Master vampire Krispin Stearling has led his coven for over one-hundred-fifty years. Ruling his people while running a successful hotel and bar—which affords the vampires a safe, discreet place to search for donors—creates a great deal of stress. Krispin finds refuge on his rooftop garden and meditates there often. Imagine his surprise when his beloved literally falls out of the sky, taking out a swatch of bushes with him. After Krispin drives away his beloved’s attacker, he takes him to his suite and ensures he’s well cared for. He learns his name is Washington, and he’s a tracker for the nearby Aerasceatle clutch. The gargoyle who’d injured him is a rogue he’s been tracking. While Wash admits to wanting to pursue his bond with Krispin, he has reservations. Wash’s clutch recently gained a new chieftain, a new inner circle, and he’s just coming to terms with the changes. Can Krispin convince Wash that switching his loyalty once more, to a vampire no less, will be well worth the upheaval it’ll cause to both their lives?
“Good grief. That’s the third fight Ridger has had to break up this evening. It’s like there’s something in the whiskey this evening.”
Krispin Stearling, master vampire of the Maven coven, turned his attention to where Basques Grouper indicated. Scowling, he watched Ridger Carruthers escort a belligerent, angry-looking man out of the hotel bar. A second man was standing with a group of friends with his arms wrapped around his waist and his shoulders hunched. Another man had his arm slung around the upset guy’s shoulders, clearly trying to console him. Carmine, an enforcer in Krispin’s coven, stood with them, talking to them, probably offering a drink on the house and an apology.
“Hmmm,” Krispin muttered. “It is odd.” Smirking at Basques, he quipped, “Perhaps there’s a full moon and we missed it?”
Basques scoffed. “Yeah. I’m sure that’s it.”
Over one-hundred-fifty years before, Krispin had started his coven with his best friends, Ridger and Basques. Ridger was his second-in-command, while Basques was his head enforcer. They’d settled in Green Springs, Wyoming, which had been little more than a mining town at the time. The first hotel they’d opened had also acted as a bawdy house, giving them access to a constant blood supply and leaving customers with happy memories.
Their business had evolved over the decades as the town and laws changed. When Green Springs had eventually transitioned to a mostly tourist town, they’d built the massive hotel—Clearmont Hotel and Suites. Along with the standard indoor and outdoor pool, recreation room, spa, and exercise areas, there was a large hotel bar and lounge, a restaurant, a small business area, and even a dance club. Those were all located on the sprawling main floor. The following eleven floors were the hotel rooms. The remaining ten levels comprised of the vampires’ suites.
There was plenty of opportunities for the fifty-seven vampires under Krispin’s care to find blood sources.
“Here comes Ridger,” Krispin pointed out, seeing his second reenter the lounge. “Perhaps he can clue us in.”
Ridger bee-lined it to the bar where Krispin and Basques were sitting on bar stools. After putting in an order for a whiskey, he heaved a sigh and settled on a seat at Krispin’s opposite side. Then he smirked at him.
It wasn’t until Ridger had his drink in hand and the bartender—Page, a vampire in their coven—had moved off that he muttered, “An ex-boyfriend who wasn’t too pleased to see his ex on a date with another guy.”
Krispin didn’t really have anything else to say. He’d never had a boyfriend, or girlfriend for that matter. As a paranormal who lived for centuries, he was waiting on Fate to bring him his special someone—his beloved—the one destined to bond with him and share their long lives together.
Sipping his whiskey, Krispin turned his mental energy in another direction. “Our hotel is booked for Memorial Day weekend. A lot of people coming to hike and explore the old mining museums.”
“That’s good,” Ridger replied. Then he cocked his head as he narrowed his eyes. “But it’s like that every year. What is it?”
Krispin smiled. His friends knew him so well. “But this is the first year we’ve had a flier in the coven,” he pointed out quietly, referring to the fact that Basques had recently bonded with a small gargoyle named Dloben. After a glance around to make certain no humans were near enough to overhear, Krispin asked, “Have we confirmed that the airspace around the hotel and the surrounding buildings have all the cameras pointed in other directions?”
Basques nodded quickly. “Absolutely. He doesn’t go far when he wants to stretch his wings, but we sure appreciate you accommodating him.” Grinning, Basques winked, his deep-blue eyes twinkling, “And the fact that you’re willing to share your rooftop oasis with us…thanks.”
Scoffing softly, Krispin smirked at his friends. “My rooftop oasis,” he muttered, shaking his head. “You both are welcome to use it. You always have been.”
“We know,” Ridger replied with a smile and a shrug of his wide shoulders. “But we also know how much the rooftop garden means to you. It’s your sanctuary.”
Krispin nodded once. His friends spoke the truth. Leading a coven of over fifty vampires while managing a hotel with several internal businesses created plenty of stress, even with the help of his best friends. When they’d put in the twenty-two-story building decades before, Krispin had needed somewhere to get away and meditate. The roof had been the perfect place to set up a garden with trees, bushes, flowers, trellises, and a fountain with benches. There was even a small greenhouse with similar features on a smaller scale for when it was winter.
While Krispin’s friends occasionally went there to decompress, it wasn’t often. For the most part, Krispin and the gardener—the vampire, Chase—had been the only regular visitors for years. With Basques bonding with Dloben, that had changed a little, but Krispin didn’t mind.
“How is Dloben settling in?” Krispin asked.
Smiling happily, Basques answered, “Great. He’s really blossoming.” Then he rubbed his big hand over his thigh as he let out a sigh. “Still ends up a little jumpy around crowds.” Basques waved his hand, indicating the busy lounge. “When it begins to clear out, he’ll join me, but this is too much for him.”
“So that’s a no-go on the dance club then, huh?” Ridger pointed out.
“Oh, hell no,” Basques replied, shaking his head. “Occasionally, we’ll hit it for the first thirty minutes on a weeknight.” Then his cheeks actually darkened as his mind went somewhere else. A second later, Basques told them, “And thirty minutes is more than enough to get my motor running.” He laughed as he blinked and refocused on them. “Dloben has some damn fine moves.”
Krispin chuckled softly as Ridger barked a laugh.
Basques nudged Krispin’s arm with his elbow. “And he really does appreciate the access to your garden.”