[Siren Classic ManLove: Erotic Alternative Paranormal Romance, MM, vampires, HEA]
Luca Valente is finally living his dream, touring the country with the witch he loves, Jax Crane. But just when he thought things couldn’t get any better, something happens that threatens to destroy everything he holds dear.
Mother Nature was awe-inspiring, no doubt about it. It made Jax see how insignificant and dispensable mankind and the paranormal beings that existed on Earth really were. If they were all annihilated tomorrow by some sort of pathogen for which there was no cure, life would still go on. Not as one knew it, but in another way. Perhaps more evolved or prehistoric or completely different in an unimaginable version.
It blew him away, just thinking about it. He perked his ears, letting the rhythmic drumming of the rain on the copper roof inspire his creativity.
He brushed the charcoal across the textured paper while his gaze shifted back and forth from the page and the view through the window.
While the minutes passed, a heaviness began to weigh on his mind and his eyes. He zoned out of the task at hand. His eyelids drooped closed and he sank to unconsciousness.
Coldness enshrouded him, seeping into his bones. Then a darkness spun and weaved itself into a haunting image in his mind’s eye.
He’d seen this creature before, on the very day he saved Luca and sentenced Helder Valente to death.
* * * *
Luca stared at the black diamond ring through the glass windowpane. He wondered if he should check it out. He’d been heading to his car with the fresh farmer’s eggs, baked bread, and organic fruits and vegetables he’d purchased when the glint of the artificial lighting in the window display bounced off the diamond, blinding him.
When he turned and saw it, he knew it was a sign. Jax had been preaching about fate and how it played a big mysterious hand in one’s life for so long that Luca bought into Jax’s beliefs. Just like Jax, Luca believed it was fate that brought Jax and Luca together. Not only had an evil elder vampire, who unleashed terror on many innocent victims, been vanquished by their meeting, but Luca and Jax had found one another. They’d encountered their soul mates in the process.
Now could it be fate meddling once again? Was it creating this rain storm so that Luca would choose this shortcut back to his car to avoid getting soaked, instead of the route he’d taken to get to the farmers’ market? Had it brought him here for a reason? So he could see the exquisite ring in the vitrine and buy it?
Was it time to take another step with Jax and ask the handsome, dashing witch to marry him?
They’d been living together for months and it had been amazing. Why not move forward and make Jax his husband?
A smile stretched his lips and tightened his cheeks. Yes. He’d do it. But just when he’d made up his mind to buy it, he caught sight of the price on the gold-lined sign pinned to the window above it.
It cost three thousand five hundred dollars, definitely a pretty penny.
He sighed with resolve. Money came and went. It meant nothing. What was important was showing Jax how much he meant to Luca. This ring would be the perfect representation of Luca’s love for Jax.
Unfortunately, he didn’t have enough money in his bank account to buy it today. But he had a couple of bonds stored in a portable safe at Victor’s place back in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
Since they’d only brought the necessities they needed for their country-wide tour, Luca had stored everything else in Victor and Steve’s attic.
He slipped out his cell phone from his front pants pocket and swiped Victor’s contact number. It rang several times until the voicemail message came on.
“Uh, yeah, Victor. Hope all is well with you and Steve.” He took a breath, contemplating how to word it. He hated leaving messages. He never knew what to say. “Umm, can you call me back when you get a chance? Thanks.”
He ended the call and meandered over to his car.
Within ten minutes’ time, he’d arrived back home. He slid the patio door open, expecting to see Jax sitting on the L-shaped custom-made couch reading a book. Jax loved curling up with a cozy mystery and a throw cover on rainy days.
But the couch remained untouched, the cushions smoothed out and the throw cover folded and tucked neatly in the wicker basket in the wall shelf.
He wondered if Jax had gone out. But if he had, then the patio door would have been locked and he would have taken his car, which was still parked next to the house. And yet he wasn’t here. The barnyard door to the bathroom was slid open. The half-closed bedroom at the other end of the mini home was barren.
That’s when Luca heard murmuring and ragged breathing with his acute vampire hearing and realized it was coming from the loft. He set the reusable bag of food on the narrow kitchen counter and ambled to the ladder hooked onto the base of the loft.
With ease he climbed the narrow rungs and peered at Jax as he lay in an awkward, twisted fashion on the plush carpet. He was asleep. It appeared he was experiencing a nightmare because he thrashed about, whimpering.
Luca was about to awaken him when he caught sight of Jax’s sketchbook. He’d drawn a contorted, haunting figure with charcoal on the textured page.
Luca froze, unable to unglue his fixed gaze from it. Although he’d never seen it, he knew what it was. From Jax’s description of it in his recount, Luca recognized it instantly.
It was the demon that vanquished his father Helder Valente.
A bone-chilling shiver overwhelmed him. It had an eyeless face, but he swore it was looking directly at him, premeditating his demise.
Luca took the book out of Jax’s hands and turned it sideways, as if the image would become clearer to him. He tilted his head and asked perplexedly, “What does it represent?”
“It represents Edmond Priestley, the witch who practices black magic. He married my mom and brainwashed her. He turned her into a mirror image of himself and blackened her heart.”
Luca spread out his arms. “Come here, baby.”
Jax snuggled into his cool embrace and felt warm inside.
“I guess since we’re back here in Louisiana, it’s rehashing your bad memories.”
“Yeah, it is,” Jax answered honestly. “I miss her, you know. We were very close. She was a great mom. She worked hard to give me everything while I was growing up. She had to be my mom and my dad, since my father died when I was only six months old.
“She taught me how to harness my magic, control it and use it for good, to help people.”
Crestfallen, he added, “But once she met Edmond, that all changed. She changed. Like Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde.”
“It seems she lost her way.” Luca stroked the top of his head.
Tears misted Jax’s eyes. He nodded. “I tried to help her see that practicing black magic was no good. It was slowly changing her.”
“What did she say?”
“Nothing. She refused to accept it and tried to force me to the dark spectrum of magic. When I realized she was too far gone, I left.”
“And now that you’re back here, you’re thinking about her and about the monster who stole her from you.” Luca pointed to the horrific image on the page.
Luca caressed Jax’s face with his cool, delicate fingers while he stared intensely into his eyes. “I’m so sorry, baby. I wish I could make things better.”
Jax grinned, sniffling. “You do make things better by being here with me and listening to my venting.”
Luca wiggled behind him. “I also give amazing back messages that are guaranteed to make you feel better.”
Jax laughed. “Oh, they do. Can I have one now?”
Luca cracked his knuckles. “Most definitely. Do you want a back massage only or a full body one?”
Goose bumps sprouted on Jax’s back while he imagined Luca’s cool, tantalizing touch. “A full body massage, of course,” he said with a salacious, crooked smirk.
Luca clapped his hands together. “Well, what are you waiting for? Strip, sexy.”
Jax half laughed, saluting. “Yes, sir.”
He started to take off his shirt by pulling it over his head and realized Luca was undressing as well.
He lay back, unzipping his jeans, and shrugged them off. Jax couldn’t help but notice Luca’s long, sculpted, muscular body, and his erect cock.
“Oh, interesting work habits,” he purred, ogling Luca’s prick.
Luca shrugged. “Clothes restrict my movements, unless you prefer me to keep my clothes on.”
Jax leaned over to block Luca’s hand when he went to pull up his pants. “Don’t you dare put those back on. No, my baby. I want you stark naked, so I can admire every delectable inch of you.”
Luca waggled his brow. “Ah, but you see, the way I give massages, you don’t get to see me.”
Jax pouted. “Not fair.”
Luca cupped his face and kissed him passionately on the lips, then whispered into his ear, “You get to feel me.”
He helped Jax take off his pants, socks, and boxer shorts.
The cool air up high in the loft sent shivers through Jax’s body.
“Lie down on your stomach,” Luca instructed.
“Now close your eyes and listen to the calming music.” Luca took out his cell phone from the jeans he’d discarded in the corner and began to play one of his playlists.
The soothing sound of the pan flute floated in the air. Jax lay down. The plush carpet warmed his front while his back remained cool.
When Luca touched him with his chilled fingers, Jax jerked and moaned.
Once Luca began to knead Jax’s tight shoulders, Luca’s cool touch became therapeutic.
He loosened the knots in Jax’s shoulders and in-between his shoulder blades.
“Ah, that feels so good,” Jax mumbled.
Luca remained silent as if he were concentrating on the task at hand. He glided his fingers in a crisscrossing motion across Jax’s back, then up and down, starting from his neck down to his lumbar.
Jax didn’t realize he had tightened his ass cheeks until Luca tsked. “You’re making my work ineffective, baby, by clenching these muscles.”
Luca grabbed ahold of each cheek and squeezed and rubbed it, making Jax relax his muscles. “Now that’s better.”
Jax groaned. “You know you’re making me horny instead. My balls and cock are bulging.”
“What?” Luca mocked shock as he turned Jax around and gawked at his hard-on. Then he spread a devilish grin on his lips. “How did that happen?”
He gently stroked Jax’s hard, wet cock. “Want me to massage this, too?” He gently rubbed his finger over the tip. Jax’s cock twitched. Pre-cum glistened at the slit.
“If you keep messaging it like that I’ll come before I can make love to you. And I want to fuck you more than any massage.”
Luca raised his hands in surrender. “Okay, no more massages. I’m all yours. Do with me as you wish.”