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Shameless Selfie: Landscapes

 

 

 

It’s Shameless Selfie time, and because I’m very busy with the final rewrite of Blind-Sided, in which both Reese Chambers and Alonso Darlington from In The Flesh and before that, Landscapes, are very much main players in that tale, I decided to share a little snippet from Landscapes, which is the story of how Alonso and Reese met. And since their tale is a tale of Lakeland at it’s loveliest and High View, Alonso’s home, is set in the Lakeland fells, this little selfie from the Lake District seemed appropriate. Enjoy their little garden encounter.

 

Sometimes love is the most dangerous choice

 

Landscapes Blurb:

(A Medusa’s Consortium story)

Alonso Darlington has a disturbing method of keeping landscaper, Reese Chambers, both safe from and oblivious to his dangerous lust for the man. But Reese isn’t easy to keep secrets from, and Alonso wants way more than to admire the man from afar. Can he risk a real relationship without risking Reese’s life?

Note: Landscapes has been previously released as part of the Brit Boys: On Boys boxed set.

 

 

Landscapes — Encounter in an Overgrown Garden — Landscapes:

Before dinner Reese decided to take another wander through the ruins of the gardens he’d be restoring. He anticipated working long hours, or at least as long as he could manage with the days closing in. Tomorrow was the first of October, a strange time to begin such a restoration, but that was why Alonso Darlington was paying him so well. It was unusually warm for October, but Reese knew, especially in the Lake District, the weather could turn in a matter of minutes, and High View was definitely just that. If the weather were bad down below, it would be worse up here. He could understand exactly why Darlington wanted to restore the manor house, but God the man must have bags of money because it was costing a bomb just to have the gardens done. He could only imagine the cost of restoring a manor house that was barely more than a ruin. Talia had informed him the wiring and plumbing to make it livable for Darlington and his small staff had been sorted, and it was warm and comfortable in spite of the way it looked. It was fit for winter, but the actual restorations wouldn’t begin until spring. Yet Darlington was adamant about the garden. It was to be a night garden – something Reese had never done before, something that would be even more of a challenge since many of the plants common in night gardens were not native to the harsh climate of the fells. Talia had explained that Alonso Darlington had a medical condition that made him extremely sensitive to sunlight, but the man loved to be outside and especially to wander his gardens. Reese got the impression the man had lots of gardens on lots of estates. At the moment all that mattered to him was scraping by enough to keep a roof over his head until he could get established in Keswick, and the money he would get working for Darlington would go a long way toward that goal.

As he walked through the overgrown tangle of a space that had little left but a tumble of dry stone wall to indicate it had ever been a garden, he noticed the natural terracing of the land, the lovely view, which, at night would have very little light pollution. He could imagine Alonso Darlington, bundled against the Cumbrian chill, watching the moon hanging weightlessly above the beck. He’d not actually met the man. He wondered if he were fit enough to make the descent from the house to the garden and back. It was steep, and if he had a medical condition, not at all ideal. It seemed a strange place for an invalid to settle. Reese bent to pull a handful of weeds away from some piece of stone statuary to discover that it was a sleeping griffin.

As was often the case, he found himself pulled into his efforts. In no time, he had cleared the thick tangle of growth enough to reveal a low stone bench next to the griffin. The day was unusually calm. The angle of the late afternoon sun bore down on him until trickles of sweat ran over his ribs from beneath his arms. He shoved out of his shirt and let it fall onto the bench, and his pulse kicked up with inspiration as he contemplated the stone bench flanked by the sleeping griffin and the lazy arch of the sun across the sky. His heart kicked up another notch as the pale face of a heavy moon rose like a giant balloon over the opposite end of the valley and hung as though it were balanced by the blazing disk opposite it. The terrace, stones now buried beneath several centuries of earth and growth, had been flat, a small space gouged out of the high flank of the fell by forces much older, but if he wasn’t mistaken, the fell-side garden and the angle of the valley far below provided something far greater than a place for Mr. Darlington to sniff night-blooming jasmine. It provided a place to observe the passage of the sun and moon and the movement of the constellations along the ecliptic in the dark dome of the sky as the seasons came and went.

He paced off the space, and cleared a small patch at each corner for a visual, all the while scribbling notes and simple line drawings on the small pad he’d brought for the purpose. He worked quickly as ideas formed in his head, barely noticing the darkening of the sky to shades of mauve and melon and then to the clear blue black of approaching night. It was only when he could see to sketch no longer, that he tossed the pad on the bench and looked up to see Venus on the horizon. The fells hunkered like sleeping giants above the moon glow on the silver thread of the beck below. The shapes of sky and earth rested against each other like lovers in an embrace, and he stood there in the middle, his eyes focused on Venus, feeling as though it all revolved around him, as though he held it all in balance. As a child, he had stood and watched the earth rotate. His father had taught him to mark that rotation by use the single standing stone that dominated the meadow behind their house. If he waited patiently, he could see the earth slide past the arc of the rising sun. Breathlessly, he stood, frozen, watching long enough that Venus appeared to move above the serpentine path of the beck.

‘Dinner’s getting cold, Mr. Chambers.’

Before Reese could do more than jump and swallow back a curse, a man materialized out of the shadow of the fell in a sudden wave of spice and sandalwood.

‘Though I can hardly blame you lingering for such a view.’ The voice was a velvety baritone that Reese could almost feel in his own chest. ‘Thanks to the diligent work of the electricians, the microwave runs just fine, and though cook is excellent at what he does, some things are worth waiting dinner on. Venus?’ He nodded to the sky.

‘Yes,’ Reese replied, trying to catch glimpses of his host in his peripheral vision. ‘And you’re Mr. Darlington, I presume?’

‘Alonso, please. I think working with our hands in the earth, as we will be, is good reason to dispense with formalities.’ He offered his hand.

‘Reese.’ The instant skin touched skin it was as though lightning bolted through him. He stumbled backward, swallowing a startled cry as images flashed behind his eyes, Alonso’s mouth on his neck, on his belly, Alonso’s tongue snaking a path over his arse, Alonso kneeling over him, cock in hand. And him yielding. It was only Alonso Darlington pulling him close that kept him from falling. When he came back to himself, he was settled him onto the bench and it was a good thing. The erection that threatened to unload in his jeans would have made walking difficult.

‘I’m sorry,’ he managed, when the fell stopped spinning beneath him. ‘Not sure what happened. Too much staring at the moon maybe.’ He could feel Alonso’s gaze, almost like a caress, and he felt shy, as though somehow the man knew that he had nearly come in his jeans. Fuck if his touch hadn’t felt almost like … foreplay.

‘Perhaps you’re hungrier than you think, and though it’s nearly October, it’s still quite warm for exerting oneself in the sun.’

Reese forced an embarrassed smile. ‘I’m used to working in the hot sun.’

‘Then you’re a lucky man,’ Alonso stood and handed him his shirt from where he had dropped it on the end of the bench. ‘Come, you’re chilled. See there, you’ve broken out in goose bumps. Put on your shirt and I’ll take you back to the house and feed you.’

Somehow the idea of letting the man feed him made him blush.

‘I’m sweaty. I’ve been pulling weeds. I need a shower.’

‘Nonsense,’ once again he could feel the man’s eyes raking his body like the touch of a palm. ‘We’re not formal in this heap. We just barely have electricity. You’re welcome as you are, and my home will be the happier for the spirit of the outdoors you bring.’

Reese chuckled. ‘I just hope that spirit is not too strong for pleasant company.’

Again, there was the feel of being caressed. ‘I assure you, Reese, your spirit is just the thing for pleasant company.’ Then he turned and headed up to the house.

Alonso’s pace was vigorous and, even in full darkness, it was not hard to tell he was slender and fit, but Reese knew that as surely as if he had seen the man naked, as surely as if he had explored the rise and fall and slope and valley of those firm muscles with his own hands. He couldn’t know. He couldn’t! Christ, he needed to think of something other than Alonso Darlington’s naked body before he thoroughly embarrassed himself.

Reese was surprised to find that several rooms of the big house were cozy and well decorated. Alonso offered a shrug as he looked around. ‘A man has to have a little space that’s livable. The wash room is down the hall.’

When Reese returned from his hasty ablutions, he found Darlington speaking quietly with Talia, who wore a silky red dress and heels that made her almost tall enough to look Alonso in the eyes. Talia pressed a kiss to Alonso’s cheek, and Reese’ belly burned as the man’s hand slid over her shoulder to rest in the small of her back. With the burn came the startling realization; it wasn’t that he wanted his hand on Talia, but rather he wanted Alonso’s hand on him. Christ, he really had had too much sun.

‘You two have a good evening.’ Talia said. Then she planted a kiss on Reese’ cheek, and his skin prickled with the feel of Alonso’s lips, with the feel of Alonso’s hand coming to rest on his hip. ‘I’m off to meet friends in Penrith,’she was saying, when he could get his mind off the idea of Alonso’s mouth on his. ‘I’ll see you in the morning.’

‘Talia’s one of my oldest and dearest friends,’ Alonso said, as they watched her leave. ‘She’s my eyes in the daylight and often the source of wisdom I lack.’ Was it possible that he sensed Reese’ jealousy, even before he had?

 

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“Landscapes is, quite simply, one of the best pieces of paranormal erotica I’ve read in a very long time. Ms. Grace’s eloquent, sensual prose weaves a spell that pulls you into the shadowy world of vampire Alonso Darlington and turns his desperate, reluctant, indirect pursuit of landscaper Reese Chambers into a pulse-pounding, breath-stealing fever dream.” Lisabet Sarai

 

 

Shameless Selfie Sunday from Lyme Regis

lyme-2015landscapes-oct1img_3470

 

Hi my Lovelies! I’m away from the blog and away from my usual haunts for my annual writing retreat in Lyme Regis. Every year I look forward to this one precious week in early autumn passionately, always wishing there was a way to make it longer. For this one week, I totally clear my decks of all PR, all ironing, all correspondence, all social media commitments, all everything that doesn’t involve writing, and by writing, I mean working on a novel! OMG! I’m all a quiver!

This year I’ll be working on the sequel to In The Flesh Blind-Sided — and what a romp it will be! SOOO … in honour of an entirely fabulous week of writing dark, sexy paranormal cool stuff, this Shameless Selfie will be a little bit different. For those of you who have purchased your copy of In the Flesh, you’ll know that at the end you’ll find the teasingly tense first chapter of Blind-Sided. And no! I’m not going to give you a spoiler, BUT what I will do is give you a sexy little snippet from Landscapes because Alonso Darlington and his friends are figuring majorly, not only in In The Flesh but also in Blind-Sided, so here’s a tasty teaser of a shameless selfie for you. Oh, and yes, the selfie is from Lyme Regis. But this one is from last year, and as you can see from the background, it’s all about inspiration. Hold on to your hats and let Alonso take you away. I promise I’ll be spending a lot more time with him and Reese this week. Colour me excited!

 

Landscapes Blurb:

Alonso Darlington has a disturbing method of keeping landscaper, Reese Chambers, both safe from and oblivious to his dangerous lust for the man. But Reese isn’t easy to keep secrets from, and Alonso wants way more than to admire the man from afar. Can he risk a real relationship without risking Reese’ life?

 

landscapes-cover-12654238_1515192535449022_5292046566866535088_nLandscapes Excerpt: Sex Vicariously:

 

It was nearing dawn when Talia returned to our accommodations smelling of sex, as I knew she would if she were to obtain for me what I wanted. By then my blood burned in my veins, and my body felt too close to me, as though the flesh that I dwelt in suddenly conspired to crush me with its demands. And though I knew that Reese Chambers could not have refused her even if she had come to him as a toothless, foul-smelling hag, I hated her that he had poured himself into her body while I had been left with only my fantasies kindling my lust to an inferno.

Though my need was such that my flesh was fevered and my cock an insistent throb, until she returned, I held myself contained within skin that felt too thin. When she saw the state that I was in, she pulled the heavy drapes with an efficient tug, then with a nod of her head, motioned me to follow her down into the basement room that had been prepared for me. When she turned to me at the foot of the bed, before she could opened her kiss-bruised lips to speak, I took her mouth, starving for the first taste of him, the taste of his saliva, the taste of his blood, mixed with hers. She’d bitten him; he’d bitten her back. He was rough, and he liked to be treated rough, but he kept that to himself. He was embarrassed by it. His lips were slightly chapped from so much time in the sun and wind, and they’d slid against hers, suckling and stroking and pressing until her mouth opened to his. With ravenous laps of my tongue, I tasted him in her mouth, and she held back the moan of response, so I could hear the echoes of his groans, heavy with need he’d not satisfied in awhile, and I felt kinship in my own unsatisfied needs. Images of him flashed through my head. Christ, his eyes were green, dark green like the evergreen forests of the north, and he kept them open when he kissed her, taking her in with his eyes.

I shoved aside the silk of her low bodice exposing her breasts, breasts that his hands had cupped. My nipples peeked to sharp aching points at the feel of his calloused thumbs raking, pressing and releasing. I breathed in his scent on her breasts, burying my face in her cleavage, licking the taste of salty, slightly picante maleness, sniffing and tasting until I could stand it no more. In one violent jerk, I tore the dress all the way down and shoved it off her shoulders, away from the flesh he had licked and kissed and mounted. I cried out at the feel of him, weight on one elbow, knee spreading her thighs, fingers opening her heaviness, anxious to penetrate, anxious to relieve his need. And then, with Talia free of clothing, Reese Chambers’ essence filled the room. Talia’s panties were still wet with his semen mixed with her humid desire, and I tore them from her and forced her onto her stomach, onto her hands and knees, so that it was not her face I saw, but his that I imagined. With hands on her hips, I raised her bottom in the air and spread her still swollen, still slippery folds with fingers made awkward by my arousal, letting the scent of his hot bread and honey release intoxicate me. Then I buried my face in her snatch and, as I ate his lust from her, I knew him.

He was Cumbrian born and bred, and his accent was the soft lilting sound of the fells. He was a landscaper and a gardener by trade. His hands held the magic of the earth and his mind conceived ideas for beautiful outdoor spaces; those he liked best were patterned after Renaissance and medieval gardens. He was homesick and heartsick. He’d gone to Surrey to work with his father because the money was good. But his father had died recently and he had returned home to Cumbria. He didn’t care if he had to work in a pub or muck stables. He wanted to be home. He missed the people and he missed the fells. He missed the simpler, more honest rhythms of life. He was shy, even a bit reclusive. He read voraciously and widely, he liked astronomy and he was afraid of snakes, though it embarrassed him to admit it. He hadn’t had sex in a long time, and found it better to have a wank session than a meaningless encounter. The facts of him, the details of his life raced at me in a flood I consumed ravenously with each lap of my tongue.

As I ate Talia I felt the shape of his face, the curve of his chin, the rise and fall of his chest as he had done the same. I felt the soft tuft of bronze curls nestled between the hard rise of his pecs and the courser, deeper curls that caressed his testicles and his cock when it was at rest, but it hadn’t been at rest. How many times had he taken her? He was thick enough to fill her and the friction of him inside was delicious and maddening. The shape of him – I wanted to caress the shape of him, with my hands, with my mouth, and the taking of his essence from Talia was an act of ripping away something that should have been mine. As I bruised her arse with kneading fingers and, as I licked the last of his release from her, she managed a breathless moan. ‘Take the rest. God, Alnso, take the rest, and release me.’

 

itf_teaser01

 

You can buy my new release, In The Flesh by following the link. 

You can also buy the prequel novella, Landscapes.

Both are on my Books Page. 

 

 

LANDSCAPES Launch Day: Brimming with Firsts

Landscapes cover 12654238_1515192535449022_5292046566866535088_nI’m so excited! It’s launch day for my MM novella, Landscapes! If you’ve been keeping up with recent posts then you know that Alonso Darlington is none too happy about me re-launching the story of his private life. He figures it’s none of my business and, as a vampire, he likes to keep a very low profile. I figure if he hasn’t ripped my throat out yet, I just might be good to go and, honestly, I just couldn’t resist sharing his story. For those of you who have read my online serial, In The Flesh, you know that Alonso’s life is already seriously complicated. He’s a reluctantly willing member of Magda Gardener’s Consortium, and a relationship with a mortal on top of that dubious membership is one more complication he doesn’t need. BUT the heart wants what the heart wants no matter the price.

 

Most of you also know that Alonso and Reese’s story first appeared in the wonderful MM collection, Brit Boys on Boys. Not only was Landscapes my first foray into writing MM erotic romance, but it was my first ever vampire story, and definitely one of the most fun novellas I’ve ever written. Alonso would not be pleased at me saying that, but it’s true.

 

Landscapes is a novella of firsts in so many ways for me. I’m very excited to be re-launching it today as my very first foray into self-publishing. It’s also my chance to give you all another sneak peek at the dark and delicious world of The Medusa Consortium Series, of which In The Flesh is the first full-length novel, but only the beginning of Magda Gardener’s story and the story of the fabulous mismatched misfit members of her Collection. I hope you enjoy the excerpt from Landscapes. If you do, be sure to pick yourself up a copy for your reading chills and thrills.

 

 

Landscapes Blurb:

 

Vampire, Alonso Darlington has a disturbing method of keeping landscaper, Reese Chambers, both safe from and oblivious to his dangerous lust for the man. But Reese isn’t easy to keep secrets from, and Alonso wants way more than to admire the man from afar. Can he risk a real relationship without risking Reese’s life? And if Reese finds out the truth, will there be any relationship left to risk?

 

Landscapes Excerpt:

 

It wasn’t that Reese Chambers made my cock hard – though he did. It wasn’t that he was beautiful in a rugged, leather and stone sort of way – though he was. It was that Reese Chambers moved me in ways I had not been moved in a very long time, in ways that I, who never lacked just the right words to express myself, found my vocabulary inadequate to the task. Talia would call it an obsession, and maybe it was; from my first sight of him mantling his sketchpad like a bird of prey over a fresh kill, alone in the midst of the crowded pub, I could think of nothing else. It was my first night back on British soil. It is said that you can never go back home, and it had been a very long time for me. But the need to come home was in my blood like fever these past years, as were so many needs that never left me, but only sharpened with the passing of time.

Next to me, Talia droned on about suitable residences in Cumbria, about the leasing of a car and the making of necessary renovations. The Twa Dogs was busy for a Monday night with tourist season past, but being invisible was sometimes easier in a crowd.

***

‘Find out who he is.’ I nodded in Reese’s direction. Before Talia could protest, I continued. ‘I have a roof over my head, and I’ve fed. There’s nothing that can’t wait until tomorrow.’

Talia’s cheekbones flushed with the rush of blood, and heaven knew how beautiful she was in such a state, porcelain pale skin, midnight blue eyes and hair, which was so close to black that no one but I would have noticed all of the other colours in her silken tresses. She knew what it was I asked of her, and she knew the delicate line she tread on the rare occasion when I did ask. A tremor passed up her long, straight spine, and a bloom of tiny goose bumps textured her bare arms. It would not be painless, what I asked, and I knew she feared it as much as she longed for it. I could hear the thud thud of her pulse in the thin, silken skin of her throat as she swallowed the sudden dryness of fear. ‘What do you want to know?’

I leaned forward to rake the tip of my thumb against the pulse point in her temple. ‘Everything, Talia. I want to know all of it. And when you know, come directly to me. I don’t care what time it is when you return.’

*****

It was nearing dawn when Talia returned to our accommodations smelling of sex, as I knew she would if she were to castlerigg3obtain for me what I wanted. By then my blood burned in my veins, and my body felt too close to me, as though the flesh that I dwelt in suddenly conspired to crush me with its demands. And though I knew that Reese Chambers could not have refused her even if she had come to him as a toothless, foul-smelling hag, I hated her that he had poured himself into her body while I had been left with only my fantasies kindling my lust to an inferno.

Though my need was such that my flesh was fevered and my cock an insistent throb, until she returned, I held myself contained within skin that felt too thin. When she saw the state that I was in, she pulled the heavy drapes with an efficient tug, then with a nod of her head, motioned me to follow her down into the basement room that had been prepared for me. When she turned to me at the foot of the bed, before she could opened her kiss-bruised lips to speak, I took her mouth, starving for the first taste of him, the taste of his saliva, the taste of his blood, mixed with hers. She’d bitten him; he’d bitten her back. He was rough, and he liked to be treated rough, but he kept that to himself. He was embarrassed by it. His lips were slightly chapped from so much time in the sun and wind, and they’d slid against hers, suckling and stroking and pressing until her mouth opened to his. With ravenous laps of my tongue, I tasted him in her mouth, and she held back the moan of response, so I could hear the echoes of his groans, heavy with need he’d not satisfied in awhile, and I felt kinship in my own unsatisfied needs. Images of him flashed through my head. Christ, his eyes were green, dark green like the evergreen forests of the north, and he kept them open when he kissed her, taking her in with his eyes.

I shoved aside the silk of her low bodice exposing her breasts, breasts that his hands had cupped. My nipples peeked to sharp aching points at the feel of his calloused thumbs raking, pressing and releasing. I breathed in his scent on her breasts, burying my face in her cleavage, licking the taste of salty, slightly picante maleness, sniffing and tasting until I could stand it no more. In one violent jerk, I tore the dress all the way down and shoved it off her shoulders, away from the flesh he had licked and kissed and mounted. I cried out at the feel of him, weight on one elbow, knee spreading her thighs, fingers opening her heaviness, anxious to penetrate, anxious to relieve his need. And then, with Talia free of clothing, Reese Chambers’ essence filled the room. Talia’s panties were still wet with his semen mixed with her humid desire, and I tore them from her and forced her onto her stomach, onto her hands and knees, so that it was not her face I saw, but his that I imagined. With hands on her hips, I raised her bottom in the air and spread her still swollen, still slippery folds with fingers made awkward by my arousal, letting the scent of his hot bread and honey release intoxicate me. Then I buried my face in her snatch and, as I ate his lust from her, I knew him.

He was Cumbrian born and bred, and his accent was the soft lilting sound of the fells. He was a landscaper and a britboysonboys cover imagegardener by trade. His hands held the magic of the earth and his mind conceived ideas for beautiful outdoor spaces; those he liked best were patterned after Renaissance and medieval gardens. He was homesick and heartsick. He’d gone to Surrey to work with his father because the money was good. But his father had died recently and he had returned home to Cumbria. He didn’t care if he had to work in a pub or muck stables. He wanted to be home. He missed the people and he missed the fells. He missed the simpler, more honest rhythms of life. He was shy, even a bit reclusive. He read voraciously and widely, he liked astronomy and he was afraid of snakes, though it embarrassed him to admit it. He hadn’t had sex in a long time, and found it better to have a wank session than a meaningless encounter. The facts of him, the details of his life raced at me in a flood I consumed ravenously with each lap of my tongue.

As I ate Talia I felt the shape of his face, the curve of his chin, the rise and fall of his chest as he had done the same. I felt the soft tuft of bronze curls nestled between the hard rise of his pecs and the courser, deeper curls that caressed his testicles and his cock when it was at rest, but it hadn’t been at rest. How many times had he taken her? He was thick enough to fill her and the friction of him inside was delicious and maddening. The shape of him – I wanted to caress the shape of him, with my hands, with my mouth, and the taking of his essence from Talia was an act of ripping away something that should have been mine. As I bruised her arse with kneading fingers and, as I licked the last of his release from her, she managed a breathless moan. ‘Take the rest. God, Alonso, take the rest, and release me.’

 

Buy Landscapes Here:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon AU

Amazon CA

Amazon DE

All Romance eBooks

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iBooks US

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Smashwords

 

An Unexpected Encounter with Alonso Darlington: 3rd Entry

I first shared my little encounter with Alonso Darlington when the novella, Landscapes was published as a part of the wonderful m/m Brit Boys: On Boys boxed set. For those of you who’ve read my online serial, In The Flesh, Alonso is a familiar character, but his story starts long before In The Flesh. and Landscapes is his first public appearance and, one — as you’ll see from the tale I began to share with you two weeks ago, he isn’t overly happy about. I felt with the release of Landscapes as a stand-alone novella coming up very shortly, it might serve as a warning to all of you  who choose to delve into the private life of a vampire. I’m risking Alonso’s displeasure again by sharing the conclusion of this little encounter with the release of Landscapes, the novella, only days away on May 24.

 

Read and be warned

 

An Unexpected Encounter with Alonso Darlington: Entry 3

 

Landscapes The room was as silent as a tomb after Talia left. God, I didn’t want to think of that analogy, but there it was, popping up in my head, and me alone with the vampire I thought I’d created, but wasn’t at all sure I could trust. Ha! Me being Alonso’s maker! The humour was almost, but not quiet lost on me.

 

I could feel his gaze rather than see it. But then Alonso’s gaze was nearly as physical as his touch. When it moved over me, I felt as though every part of me had not only been touched, but completely left naked and exposed. I kept my eyes focused on my hands folded in my lap as though I were offering up a white-knuckled prayer. Maybe I was. I honestly don’t know. I do know that I was scared witless. I had absolutely no clue what was going on or what was the significance of the conversation that had passed between Talia and Alonso. I was still struggling to get my head round what had happened and the fact that something so brutal could have been arousing as well as terrifying.

 

After what seemed like ages, Alonso released a heavy breath and came around the desk. He leaned back on it looking down at me where I sat, still avoiding his gaze. ‘Are you a fan of mythology?’

 

His question startled me, and I looked up. ‘Yes, why?’

 

In a move so fast I missed it until I felt the electricity of his touch shoot down my spine, he knelt in front of me and took my face in his hands so that I couldn’t look away. ‘You often write … stories that involve mythology, witches, demons, things that can’t be easily explained.’

 

I struggled to catch my breath enough to reply. ‘I write all sorts of things. I have an active imagination, like you said.’

 

He made a sound at the back of his throat that was enough like a growl to make the hair on my neck rise. ‘Your active imagination conjures a lot of very dangerous people.’

 

My laugh sounded high pitched and thin, bouncing off the stone walls. ‘You make me sound like a witch or something.’

 

He didn’t smile. ‘Not a witch. Not exactly.’

 

I couldn’t hold back a shiver, but I caught myself quickly. ‘I write fiction. That’s all.’

 

He said nothing, only studied me until I closed my eyes to get away from his intense gaze. It was the warmth of his lips on mine that caused me to start, his electric touch playing over me like ripples on a pond. The room suddenly seemed tight, airless. I tried to get away from him, but he held me tight. ‘Perhaps she’ll allow you to believe that, but I doubt it.’

 

Before I could either panic or throw myself into his arms and offer up my neck, he stood and moved back behind the desk. ‘You’re free to go, K D. Talia will take you back to your room, and you have free run of the house for now.’ He gave a huff of a laugh. ‘There isn’t much you’ve not already seen, I suppose.’

 

He was right. It was an intuitive experience, finding my way around High View Manor. And it was uncanny that I should know the place so well, that it was the place I had created in my imagination for a story I’d written, and yet my creation was stone and wood all around me. I wandered the grounds when I felt claustrophobic inside the stone walls designed to keep a vampire safe from the northern sun – anemic in the winter and tireless in the summer. I wandered the grounds wrapped in the heavy jacket, which I found returned and hanging next to the wardrobe in my room, as if by magic.

 

S6300754I felt as though I’d fallen off the edge of the earth and ‘here be monsters.’ This was the Lake District! I loved the Lake District. My heart felt like it was home the first time I came here. But Lakeland is also a place full of magic and mystery. That the creations of my imagination should take shape in the reality of the waking world made me feel wrong-footed and not quite at home in my own skin. It was unsettling enough to see the world I had created in my head solid and stable all around me, but it was much more so to feel threatened by the flesh and blood people that until now I thought to be only characters in my imagination.

 

The sun was setting and I had just returned from a wander in Alonso’s garden, shivering from the cold wind that had gotten up some time in the afternoon, and had just been joined by gravy-thick mist. I heard voices in the day room, heard the mention of my name, and stopped short to listen.

 

‘If Talia didn’t put the story of our relationship in Ms. Grace’s head then who the hell did?’ I recognized Reese’s voice and stepped closer on tiptoes.

 

‘It’s better that you don’t know,’ came Alonso’s reply. ‘Our cat’s out of the bag, so to speak. That means she should have no further interest in us.’ Then he added as an afterthought. ‘Though I honestly don’t know why she would want our story shared. I’ve kept my distance from her, respected her boundaries, kept her secrets – what few I know of them. I’m no threat to her.’

 

‘You’re recently returned to Lakeland,’ Talia said. ‘Granted High View and the surrounding fells is all your land, and you keep a low profile, but you’re here, and she’ll want to know exactly why you’re here and what your plans are.’

 

‘If she’s told my story to the writer, then she already knows my motives and that I’m no threat to her.’

 

No threat to who? Who the hell was he talking about? I felt like little ant feet were crawling up my spine. Christ! If there were someone out there who Alonso feared, someone whose attention he wanted to avoid, what the hell would they want with me? I was scared enough of him. Whoever she was, I was pretty damned sure I wanted nothing do to with her. I was so lost in my thoughts that I nearly missed Alonso’s next statement with all its implications.

 

‘Anyone else who she brings to Ms Grace’s attention, well that’s not our problem, is it? And the less we know the better.’

 

Anyone she brings to my attention? They thought this she, whoever she was, had made me write Alonso’s story? I was beginning to get seriously creeped out.

 

‘She was in Vegas last spring, our dear Ms Grace. You know that, right?’ It was Talia’s voice I heard now, and I inched still closer to the open door holding my breath. ‘More jet-lagged than usual from what I understand. I wasn’t so concerned when she was there the year before. But last spring, Mr. Graves had … company.’

 

‘It’s not our concern, Talia.’ Alonso’s voice was tight and irritable. ‘Mr. Graves has nothing to do with us, and if the woman writes his story, if that’s why she was so jet lagged, then better Graves than us. And he can certainly take care of himself.’

 

‘That’s easy for you to say.’ Talia’s voice, though low and controlled, made gooseflesh prickle up my arm. ‘But Ms Grace is here in the Lakes often, and you’re not the only one who has secrets, Alonso.’

 

‘What do you want me to do, Talia? Hmm?’ If she’s chosen Ms Grace to write the stories then there’s nothing any of us can do about it, and though Graves might be angry, he won’t take her on, not directly anyway. There’s too much between them.’

 

‘Who’s she? Who the hell are you talking about?’ Reese asked, his voice raised in exasperation.

 

Alonso’s reply was curt, sharp edged with warning. ‘We’ll discuss this later, after our guest leaves.’

 

Between Maiden Moor and High Spy, where Marie loses her way.Talia spoke over a loud clearing of throat. ‘And just how long do you plan to keep our guest listening at the door, Alonso?’

 

Before I could turn to flee, Alonso was at my side and with speed matched only by grace, he slid an arm around me and guided me into the day room where I was suddenly the center of attention.

 

‘I’m sorry. I was just coming in and I heard my name and … well what you were saying was …’

 

‘Frightening?’ Talia came to my side and smoothed my wind-blown hair away from my face, and the feather touch of her fingers sent the feeling of champagne bubbles bursting all over my body. ‘You have good reason to be frightened, scribe.’ Before I could step away from her, she pulled me into her arms and kissed me.

 

From somewhere a long way off I could hear Alonso and Reese, voices raised in alarm, but after that everything happened so quickly, I can only guess at events. They came to me like scenes lit by a strobe light, fast, frantic, and disjointed. There was a woman. I can’t recall how she looked, and yet I know if I ever see her, I’ll know instantly that it was her. She was achingly beautiful and yet something about that beauty terrified me. I tried to run from her, through an overgrown garden, dark and wild and more alive than it should have been. And there were stones, all around me stones some sculpted, some grotesque, some worn away until I couldn’t tell if they were ever more than just the rock on the fells.

 

Then someone carrying a flaming torch walked inside me like I were the garden, ignoring all the places that I chose to share with the world and seeking out the darkness in me, the shame in me, the places I never visited myself, let alone invited company in for a look. I cried out, I screamed, I tried to chase the torch bearer away, but the more I tried, the more my darkness was illuminated.

 

And then I was falling down underground, at first into the ruins of a slate quarry, and then there were bright lights above me, but I walked in caves, through endless tunnels and caverns, and I walked among the dead, all the while knowing that the bright lights were above me and that above me people celebrated, people danced and drank and partied. Yet they were oblivious to the dead just below them, the dead I walked among as I followed the torchbearer through the darkness. I followed until we came to the edge of an abyss, and there, the torchbearer turned to me and spoke against my ear. ‘Write it. Write what I tell you.’ Then with the flat of her hand in the middle of my back, she gave a gentle push, and I fell over the edge.

 

I woke with a start, gasping for breath. I’m embarrassed to say that I might have actually been screaming. It was Reese who held me, and soothed me back into the waking world.

 

‘Goddamn it, Talia!’ Alonso was saying. ‘Why the hell did you do that?’

 

I was lying flat out on the leather sofa with Reese kneeling at my side. But Talia was kneeling next to him.

 

As I fought to sit up, Talia glided across the floor to Alonso, took his face in her hands and kissed him hard. He gasped as though she had gut-punched him, grabbed at her as though to keep from falling and then stopped trying as his legs gave and he dropped onto the love seat across from me where he sat breathing like he’d just ran a marathon.

 

Dale Head Pivotal location for Elemental FireTalia pulled herself up to her full height, squared her shoulders and spoke in a quiet voice. ‘Now you know. Now we all know. And there’s nothing we can do about it.’ Then she turned and walked out of the room.

 

‘Do about it? What did she just do? What did she see?’ Reese sounded as though he wasn’t all that far from the panic I felt it knowing that whatever had happened inside me, Talia had just conveyed to Alonso, and I was pretty sure they both understood it a helluva lot better than I did.

 

If Alonso wasn’t already dead, I’d have said he looked like death warmed over, and his gaze was locked on me as though I’d just sprouted horns and a tail. Then he pulled his cell phone from his jacket pocket still holding me in a cast-iron gaze. ‘Stephen, see that Ms Grace’s clothes are packed and the car is brought around for her. She’ll be leaving immediately. Oh, and see that the jet is prepped to fly her to Heathrow.’

 

It was full dark when Alonso walked me to the waiting SUV. Up until that time no one had spoken to me, though I had been well-fed, which was good because after whatever had happened to me in the day room, I was ravenous. The driver got out to take my bag and Alonso took my hands in his.

 

‘It isn’t over, K D.’ Before I could ask, he raised his hand to stop me. ‘I wish that I could tell you more, wish that I could help you, but I can’t. I know little more than to tell you that you need to be prepared because mine won’t be the last story you’ll be compelled to write.’ He shrugged. ‘I’m overstepping my boundaries by even telling you that, but perhaps she’ll forgive me. Perhaps not. Still you should be warned. You should be ready for what’ll be asked of you. At least as ready as it’s possible to be. I am sorry, K D. Truly I am.’ He kissed me on the cheek, then nodded to the driver.

 

I slept most of the way home, dreaming of things too disturbing and too erotic for me to share outright with you. Most of them involving Alonso and Talia, but during those dreams, I always knew that she was watching. There were moments when I could almost figure out who she was, but then like most dreams, what I struggled to hold on to vanished into mist before I woke up.

 

Once at home, I fell into my own bed without even undressing and slept a deep, dream-filled sleep, often feeling as though Alonso or Talia, sometimes both, were there in the bed with me, and always she watched just beyond the edge of my consciousness. I woke half-convinced that I’d dreamed the whole experience, but for the still-packed bag sitting on the floor in the hall. Even then, I thought perhaps I could have packed it in my sleep. Denial is a powerful thing. It was only after I’d gotten out of the shower and was drying myself that I noticed two tiny puncture wounds above my left breast. But even that I tried to justify as some sort of skin irritation or maybe an insect bite.

 

In the days that followed, I developed no aversion to sunlight, no desire to drink blood, no powerful urge to return to Alonso. Neither did Talia visit my dreams again. In the days that followed, I constantly questioned myself, tested myself, trying to discover exactly what it was about me that had changed. Something had, and yet I still can’t put my finger on what it was or why or how, but something is different.

 

Alonso’s parting conversation keeps coming back to me, and I wonder just what I aught to be prepared for, and who the hell she is. I keep trying to make sense out of whatever it was that happened between Talia and me, whatever it was that happened in my head, or in my imagination, or wherever it was. None of it makes any sense. But what I do feel is a sense of heightened expectation, as though something important, something that I need to do or know, is about to happen. But then again, perhaps it is nothing more than my overactive imagination exerting itself a little more than usual.

 

 

Addendum:

 

I now know who she is. I wouldn’t say that Magda Gardener has exactly become my friend. No one would say that about britboysonboys cover imageMagda Gardener, but I would say that as she guides me to the stories I’m compelled to tell – the story of Susan and Michael, the story of Mr. Graves and Samantha, she gives me little glimpses of herself – I don’t know if that is on purpose or inadvertent, but it doesn’t matter. What I have learned is that Alonso and Talia were right to fear her. Why I don’t know is why, in all the world, she chose me to write the stories of her Consortium. As those stories unfold, I’m not sure whether to be excited and flattered that I have been chosen, or to be terrified as each story reveals more of her own darkness. You, dear readers, will have to be the judge, and Alonso and Reese’s story is just the beginning.

 

Preorder Landscapes now

Landscapes available for Download 24 May

 

An Unexpected Encounter with Alonso Darlington 2nd Entry

I first shared my little encounter with Alonso Darlington when the novella, Landscapes was published as a part of the wonderful m/m Brit Boys: On Boys boxed set. For those of you who’ve read my online serial, In The Flesh, Alonso is a familiar character, but his story starts long before In The Flesh. and Landscapes is his first public appearance and, one — as you’ll see from the tale I began to share with you last week, he isn’t overly happy about. I felt with the release of Landscapes as a stand-alone novella coming up very shortly, it might serve as a warning to all of you  who choose to delve into the private life of a vampire. I’m risking Alonso’s displeasure again by sharing the tale, which I began last week. I’ll share the last entry just before the release of Landscapes, the novella, on May 24.

 

Read and be warned

 

An Unexpected Encounter with Alonso Darlington: 2nd Entry

 

 

LandscapesI remember only one time in my life when I woke up with no memory of what had happened to me, and that was in the recovery room following a major surgery. This time, I woke battling a heavy duvet and found myself in a … tent? It was winter. Why would I possibly be in a tent? By then I’d regained enough of my wits that I realized I was in a bed, a heavy antique bed with velvet curtains pulled around it to shut out the light, and the tight little space around me smelled of strange spices laced with a musky outdoorsy scent I couldn’t quite place. A peek outside the curtain revealed sharply-angled sunlight falling anemically across stone floors and Turkish carpets. The heavy wardrobe and bureau in the room matched the dark wood of the bed. I appeared to be alone.

 

It was then that the memories flooded back to me, and my heart battered my ribs as I grabbed for my throat, cursing in spastic breathless whispers. With trembling fingers, I examined the place where Alonso Darlington’s lips had been, where his tongue had been, but there were no bite marks I could feel. Christ! Surely he wouldn’t bite me. Why the hell would he bite me? The Alonso Darlington I knew – well the one I’d written about at least – would not have brought me to his own home and bit me against my will. But then until last night, I thought Darlington nothing but a character I’d dreamed up for a story.

 

I stumbled from the bed, caught my foot in the duvet and fell on my arse. A frantic look around showed an open door through which I could see the dark blue tiles of a bathroom. When I couldn’t find my clothes, I wrapped myself in the duvet and stumbled to the sink. A close inspection in the mirror showed no evidence of bite marks. Then I remembered that the neck wasn’t the only place that Alonso bit people. I dropped the duvet, then twisting and turning like a contortionist, I checked every part of me I could see in the mirror. Then I plopped down on the edge of the claw foot tub to check my legs and groin.

 

‘Don’t worry, K D, he didn’t bite you.’

 

I yelped and nearly upended myself in the tub as I looked up to find Talia standing in the door dressed in a red cashmere sweater and black jeans. I quickly grabbed for the duvet to cover myself.

 

She shook her head and offered me a wicked smile. ‘If he had bitten you, he’d have wanted you to know in detail exactly what it felt like.’ She leaned closer and the smile became dangerous. ‘He’d have wanted you to enjoy the experience completely.’

 

She looked me up and down. ‘Me, I wouldn’t have cared if you’d known what I was doing to you, but just for your peace of mind,’ she leaned closer still, and once again I nearly fell into the tub trying to avoid her touch, ‘I was otherwise occupied last night.’

 

I stood up clutching the duvet tightly around me. ‘Then what happened?’ I managed to sound almost calm. ‘Because I don’t remember anything after he …’

 

Her lips quirked into something that wasn’t a smile exactly, and I felt a chill snake down my spine. ‘You’ll have to ask Alonso.’ She nodded back to the room. ‘Cook has made breakfast,’ she chuckled, ‘though you’ve slept half the day away. You’ll find your bag has been unpacked and your clothes hung in the wardrobe. I’ll take you to Alonso when you’re ready. In the meantime make yourself at home.’ She turned and left.

 

I ate like a starving woman, like someone who had been … kept up all night. But surely I would have remembered if that had been the case. After a quick shower, I discovered that my make-up bag and toiletries were on the dressing table near the big window but my shoulder bag and my mobile were nowhere to be found. That left me with an uneasy feeling. Though Raymond had known I was coming to Cumbria, he would be worried if he didn’t hear from me.

 

Once dressed, I was surprised to find the door to the room not locked. I thought about making a run for it, but one look out the window at the frozen landscape with the heavy cloudbank rolling in over the fells, and the fact that I also couldn’t find the heavy coat from last night made me reconsider. On top of that, I was reminded again that I had no idea where I was, nor had I recognized the route by which I’d arrived last night. I thought I’d recognized the hulking shape of Scafell Pike from the window, but even that was lost behind the cloudbank. I was completely turned around.

 

 

S6300754

There was no time for a Plan B. Talia shoved open the door without a knock, inspected me with a gaze that made my knees weak, then she smiled. ‘Come on. Alonso’s waiting for you.’ What choice did I have? I followed her into an unadorned stone corridor that smelled dusty and muddy with the scent of heavy renovations in progress rather than the scent of age. She led me down a steep stone staircase claustrophobic in its tight twists and turns, and treacherous in its smoothly warn steps. The deeper the stairs descended, the closer the walls became. I’m not fond of tight places, and by the time the space opened out into a pleasant well-renovated sub-basement, I was having a bit of trouble breathing.

 

‘It’s several hours till dusk,’ Talia said, noticing my distress. ‘That being the case, this is where you’ll have to meet Alonso.’ She offered a throaty giggle. ‘You were right in your written accounts, hon, no coffins, not for Alonso at least.’ Without preamble, she opened a heavy wooden door that screeched against the stone floor, stepped back and nodded me in. I stumbled and nearly ran into Reese who was leaving in a hurry. He didn’t seem pleased.

 

He grabbed me by the shoulders to keep me from stumbling. ‘I’m very sorry about this, Ms Grace,’ he offered Alonso a hard glare, ‘but he’s a pigheaded prick at times.’ Then he glared at Talia and shoved his way past. I could hear the clumping of his heavy boots receding as he ascended the stairs. Then I turned to see Alonso fighting back a smile.

 

‘I’m afraid Reese is right, K D,’ he said, giving me the same once-over Talia had only minutes before. ‘I am a pigheaded prick at times, and until I get to the bottom of how you uncovered even my existence let alone such a … vivid view into my private life, I shall continue to be so.’ He nodded to a wingback leather chairs in front of the huge desk behind which he now sat. I settled reluctantly, more than happy for the comforting expanse of the desk between us.

 

For a long moment, he studied me without speaking, then he leaned over his desk and offered a genuine smile. ‘Did you sleep well, K D?’

 

Strangely enough I realized I had slept very well, or at least I certainly felt very well rested. Before I could answer, he shot Talia a quick glance and continued. ‘Did you have … pleasant dreams.’

 

The skin on my arms rippled with gooseflesh. I shivered in spite the warmth of the room, which looked more like the library of a wealthy English manor house than a room in the sub basement of a crumbling ruin. ‘I don’t remember dreaming at all,’ I said, glancing over my shoulder as Talia came forward and settled into the chair next to mine.

 

Alonso made no response, and neither did Talia, but I could feel all eyes on me. I forced myself to sit perfectly still as though I wasn’t bothered by the gaze of two alpha predators who could, and might have already, done anything they wanted to me, who now were staring at me like I was lunch. Of course I couldn’t do anything about my galloping heart nor my sweaty palms.

 

At last Alonso heaved a sigh, and I found myself wondering if vampires breathed. I’d read conflicting stories, and in all honesty, I couldn’t remember if the Alonso in my account breathed or not. Christ, if I’d had any idea I’d be meeting him in person I’d have paid more attention. My thoughts were quickly refocused completely on his person when I realized he had somehow, in a heartbeat, come from behind the desk to lean over me, and I definitely felt his breath on my face, warm and sort of spicy, a scent that brought with it intimations of wild remote places. I froze. It wasn’t like I could have Dale Head Pivotal location for Elemental Firedone anything else. He mantled me as though he were a bird of prey and I was a fresh kill.

 

‘You’re telling the truth,’ he said, smoothing my hair behind my ears and cupping my face so I had no choice but to meet his gaze, an act which in and of itself felt like falling off a cliff on the high fells. ‘You honestly believe the story you’ve written about Reese and me is just that, just a work of fiction.’

 

I fought for breath. ‘I would never violate anyone by putting their private life into my stories. Ever.’ There was no keeping my voice steady. In truth, there was no keeping my body steady. I was shaking like a leaf.

 

‘No. Of course you wouldn’t,’ he said, his thumb gently raking across my bottom lip, which did nothing to ease my breathing. His dark eyes flashed over to Talia. ‘Which brings us back to the question at hand. How could you have possibly known the truth of what you wrote?’

 

Talia only shrugged and held his gaze. ‘Interrogate me if you want. I told you it wasn’t me. If I’d visited her bed and shared with her, I’d have taken a great deal of pleasure in sharing it with you, Alonso.’

 

What happened next I still can’t believe, and it’s not easy for me to write about. I’m used to writing sex and violence in fiction because I’m always safely removed from those acts that evolve in my imagination. But this … this was an encounter in which I found myself the accidental voyeur, way more up close and personal than I ever hope to be again.

 

In a heartbeat, Alonso pulled Talia up from her chair. I heard her breath catch, heard the bones in her neck pop in the violence of his efforts. Then with a single tug of his fist, he ripped open the front of her sweater and shoved it aside. I think I might have yelped. Not that anyone noticed. Talia gasped, but in that gasp I heard no surprise. She was naked beneath the torn cashmere, and in less than a heartbeat, Alonso pulled her into a back-breaking embrace, cupped her right breast and … brought his mouth down onto the swell of it high above her heavy nipple.

 

One of them, maybe both of them growled, and as he jerked her closer, I could see the garnet welling up of her blood just before his tongue slid over it, just before his mouth closed around it in a sound that was not unlike a lover’s passionate kiss. And then, I swear, the color of her eyes changed just before she closed them and fisted one well-manicured hand into his hair effectively holding him to her in an act no less intimate and no less violent than his own. Her other hand snaked around his waist and burrowed beneath his tailored black shirt and up his spine.

 

His response to her touch on his bare flesh was a quick, but violent convulsing of muscles until I feared he’d break bones. Then he groaned and shivered. I remember wondering at that moment if her touch had made him orgasm. I remember thinking I should look away, that I should leave them to whatever strange disturbing intimacy this was, but I couldn’t look away. I knew at that moment that to do so was physically impossibly. Then, to my horror, I felt as though I were the third party in the joining. No, that’s not really a good explanation. I felt as though I wasn’t there at all. I felt as though one second I was Talia being bled by Alonso’s powerful predatory kiss, being nursed upon by his warm lips; and the next I was Alonso being touched, in far deeper places than his bare flesh, being taken over by the succubus. And when I was sure I would pass out from that strange sense of terror and arousal that I couldn’t quite imagine existing in the same instant, Alonso pulled away, stumbled backward against his desk, his eyes still locked on the succubus, and Talia fell back into the chair with a little sigh.

 

Wiping his mouth and bracing himself on the edge of the desk, he moved back to his own chair. Talia sat straight and square shouldered next to me catching her breath. She made no effort to cover herself and I could see the bite marks bruised blue and bright red above her nipple. ‘Are you satisfied now?’ she asked, sounding as though she’d just been britboysonboys cover imageout fell running.

 

He scrubbed a hand over his face, then looked from her to me and back again. ‘If not you, then who, Talia? How the hell did she know?’

 

‘Don’t be daft, Alonso. You know how. You just don’t want to admit it.’ Then she stood and exited the room with way more dignity than someone who had had her shirt ripped off by a vampire should have been able to manage. It was only with the door screaking closed across the stone floor that I suddenly remembered, I was alone with Alonso Darlington.

 

 

Preorder Landscapes now

Available for download 24th May

 
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