school? Why?”

I shrugged. “Shit happened. My mom died, my dad remarried. His new wife was closer to my age than his.” Rather than look at him I stared down at the table, toying with a spoon. “She started coming on to me so I figured I should get out of there ‘cause I didn’t want to hurt my dad you know.”

“People,” Arthur muttered, making it sound like a swearword. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Prince and I - 1

Okay, so you’ve heard of ‘The King and I’, right? Well I’m for sure no school teacher and the ‘prince’, well he’s no king. In fact he’s not a prince---or maybe he is. Time will tell. Anyway, my name’s Richie Marino and here’s the lowdown on what happened. 

* * * *

I was walking up and down the aisles, fingering the change in my pockets. I figured I had enough for either a couple of frozen bean burritos or a can of tuna, plus a bag of apple slices if they were on sale. Not exactly a balanced diet but better than what I’d find in a dumpster. Of course with luck… I glanced up at the convex mirror in one corner of the small grocery store to see if the owner was watching. He wasn’t, so as quickly and stealthily as possible I picked up a box of instant soup, stuffing it into the inside pocket of my jacket. It was a tight fit but by squeezing it I got it in.

Opting for tuna, I got the cheapest can I could find and some raisins since they were cheaper than the apples. As I passed the grapes in the produce section I snagged a couple of them, popping them in my mouth, chewing and swallowing before I got to the checkout aisle.

The clerk eyed me warily as if afraid I’d make a grab for the cash in the drawer when she opened it. Not that I could blame her. I knew what I looked like in my old jeans with the knees almost worn through and a stained, dark hoodie under the tattered jean jacket. Even my backpack looked like I’d found in a trashcan.

Digging the change out of my pocket once the girl had rung up my purchases I carefully counted out what I owed her, sighing when I realized it left me with forty-three cents to my name. She bagged the items, which I put into the backpack, and then I walked casually out of the store.

Suddenly a hand grabbed my elbow, a male voice saying, “I think you forgot to pay for something.”

“No… no sir,” I stuttered, panic welling up. “I have the receipt right here.”

“Does it list the soup you picked up?”

I tried to pull free as I said in denial, “What fucking soup?”

“This soup,” the man spun me around, pulling back the edge of my jacket to reveal the soup box in the pocket. “And watch your language.”

My shoulders slumped and I lowered my eyes to stare at the man’s well-shod feet. “Are… are you going to call the cops?” I whispered.

“Now that all depends, boy.” When I kept my head down, the man ordered, “Look at me, boy.”

So I lifted my head, taking in the man who had caught me. He was older, probably thirty-five to forty I guessed. Good looking in a businessman way with short, dark well-styled hair and a two-piece suit.

“How old are you, boy?”


“Don’t lie to me.”

“I am, I swear, I just look younger.”

The man nodded. “I’m going to let go of you but do not try to run. Understood?”

“Yes.” The man did as he’d promised and I tensed, ready to take off.

“I said don’t run. I might be older but I’m no slouch when it comes to chasing down thieves.”

“It was only a packet of soup, damn it.”

“And some grapes. I doubt the store’s owner, or the cops, would care how small the items are, it was still shoplifting.”

Sullenly I asked, “So now what.”

Friday, December 27, 2013

Death Becomes Him - 44

Twenty-four hours later Trent and Rory were sitting in the parlor of Phillip and Sienna’s newest home at the corner of Ursulines and Royal in the Quarter. On the exterior the house looked much as it had one hundred years ago, kept up but vacant. Even the ground floor, should one peer through a crack in the shutters, looked empty, the floors covered with a thick layer of dust. After all, who would actually be willing to live in what had once been the vampire Jacques St. Germain’s residence? Phillip and Sienna were. He had bought it, through a human emissary, fifty years ago, soon after a hurricane had once again devastated the city. After refurbishing the second floor, they had moved in.

“This is much nicer than the place above the shop,” Rory said after Phillip had shown him and Trent around and they’d caught up on what had happened since they’d last seen each other.

“I agree,” Phillip replied. “Although I still own that building as well.”

Trent chuckled. “You probably own half the buildings in the Quarter, if the truth were known.”

“Only five,” Sienna told him, grinning. “And with the exception of this one they’re all being used by humans.”

“Even the shop?” Rory asked, sounding somewhat wistful.

Phillip nodded, studying him. “For the moment. Why? Are you perhaps interested in it?”

Rory glanced at Trent then nodded. “We were talking about starting up a tour company again. Of course we haven’t come to any decision yet but from what you said a while ago the ones that are around leave something to be desired.”

“Truthfully, most of them have fallen by the wayside. None of the owners had the flair you did for making a tour exciting. They became rote and anyone with an ounce of sense could have picked up a guide book and wandered around on their own, something the tourists seem to have learned.”

“So,” Rory said, smiling broadly, “if I started it up again I, we, could have a very successful venture on our hands. Again.”

Phillip nodded. “I think so.”

Trent tapped a finger to his lips. “You said the shop was in use ‘at the moment’. Meaning what?”

“The woman who’s renting it has decided to retire when the lease is up.” Phillip smiled knowingly at his two young friends. “That will happen a month from now, so if you’re interested.”

* * * *

Two months later Rory and Trent were living in the apartment above the shop while they ran the most successful ‘Ghost and Vampire’ tour group ever to hit the city of New Orleans.

As Rory put it, “We have now come full circle and survived what happened in the process.”

Laughingly, Trent had agreed. “Although,” he added, “I’m not certain some people would agree with ‘survived’. After all we are dead. But I’m not complaining one little bit.” He hugged Rory tightly. “Better dead than alone.”

“Dead and living it, to misquote a movie title,” Rory replied before kissing him heartily. “I have you in my life, a new home for the foreseeable future, old friends around us. Who could ask for more?”

“Not I. Not now, not ever.”

The End

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Death Becomes Him - 43

One hundred years later:

“Not bad,” Rory said, tracing circles on Trent’s chest. “We’ve done better, but all things considered, not too bad.”

Trent laughed, rolling out of reach. “That tickles and you know it. And I think we did just fine, considering you’re stressed about our plans.”

“It’s not the plans, it’s where we’re going.” Rory pounced, landing on Trent, resting his elbows on either side of his head as he gazed down at him. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been there. Almost a hundred years. Things will have changed.”

“True, but for the better according to Phillip and Sienna. The city has finally revived and gone back to its former glory, now that they’ve figured out how to keep hurricanes from causing the sort of damage Katrina and a couple of the later ones did.”

“We’ll see,” Rory said, not sounding all that certain Trent was right. Still, he had agreed to the visit, albeit reluctantly, so he wasn’t going to back down now. Not when Trent wanted it so badly. “I guess we should get moving then. I still haven’t finished packing.”

Trent chuckled, kissing his nose. “I guess we should. How it can take anyone so long to decide what to take…”

“So I’m fussy. Sue me. I need to let them see we haven’t fallen into decadent decay since we moved here.”

“I doubt that’s possible in two short years.”

Rory sat up, looking around the huge bedroom of their—well castle as far as he was concerned even though Trent insisted it was just a huge manor house built to look like one.

Trent had found out about it from a man he had been working with at a hotel in upstate New York about ten years ago.

Like Emily’s chateau, it was tucked away in the mountains, although in this case said mountains surrounded Blue Cascade Lake, only a hundred miles or so from the hotel where Trent had been working. It had belonged to a very reclusive millionaire who had willed to his son when he died. The son, being much less of a loner, immediately put it on the market where it had stayed until Trent and Rory, after much discussion, and several nocturnal trips to visit it, had decided it would be the perfect place for them to settle down. They bought it, then with the help and guidance of one of Phillip’s compatriots in the area they did what work was required to make it ‘vampire-friendly’ as Rory put it.

They now used it as their home whenever they needed respite from the world of humans.

“It is possible,” Rory replied in response to Trent’s comment as he got out of bed. “I feel decadent when I’m here.”

Trent smiled lovingly at his slightly younger partner. Although, given how long they had been together, five years was hardly a blip on the radar now. “You definitely look decadent with your hair that long.”

Rory grinned. “Well you did tell me to leave it this way after we got done with the Ren Faire circuit.”

“Something I for one never want to go through again. Despite what you said, doing that is nothing like leading the ‘Ghost and Vampire’ tours. Not even one bit. The fools that would come by after dark were just looking to, well make fools of themselves, getting drunk on fake mead and trying to put the make on the pretty women, or handsome men, who had the same objective in mind.” 

Trent shuddered dramatically and Rory chuckled as he started to get dressed, saying as he did, “Maybe we should consider doing the tours again. Phillip says the ones now running in New Orleans, how did he put it, ‘suck big time’?”

Laughing, Trent went to the closet to find something to wear. “He was a bit crasser than that, but yeah.” He paused, looking at Rory. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you? To get back into it?”

Rory nodded. “I was good at it and it is something we can do after dark. I mean if you…”

“I think it could be fun to try it again. We’ll talk about it more when we get down there.”

Monday, December 23, 2013

Death Becomes Him - 42

When Rory arrived home very late one Friday night, he found Trent pacing the living room. From the look on Trent’s face something serious was going on with him.

“Want to talk?” Rory asked after giving him a gentle hug.

“More like it I need to.” Taking a deep breath, Trent said, “I had a long talk with Phillip a couple of weeks ago.” He smiled slightly. “Well he talked, I listened. He had a lot to say about our future together.”

Rory frowned deeply. “Yours and his? What the hell?”

“Good Lord no! Yours and mine. I guess I didn’t make that clear.”

“Not quite,” Rory agreed with a small laugh. “So, want to tell me what he said?”

“In words of one syllable, if I want us, you and me, to be together and happy in the future I have to be turned.”

Rory swallowed hard as he tried to assimilate what Trent was saying. His immediate verbal response was, “Some of those words were two syllables.” His emotional one was to wrap his arms tightly around his lover. “Is that what you want to do?” he finally managed to ask. “Or are you going to tell me that while he’s right, you’re not willing to be turned, for—whatever reasons?”

Trent pulled out of his embrace and then cupped Rory’s face in his hands, gazing at him for a long minute. Then, slowly, he smiled. “Would you be willing to be the one who does it?”

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Death Becomes Him - 41

Trent did think about what Phillip had said. 

Maybe too often he decided when Molly, his assistant manager, finally asked him what was wrong. He told her truthfully that he had a major decision to make, but assured her it had nothing to do with the hotel. “It’s personal, and no I can’t talk about it,” he said with a smile, relieved when she didn’t push it.

Rory however was another matter. Trent knew he could sense something was going on from the worried looks he gave him, although other than dropping a few hints that Trent could talk to him if he needed to he didn’t pressure him. Trent was also quite glad Rory was keeping his promise never to invade his thoughts.

If I do decide to let someone turn me, there’s no going back. I’ll spend the rest of my life moving from one place to another, never really settling down unless I—we because Rory would be part of it—decided to handle things the way Emily has and find our own small place in the world where no one can see what’s happening. Or not happening I guess.

Phillip did say there was a network. That I could always work at what makes me happiest. Still, I’d never be able to see things through to their completion. How long could I stay in one place? Five years? Ten—maybe? But still, it will be the same even if I don’t choose to be turned because Rory will have to move on.

He laughed softly. “And none to soon, I will look as if I was his ‘sugar daddy’. I’m not at all certain that’s the effect I’m going for. And then…” He sighed deeply. And then I’ll die and he’ll be left alone. Would I want that if our positions were reversed? Ours may not be the romance for the ages, but we do love each other very much. After all this time, and with what we’ve gone through, if we didn’t we wouldn’t still be together. So perhaps…

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Death Become Him - 40

“Go away,” Trent groaned when the sound of the doorbell pulled him out of a deep sleep. His body clock was now so attuned to his regime that even though it was just midnight he had been dead to the world for hours. He tried to ignore the bell, but it kept ringing. Finally, ready to tear someone a new ass, he got up, pulled on a pair of jeans and went down to answer it.

He flung open the door and froze when he saw Phillip standing there. “Something’s happened to Rory,” Trent said, his voice filled with panic.

“No, not at all,” Phillip instantly assured him. “He’s out on the midnight tour so I thought I’d take advantage of that to come have a talk with you.”

“About what?” Trent asked ungraciously, crossing his arms as he stared at Phillip. Now that he knew Rory was all right he wanted to go back upstairs and sleep again until he returned home.

“About you,” Phillip replied. “And it would be easier if you’d let me come in, rather than doing it here,” he added pointedly.

With a nod, Trent stepped aside.

When they were seated in the living room, Phillip asked, “How long has it been since Rory’s turning?”

“Over five years now, which I’m quite certain you know.”

“I do. I just asked as a way to reinforce it, as it has to do with what I want to talk about. If I’m correct, you’re thirty-five now, or close to it. Rory on the other hand will always remain thirty.”

Trent nodded. “I’m well aware of that.”

“The same will hold true when you’re forty and fifty and…”

“You’re pointing out something I already know. I see it every time I look in the mirror. I’m showing my age, he isn’t. We both know that in time we’re going to have to move somewhere else before people begin noticing he isn’t aging. It’s a way of life with vampires.”

“Exactly,” Phillip agreed. “But that’s not why I’m—why we’re talking about this. When the two of you move on, are you willing to tell people he’s your young, with the emphasis on ‘young’, lover. Or your boy-toy? Or whatever other excuse you can come up with for why an old man is keeping company with a much younger one?”

“Are you saying I should get out of his life before that happens?” Trent spat out angrily. “If so, it’s not an option. Or at least not until he asks me to, and he won’t.” He sighed, “I don’t think.”

“As much as he loves you, no he won’t. However”—Phillip paused, obviously waiting until he had Trent’s full attention—“there is something you can do to alleviate the problem. Something you may even have considered, at least subconsciously.”

Trent nodded, staring down at his hands clenched tightly in his lap. “Become one of you,” he replied tightly.

“You make it sound as if it were a death sentence.”

“Isn’t it, both literally and figuratively? Never being able to see your family again? Losing any friends you’ve made? What about work? I’d be hard pressed to find another job doing what I do best unless I changed my name and started over again, without, I might point out having any resume or recommendations from past employers.”

Phillip chuckled, earning a glare from Trent. “To begin at the end, we’re a large network. If you want to run a hotel we can arrange it with no problem. As for losing friends, you’ll make new ones. We always do. I understand about family but be truthful, Trent, how many times have you visited them since Rory came back into your life?”

“Well—never. I call them, we email, but in the last five years I’ve managed to use work and distance as a reason for not going home for any of the holidays. They accept that, reluctantly. But they do.”

“Exactly. To some extent you’re already doing what you would have to if you became one of us. Cutting ties with family always hurts but, and this may sound harsh, family is transitory. Soon enough in the grand scheme of things they’ll be dead and gone. The same holds for you at this point. A hundred years from now, when you’re long in your grave, Rory will look back at his life with you with fond memories, knowing he loved you and was loved in return. He’ll be sad, for a while, but…” Phillip spread his hands.

“In time he’ll move on to someone new.” Trent did not like that idea at all.

“He will. We all need love. Some of us are lucky and find eternal love with another of our kind, or at least someone close to it in my case.” Phillip snorted softly. “Thankfully the whole mated-for-life thing you read about in romance novels is not real. If it doesn’t work out, you can try again.” He looked thoughtfully at Trent. “In your case, if you decided to be turned, I think you’d have nothing to fear in that respect. You have accepted Rory for what he is, and he has stayed with you despite what you are.”

Trent managed to chuckle at that. “Meaning one of the lesser beings.”

“Humans aren’t ‘lesser’. After all, we were all human at one point in time.”


“Will you at least think about it, for both your sakes?”

“Of course.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Death Becomes Him - 39

As the days again passed into weeks, Trent and Rory established a pattern so they could spend as much time together as possible. Rory made it a point to take one night off during the week, no matter what, to stay home with his lover. Trent on the other hand learned the stories of the New Orleans ghosts and vampires so well, while tagging along with Rory on weekend tours, that when he volunteered to become one of the substitute guides on Saturdays if they needed him, Rory readily agreed. The only stipulation being, he would be accompanied by two of the other guides rather than being paired off with just one.

That was the one thing Rory had always insisted on; even back when he’d owned his first tour company, no one did it alone. As he explained more than once, “You never know what sort of freaks might be among the tourists or out there planning on preying on them or on our female guides.”

The first time he’d said that to the assembled vampires and werewolves who worked for him, the reaction had been mixed to say the least.

“You think one of us is going to go off the deep end and attack someone,” Alan said, hissing angrily.

“Not at all,” Rory had replied firmly. “If I did, you wouldn’t be working for me.”

“Don’t you think we could protect the humans if some bastard tried to pull something,” one of the werewolves asked in disbelief.

“You could but in the process, if there was just one of you there, you might reveal that we, vampires and werewolves, exist. It’s fine to make the tourists think it’s possible. It fulfills their romantic fantasies. But the reality, and you know it, is we’d be hunted like animals if that occurred. So if there is any trouble, one of you can continue on with the tour while the other handles the problem quietly. That’s especially true when it comes to the two human guides. They’re Sienna’s friends, but they have no clue what she or the rest of us are. I’d prefer to keep it that way.”

There was more discussion along the same lines but in the end everyone agreed that working in pairs was for the best.

“So who are you putting me with?” Trent asked the first time he was set to take out a group of tourists.

“Celeste and Dominique.”

“Oh really? Why them?”

Rory smirked. “I figure that way you can concentrate on the tour, not on your partners.”

“As if I would,” Trent retorted while he finished dressing.

Rory came up behind him, putting his hands on Trent’s shoulders to turn him toward the mirror. “Look at yourself. You’re so damned sexy I’m drooling.”

Trent snorted. “Vampires don’t drool.”

“This one does, when he’s around you.” He nibbled the back of Trent’s neck, causing an immediate reaction that made Trent wish he hadn’t listened when Rory told him tight leather pants like the ones Rory wore would be perfect for him.

“Stop that,” Trent muttered.

“And if I don’t?”

“Celeste and Dominique will be taking the tour out without me,” Trent replied, turning to look at Rory. “And since you wouldn’t be around either… Well you can imagine what everyone will be thinking.”

Rory grinned. “They’d be right, too. But…”—he sighed, stepping away—“tonight, being a Saturday, is not a good one for both of us to be among the missing.”

“Unfortunately, you’re right. No rest for the wicked as the saying goes. And you, my dear man, are very, very wicked. So move it or we’ll be late.”

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Death Becomes Him - 38

Rory nodded slowly. “That would be nice. But right now I have to go. Dolph should be here any second now.”

 “Dolph?” Trent stepped away, trying not to glare. “Why is he coming here?”

“He’s been picking me up and taking me in, so I don’t have to waste time waiting until it’s dark enough for me to catch the trolley.”

“How convenient,” Trent said sourly. He scowled when the doorbell rang and Rory hurried to answer. “And here he is, Johnny-on-the-spot.” His scowl deepened when he finally saw Dolph for the first time. The werewolf was one of the handsomest men he had ever seen, tall, muscular, with dark brown hair and deep-set brown eyes. The outfit he was wearing accented all of that, something Trent wouldn’t have thought possible considering it was the height of Victorian fashion, quite unlike the tight leather pants and full-sleeved poet’s shirt Rory had on at the moment.

“You must be Trent,” Dolph said, holding out his hand.

“I am,” Trent agreed, ignoring his gesture while moving to join him and Rory, putting his arm around Rory’s waist.

Dolph seemed nonplussed for a moment. Then he chuckled. “Staking your territory, Trent?”

Trent tilted his head slightly, acknowledging his words.

“You don’t have to. I’m more than well aware the two of you are a couple. Rory made that patently clear the first time I”—he grinned broadly—“tried to come on to him.”

“Oh my God,” Rory said, looking at Trent in disbelief. “Did you think…? Is that why you’re…?”

“Well,” Trent replied, beginning to feel a bit foolish, “you go on and on about him, and then here he is and you said he’s been picking you up, and we barely have any time together now and, well…”

“Get that idea out of your head this instant! I love you. Always have, always will. How many times do I have to say it before you believe me? Yeah, we’re both so busy we hardly have time to say ‘hello’ in passing these days but still… Damn it Trent.” Putting his arms around Trent’s neck, Rory kissed him passionately.

“Umm, guys,” Dolph said a moment or two later, “this is all very cute and all, but we do have to get moving.” Trent glanced at Dolph over Rory’s shoulder, then flicked his fingers at him. Dolph laughed. “So you’ll bring him in, and soon?”

Trent broke the kiss long enough to say, “Maybe, maybe not.”

“No, I’ll go with you, Dolph,” Rory said, contradicting Trent then whispering to him, “We’ll finish what we’ve started when I get home tonight. So let him drive me while you go get some sleep. You’re going to need to be wide awake later.”

Trent hissed in a breath of anticipation and frustration. “I don’t think…”

Rory grinned. “If I can wait, so can you.” He gave him another deep kiss. “So deal.”

“I will. Reluctantly. I’d much rather…”

“I don’t need to hear the details,” Dolph broke in, chuckling.

“Then get him out of here before I take him upstairs and ravage him.”

“Now that idea will have me switching shifts with Phillip tonight,” Rory said huskily. “Come on, Dolph, let’s get moving. I have one hot, sexy man I intend to come home to as soon as possible.”

Trent smacked Rory’s ass. “Hot, definitely, in the ‘I need you now’ sense of it. Sexy, not so much so.”

“Very, very sexy,” Rory retorted. “So live with it.” With those parting words, he and Dolph left.

“And an idiot for not trusting you,” Trent murmured as he closed the door. “But never again. And I’m not sexy.”

“Yeah, you are.” Rory’s words echoed in Trent’s head, followed by a laugh. “So there.”

Friday, December 13, 2013

Death Becomes Him - 37 (And a cover reveal)

Life went on as well as could be expected for Trent for the next month. Work during the day, staying home with Beau most evenings while Rory was running his company and leading some of the midnight tours. There were brief interludes of their being able to spend some quality time together. Too few, too brief interludes in Trent’s opinion.

The tours became so popular Rory expanded them to four a night to accommodate all the tourists. At Sienna’s suggestion, he hired two of her werewolf friends, one as the accountant to do the books for the growing business, the second to handle the sale of tickets during the daylight hours.

The latter, Dolph, had a definite flamboyant flair, outdoing even the guides according to Rory. Dressed in full Victorian attire including a flowing cape and top hat, he strolled the Quarter, proclaiming to one and all that if they wanted to meet ‘the real thing’ they should purchase tickets immediately for an evening tour.

“He’s really quite amazing,” Rory told Trent soon after he’d hired Dolph.

Trent had smiled indulgently at Rory’s enthusiasm. He became a bit less indulgent when Rory continued to talk about the werewolf during the ensuing days as if he was someone very special and unique.

Finally, Trent decided it was time to meet Dolph in person. The only reason he hadn’t taken the time to so far was because managing the hotel took more and more of his time, even on the weekends. When he had told Rory and Sienna early on that he would be able to help them out during the day if necessary, he hadn’t taken into account how busy he’d be now that the hotel had doubled in size. So much so that he’d finally had a long talk with the hotel’s owners. He convinced them it would be in their best interests to hire an assistant-manager. He, or she, could work evenings and the weekends. When he told them he was beginning to burn out, they readily agreed, apologizing for not having done so sooner.

Two days later he was introducing his new assistant, Molly Burns, to the hotel employees. He spent the rest of that Thursday explaining to her how he ran the hotel. As she had been brought in from one of the owners’ other hotels she caught on quickly, much to his relief.

Late Friday afternoon, he was feeling confident Molly that could handle things on her own. So he headed home, arriving there just as Rory was about to leave.

When Trent walked into the house, Rory looked at him in surprise. “What are you doing here?”

“I live here?” Trent replied with a tight smile, sensing Rory was less than happy to see him.

“I know that. It’s just—well you’re never home this early.”

“And that’s going to change. I miss you. We barely spend time together any more. I told you… No, I guess I haven’t had a chance to have I? Anyway, I have an assistant now so I won’t have to be at the hotel or on call twenty-four/seven.” Trent closed the distance between them, wrapping his arms around Rory’s waist. “I can take you to work, help out some there the way I promised, and when you get home I won’t be so damned tired I just roll over and go back to sleep again. Also, I won’t be working weekends at all. Things can be like they were before.” 

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The cover, by the amazing Reese Dante, for 'The Exile and the Detective', coming January 11th from Silver Publishing.

Exiled from his homeland, Doran Taggart now runs a bookstore in his new home town. His only companion is his cat, Inwe. His only duties, despite his exile, are to protect the allies of his king and kill the king's enemies, should they appear where he now lives.

Detective Nick Groves is searching for leads in the disappearance of two men and a woman. In the process, he meets Doran and is instantly captivated by the violet-eyed young man. Soon afterward, things take a strange turn with his case. Is Doran, the cause, and if not, does he know why strange things are happening?

Nick must find answers to all this and more while dealing with his growing feelings for Doran—feelings that are reciprocated, even though Doran knows nothing can come of them. The men are, after all, from two different worlds. If Nick learns the truth about him, Doran is certain it will the end of any chance for the two of them to be together.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Death Becomes Him - 36

It took a week to pull everything together.  Flyers were printed, Phillip came through and brought six vampire acquaintances to the shop one evening. Sienna added two friends of hers, a pair of human women who were more than willing to work nights so they’d have their days free to spend with their children. After explaining exactly what was needed, and giving his new employees a crash course on what each of the three nightly tours would encompass, Rory handed everyone a folder containing stories about the local haunted buildings and where various vampires from the past were thought to have lived. He smiled to himself when a couple of the vampires scanned the information with more than a bit of disbelief. One of them, Alaine, or Alan as he was now known, took him aside after the briefing.

“This,” Alan tapped one of the pages in his folder, “is an unmitigated crock. There are no coffins that contain vampires in the attic of the convent.”  He smiled wickedly. “I should know. I was the last vampire to vacate the premises and that was in the late seventeen hundreds.”

Rory turned to look at Trent who had come up behind him to eavesdrop. “There goes another myth down the tubes. Still,” he returned his attention to Alan, “it makes a great story for the tourists, one of many, so try not to be too patronizing when you tell it.”

Alan laughed. “Far from it. I can make it seem more true than you can begin to imagine. Although,” he smiled, “I’ll try not to scare them away from the rest of the tour.”

“That would be nice of you,” Rory muttered, though he did smile too.

Sienna clapped her hands to get everyone’s attention before asking, “Is there anything else we need to know, Rory?”

“Not that I can think of. Timothy, Dahlia and Jackson, be here at six-thirty Friday evening, and remember—the tours supposed to be scary, but fun. We want people talking about us as the tour company to come to, not running in fear.”

Everyone laughed and cheered, and then left, either on foot or by just vanishing, something no one walking by would see as the shop windows were covered by dark curtains behind the displays and posters about the tours.

“You look happier than I’ve seen you in a long time,” Trent said as he and Rory were driving home.

“I am. I’ve got you, and new friends. Plus the start of a new tour company that I hope will become the most popular one in the city.”

“That’s important to you, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. I know it’s not much in the grand scheme of things but at least it’s something I can do and do well.”

Reaching over to squeeze Rory’s thigh, Trent told him, “I suspect you’d do well at anything you put your mind to. It’s who you are. If a project means something to you, you go all out.”

Rory grinned. “If you didn’t have to be at work in a few hours I’d prove to you that’s true.”

“Well”—Trent grinned back quite wickedly—“I have been know to do my job on just a couple of hours of sleep, if staying up late the night before was worth it.”

“Believe me, love, I will definitely make it worth it.”

Trent stepped on the accelerator and they made it home in record time.