Release Date: 02/2009
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publisher Link: http://samhainpublishing.com/romance/from-afar
Amazon Kindle: From Afar
Blurb: Some rules are destined to be broken.
Loneliness. A concept with which Raphael Laurent is very familiar. He’s lived a solitary life for thirty-six years, shunning the excesses of the local vampire clan—until he spots Lord Aleric Vane, the handsome and dissolute third son of a duke. For three years Raphael has watched from a distance, for only when he is near Aleric does the hollow, empty ache in his chest ease.
Cut off from his family for refusing to follow his father’s dictates, Aleric’s nights are filled with vice. But after three years in London, the city has lost all appeal. Desolate and penniless, his future appears bleak. Until a mysterious man drops from the shadows to drive off a trio of murderous thieves.
When Aleric awakens, he finds himself forever changed. The itch for more that drove him to London is gone. In its place is the feeling that he’s known the beautiful Raphael all his life.
But to save Aleric, Raphael had to break the rules, giving him a chance to love the one man he never thought he could have—a chance that could be ripped away by Aleric himself…
“It would be best if you cut all ties to your friends and family. Even a brief visit could prompt uncomfortable questions. They may notice the change in you.”
He’d never dwelled on it before, but now that he thought about it, he realized he hadn’t a true friend in all of London. Acquaintances, fellows who joined him for a night of revelry and women who joined him in his bed, but no one who would bat an eye at his sudden disappearance. Fortunate, given his new circumstances, but still, not a very good indicator of the type of life he had chosen for himself. In his quest to soothe that constant itch under his skin for adventure and excitement, for something more than bland routine, he had gotten himself nothing but a very empty, lonely life, and in the process destroyed his relationship with the only people who had ever remotely cared for him.
He heaved a sigh. “I doubt my acquaintances will miss me, and I haven’t spoken to my father or my brothers in three years.”
Brow furrowed, Laurent leaned forward, easily balancing on the edge of the dresser. “Why not?” he asked, intense curiosity written all over his face.
Aleric was a bit taken aback by the question. Everyone who was anyone knew the answer. But given Laurent’s nature, he obviously did not move about Society. It had been the talk of the ton for a while there—how the Duke of Haverton had turned his back on his youngest son. Aleric’s response to the gossip had been to throw himself into the life of a dissolute rogue with aplomb, or so he had thought.
“First sons are heirs. Second sons spares. Third sons go into the church,” he informed Laurent. “To my father’s extreme displeasure, I chose not to take the living at Barton Hall.” Extreme was putting it lightly. As a powerful and wealthy duke, there were few who dared to go against the man’s wishes. Aleric had dared, and then some. Days of arguing with his father had ended with Aleric walking out the door of the family’s country estate. He hadn’t returned since.
Laurent lifted a skeptical brow. “A vicar?”
“Indeed,” he replied with a tip of his head. “And since I did not fall into line, do the expected, my father cut me off. Hence why I haven’t spoken to him in years.”
“And why not your brothers?”
“They are dutiful sons who willingly follow in my father’s footsteps. Quite unlike myself.” He didn’t bother to mask the sarcasm in his tone.
He shifted on the bed, pulling one knee up, mimicking Laurent’s posture, and picked at a stray thread on the silk coverlet. He’d thought his options limited a few hours ago. Not a shilling to his name, the heavy threat of creditors knocking on his door, and with the distinct possibility of soon finding himself without a home hanging over his head. Yes, he had grown more than tired of the City, but…the realization he could never return to the life he knew slowly sank in. Everything familiar was now gone. And where before he held secure in the knowledge that with enough begging, with sufficient contrition, with a bow of his head and a promise to fall into line, his father would take him back, now that was gone as well.
“It will get easier to accept with time.” Laurent’s soft voice broke the quiet.
“And how much time have you had?”
A veil of sadness fell over his face. “Thirty-six years.”
“How old were you when you were…turned?”
Six years younger than Aleric. Odd, to think the man was actually fifty-seven years of age. He certainly didn’t look it. “Are there others like us?”
Laurent hesitated. “Yes.”
More questions tumbled about in his head, but he had the impression Laurent would not welcome them now. Laurent hadn’t ducked his head, had not gone back to hiding beneath the curtain of his hair. He still regarded him with those patient silver eyes. Still…
Aleric absently shook his head, not able to pinpoint where that sensation, that sense of discomfort, of trepidation came from.
“It is getting late,” Laurent announced. “You should settle in for the day, get some rest. Even though you can hide yourself from the sun, you need to sleep during daylight hours. Your body will demand it. If you wish, you are welcome to my bed.” A graceful leap and he landed soundlessly on his feet.
His bed? Of course, whose bed would he be in? And a very comfortable bed at that, though a bit untidy. The rumpled coverlet exposed hints of the white sheet beneath. The pillows bunched at the headboard. The mattress soft yet firm, and large enough to easily accommodate two men. His skin prickled with awareness, with the memory of that rumpled silk coverlet sliding against his back as Laurent pounded into him.
He snapped his head around, his attention going immediately to Laurent as the man adjusted the drapes covering one of the windows. The muscles in his back rippled and flexed with his movements. Aleric clenched his fists against the need to palm the round globes of his arse.
Arousal washed over him, focusing his senses fully on Laurent. He flared his nostrils, soaking up the scents in the air. Male musk, a hint of clean soap, and dried sweat mixed with the distinct scent of his own seed. Laurent still wore his mark. A tremble shook his body. His breathing turned harsh, heavy. He felt a light prick, like the touch from a needle, on his gums. He absently ran his tongue over his upper teeth, snagging two sharp points.
He rocked forward, coiling his muscles, a split second from springing from the bed, from launching himself at Laurent, tackling the man to the ground, sinking his teeth into that muscled shoulder and taking him, when it registered that Laurent was walking toward the door.
“Laurent.” Was that his voice? It sounded more growl than a word.
Hand on the knob, he turned. His once limp prick jutted from his body, stiff and hard. The scent so strong and precise, Aleric swore he could taste the fluid beaded on the tip of Laurent’s cock.
“You may call me Raphael, if you wish.”
“You are leaving?”
“Yes. You need to rest.” He tipped his head in the direction of Aleric’s groin, his only acknowledgement of the raging erection that needed his full attention. “And if I stay much longer, you won’t be getting any rest. Good day, Aleric. I will see you again come nightfall.”
The click of the door shutting echoed in the room before it faded to nothingness.
His panting breaths were all that broke the silence. The sounds quickened, grew shallower, hitching in his chest.
Aleric leapt from the bed, landing on his feet less than a pace from the door. Heart slamming against his ribs, he flung open the door.
Halfway down a short corridor, Raphael turned to face him. “Is there something you need?”
He couldn’t explain it, but he was suddenly frantic not to be left alone. Ridiculous notion. He was a grown man, had lived alone for the past three years. But he just could not shake it, couldn’t reason with the stark desperation not to be separated from Raphael.
“Where are you going?” Hell, and now he even sounded desperate.
“To another room for the night.” Raphael flicked his fingers behind him, toward the closed door at the end of the corridor.
Stay with me. He gripped the knob tightly, but he couldn’t will the tremble from his arm.
Raphael’s probing gaze swept over his face. After a moment, he nodded.
The tension slipped away as Raphael walked toward him. Aleric stepped aside, allowing Raphael to pass, and then closed the door behind him.
Raphael pulled back the coverlet, righted both pillows, and climbed into the bed, taking up the place on the far side. Aleric watched as he snagged the coverlet, pulling it up to his chest, clearly settling in for the night.
He looked to Aleric and patted the mattress. “Come along. You can’t very well get any rest standing at the door.”