Happy Sunday my Lovelies. I’m having my coffee and my oatmeal and thought I’d share this insightful excerpt with you from Blindsided, my new release and the second book in Medusa’s Consortium. One of the things I’ve loved most about writing Blindsided was the interaction between Alonso and Michael and their struggle to deal with their feelings for Susan and for each other as their own relationship evolves. Lots of evolving relationships in Blindsided. This is one of my favourite scenes from their imprisonment. Enjoy!
In New York City, away from those she loves, living with the enigmatic vampire, Desiree Fielding, Susan Innes struggles to come to terms with life as a vampire whose body serves as the prison for a deadly demon.
When Reese Chambers arrives unexpectedly from England, desperate for her help, she discovers that Alonso Darlington, his lover and her maker, has been taken captive and Reese has been warned to tell no one but her. Before the two can make a plan, Susan receives her own message from a man calling himself just Cyrus. He not only holds her maker prisoner, but also her lover, the angel Michael. If she wishes to see either of them alive, she’ll come to him and not tell Magda Gardener, the woman they all work for and fear.
With no help coming from Magda or her Consortium, Susan and Reese must turn to the Guardian – the terrifying demon now imprisoned in her body. He alone can help them, but how can she possibly trust him after all he’s done?
What I didn’t want to know – Excerpt form Blindsided:
For a long moment, they lay in silence, the rise of their steamy breath in the freezing air the only movement. Michael observed that Alonso really had internalized the appearance of respiration. Even in pain and several pints low, he still kept up the human ruse. He wondered if in time Susan would do the same. No doubt if the demon living inside her thought it would protect him, he would make damn sure she breathed regularly. That was one more argument he and Susan had left unresolved. He had all but accused her of spending time with the Guardian and keeping it from him. He’d hurt her with his words, and she’d been angry. Fuck, how the hell did he think she’d respond to such accusations? He hated unfinished business, especially when he wasn’t exactly sure he would ever get the chance to finish it. But this was Susan he was talking about, and Reese was no slouch either. The two would find a way. He was sure of it, and when they did he wouldn’t want to be in Cyrus’ shoes.
A soft grunt from Alonso as he tried to get comfortable brought Michael’s attention back to the present. “I was
thinking,” he said, “I can stretch my wrist out far enough for you to feed. Would that help at all?”
Alonso made another attempt to move and cursed under his breath. When he was in control of the pain, he spoke. “It wouldn’t do anything about the silver, but it might make me strong enough to do something worthwhile if we get our chance.” Then he added, “Are you sure you want to do that? You’ve fed Susan. You know what it’s like, and I don’t have the strength to shield myself if you do.”
Fortunately Michael could still shield himself. He didn’t figure Alonso knowing that Cyrus had one of his henchmen slit Reese’s throat and that Susan had killed the bastard and healed Reese would be helpful right now. He would withhold that information until it could do them some good, a lesson he’d learned from Magda, the hard way. “I’ll do my best to be as non-observant as possible.”
Truth was, he couldn’t stand the thought of the man being weakened in this way. Alonso’s strength had always been a given, and being a part of Magda’s Consortium meant the vampire always had his back. You could do a whole lot worse than having a vampire as strong as Alonso as your ally—especially when the woman you work for has so many enemies. And now there was one more to add to the list—Cyrus, whoever he was. Without being able to bring Magda into the situation, they were short-handed in a serious way. He needed Alonso strong.
He wriggled and squirmed as close as he could get, then extended his arm, wrist up, maneuvering so that Alonso would have to move as little as possible. “Pretty sure Hal won’t disturb us for a little while,” he assured him as he positioned himself, glad, for the first time since he woke up in this icebox that he had on only a T-shirt. “There’s a poker game going on in a warmer part of our villa, and he likes to gamble. He’s on a winning streak at the moment.” When Alonso raised an eyebrow, Michael shrugged. “I hear things—especially when I eavesdrop. Besides, my hearing’s as good as yours, you know?”
“But not your manners,” Alonso said with an attempt at a chuckle that came out more like a clipped hiss.
“I can be well-mannered when it serves me,” Michael replied. “I’m an angel, remember?”
“Good, then prove it by trying not to pay too much attention to my inner workings while I feed.”
Before Michael could respond, Alonso clamped down on his wrist—none too gently. “Ouch, you bastard. Why don’t you just rip it open and gnaw on the bone a bit while you’re at it?”
While Alonso made no response, Michael could have sworn the man was smiling around his efforts to chew the offered wrist off. Then the flood of feelings, memories and experiences hit Michael like a sledgehammer. He would have been embarrassed, would have looked the other way, would have shut it all off if he could have. He simply hadn’t expected Alonso’s inability to shield to be so complete. The silver was doing a real number on him.
Right at the forefront of all that Michael neither wanted to see nor feel were images of Susan, naked and clutched in Alonso’s arms while he drained her life away. Through it all, Michael had sat helplessly watching, knowing that there was nothing he could do. But along with that image was a wave of gut-wrenching sadness. For the first time Michael realized that Alonso had truly not wanted to make Susan into a vampire. Even as he drained her, his heart broke for what would now be the gift he would give to her. How could Michael have believed that a man who lived in forced solitude to protect the world from the threat he saw himself to be could have ever wished that existence on anyone else? And yet in his jealousy, in his own pain and loss, that’s exactly what he thought.
To see another person’s inner workings through the blood meant more than a voyeur’s little look-see. It meant experiencing the feelings that ran deeper than the blood, whether they belonged to the person who fed, or to the person being fed upon. It meant experiencing them as though they were your own. That was in addition to your own, and Michael’s inner workings were unsettling enough without adding Alonso’s to the mix. No wonder shielding was the very first lesson both vampire and familiar learned. It was respect. It was decency. It was something that Alonso couldn’t do for himself in his weakened state. Too late, Michael discovered to his horror that, under the stress of the situation, he was no more able to shield himself than Alonso was.
He could do nothing but relive the memory of Susan feeding from Alonso for the first time, of Alonso giving her back the life he’d taken, giving it back through the gift of his blood. Michael held his own painful memories of that horrible time, memories of watching helplessly as his beautiful Susan lay naked in Alonso’s arms, the fledgling of a vampire who found her way more attractive than he ever intended. She’d done it all so that she could become a prison cell for a demon who lived for lust. She’d done it all to save him, to save all of them. And yet it hurt as nothing ever had hurt in all of Michael’s long existence.
The exchange of blood was like that. It carried with it incredible lust and longing. Michael felt it in the tiny exchanges he’d made with Susan, a bonding that deepened not only their lust and their longing, but their love and desire for each other. How much more would that be the case when the exchange was complete, when a whole life was given up in the blood and then taken back?
Alonso loved Susan with all of his heart. The place she held within it didn’t eclipse Reese’s, but it balanced it in a way Michael couldn’t comprehend, and he was certain Reese couldn’t either. In an instant, he understood exactly why there was trouble in paradise. And just when Michael struggled to get his head around that unwanted bit of information, Alonso’s fantasies broadsided him. The things the man fantasized about doing to Susan made Michael at once insane with jealousy and on fire with lust. In spite of the former, his cock responded as though the fantasies were his own.
“I need you to stop now,” he forced the words up through his tight throat. Alonso didn’t respond, lost in the flow of blood as he was, and even though Michael was shielded, he doubted himself, doubted his abilities. He sure as hell didn’t want the bastard to see his thoughts, his inner workings. He panicked and jerked back. “Goddamnit, Alonso, I need you to stop. Now!”
But even in his weakened condition, Alonso held tight, pulling deeply and roughly at the flow of blood. Pain shot up Michael’s arm clear to his shoulder. Then, with a groan that was agony of a different kind, Alonso pulled free, gave a quick sealing lick to the wound and turned away with a hiss of pain and the smell of newly-burnt flesh. This time the tension in his shoulders, the wracking drag of unnecessary breath wasn’t from physical pain.
Michael pushed himself back against the wall, the jangling of the shackles on his ankles and wrists drowning out the sound of their ragged breathing. He shoved as far away from Alonso as he could get, the ache in his groin a vivid reminder of the violation he’d just committed. Christ, he hadn’t meant to embarrass Alonso. In spite of his own embarrassment at doing the unthinkable, he couldn’t force back the jealousy of the closeness Alonso shared, and what he felt for his only fledgling. Nor could he fight back the lust. Not his fault. Not Alonso’s fault either, and yet he hated him for it. He hated that there was so much more than just jealousy caught up in his feelings, so much more than anger and frustration. “Alonso, I’m—”
“Shut up, Michael.” There was another groan as the man shifted further from him beneath his silver chains.
Michael looked down at the bite marks on his wrist, wondering what the hell had inspired him to ask a vampire, whose secrets he was certain he didn’t want to know, to feed from him. It wasn’t like it would do either of them much good at the moment.
He watched Alonso’s back for a long time until he was fairly sure he’d lapsed into unconsciousness again. His own lust eased, dissipating into the cold metallic air that now smelled faintly of his own blood, and he was relieved for his solitude. The bite mark on his wrist was nearly healed. Angels healed as fast as vampires—physically, at least. The healing from what had happened to Susan, the bond she now inadvertently shared with Alonso, well, that wound wouldn’t heal so quickly. None of them could have possibly known the consequences of her choice. She was a fledgling vampire with a demon living inside her, a demon who was her prisoner, a demon who had once been his lover, and who had often resided in him.
Christ, was he jealous of Susan now, too? Or was he jealous of the demon for sharing an intimacy with the woman he loved that he would never have? But then neither would Alonso. Fat lot of comfort that was.