Authors: Jana Downs
Tags: #MM Fiction
Dageus is a demon warrior sworn to protect his Prince even if it means sacrificing his past. Even without his memories, ice blue eyes and hard male touches haunt his fantasies. Despite his disturbing desires, Dageus has more important things to worry about when his prince and fellow warriors travel from Demontia to Earth to escape the assassins hot on their trail.
After years of searching for his lost lover, Kalel, Master Vampire Alexander never expects to find him walking through the doors of his theater. But Kalel is no longer the same young dancer Alex remembers. Kalel is now a Ravyn warrior with a new name and no memory of their love.
When Dageus finds himself face-to-face with the man of his dreams, he can no longer deny the desires that have driven him in the years since becoming a Ravyn. He must learn to balance love and duty in order to find happiness in a world full of killers, vampires, and dances that are hot enough to scorch the sun.
Alternative (M/M or F/F), Fantasy, Paranormal
Ravyn Warriors 1
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Erotic Romance ManLove
Copyright © 2011 by Jana Downs
E-book ISBN: 1-61034-826-5
First E-book Publication: September 2011
Cover design by Jinger Heaston
All cover art and logo copyright © 2011 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
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To K, for listening to me babble about my dream men, not yelling at me to turn off the light and go to bed when my muse wouldn’t let me sleep, and believing in every story I’ve ever written. You’re awesome, Butterfly.
Ravyn Warriors 1
Copyright © 2011
Kalel panted, his whole world focused on the burning ache of his lungs and the sweat that poured down his face in rivulets. His hands ached, blistered from holding onto his weapons in the hot sun. He’d been sparring for days now. Almost seventy-two hours had passed since his current opponent had begun the
with him, and he felt every second tick by like a moment in hell.
He wiped his sticky hair off his sweat-slicked forehead.
. It was hotter than the four gates of the Netherworld. He eyed the other man with weary regard. He was the longest-lasting opponent he’d had in this long race for his ultimate goal and freedom. At the start there had been fifty men, all dangerous and courageous. Now there were only two. He smiled in grim satisfaction. His goal was in sight if only the enemy made one final slip.
He spared a glance at the four men who stood at the edges of the arena. Their stoic looks were more than a little intimidating. Those men were the referees of the tournament. They determined who would be chosen for the only open position in the elite group of demon warriors known as the Ravyns.
It was an exclusive brotherhood in which only five spaces were available per generation. It was believed that those spots were filled with the reincarnations of the previous Ravyns that had once occupied the position. Supposedly their souls were recycled endlessly to carry out whatever duties the Ravyns were responsible for. No one Kalel had found in all of the demon realm knew exactly what the brotherhood was for, but it was rumored to be a position that granted its members almost exclusive rights to use the portals, which the demons referred to as bolt holes, that snaked through the worlds. If only he could get access to those portals, he could go home. He sighed in wistfulness at the thought. He’d been gone almost five years now, by his estimates. He wondered what Alex would say when he came walking back through the front door after all this time.
He was jarred from his thoughts by his opponent’s vicious stab with his spear. He cursed himself for being careless.
“You’re attention is waning, cub!” one of the warriors called from the sidelines. He thought his name was Druas.
He cursed again. With a deft motion, he parried the blow and made a thrust of his own. Viciously, he brought down the hilt of his short sword on his enemy’s head when he overreached. A sickening crack sounded, and with a grunt his opponent collapsed at his knees. Kalel gave a savage hoot of victory before thrusting the sword to the hilt through the exposed skin above the collarbone, piercing an artery. He pulled back and was baptized in his opponent’s blood. The body slipped to the ground in a boneless heap.
Kalel grinned, allowing himself to collapse beside the corpse. He’d done it. He’d done it. He’d done it. He repeated in his mind like a mantra. He’d go home. Home. Home. Home. The word replayed in his thoughts, and he was momentarily carried back to the last time he’d seen that wondrous place.
* * * *
Five years previously
“One, two, three, leap! No, no, no, Kal! Gracefully, for the love of God!” Santiago slapped his timing stick to the floor at the desired rhythm as Kalel struggled to leap gracefully into Alex’s strong arms. He blushed and screwed up again. It wasn’t just that he didn’t trust Alex to hold his slight mortal weight in the air. He was just terrified that he was jumping into the arms of La Petite Morte’s favorite star and Master Vampire, Alexander Daranoz. Granted, Kalel had been raised by Alex’s brother and co-owner, Damian Daranoz, but the contact he’d had with the brooding vampire ruler had been minimal since Damian had adopted him at the age of seven.
Now he was co-starring with him on the latest production, playing a leading role that required him to be very up close and personal with one of the most breathtakingly beautiful men he’d ever encountered. The vampire dance troupe was renowned throughout the world and the city of Haven, Minnesota. Their small hometown base had a hard time meeting the public demand for the troupe’s performances. Both humans and non-humans alike were drawn to Haven for the beauty of the otherworldly dancer family and their stunning shows.
Kalel was the first addition to the company in over four hundred years if Maddeline, Damian and Alex’s maker, could be believed. Santiago, who was head of the Entertainer line, had to personally approve all choices made by his progeny for the troupe as well as those whom his offspring wished to sire. They were a very tightly knit family and had been for over two thousand years. Maddeline said that the family had never been above ten members, and the four left in the line were the closest thing to family that any vampire could ever hope for.
The Entertainer line itself was pretty self-explanatory. They were the Entertainers of the vampiric world. They played host to a variety of functions but primarily worked for the council of thirteen, the vampire equivalent to the Supreme Court, up until the American Revolution. Alex, apparently wary of the council’s squabbles in France, moved the entire family to the little-known collection of colonies that would soon be known as the United States. The newly founded country had been the center for their business affairs ever since. When the vampires had gone public in the late twenty-first century, business had, in fact, boomed beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Even with the humans’ initial reaction of disbelief and fear at the knowledge that otherworldly creatures existed, the Entertainers held them all in awe.
“Dammit, child, when are you going to learn to trust me?” Alex demanded, snapping Kal out of his reverie.
“W–what?” he stuttered, unsure he’d heard the Master correctly. Alex seemed to be fuming over his fumble.
“I asked if you were ever going to trust me, you impudent cub. I wrote this play for us, specifically going to the trouble of creating a dancer with mortal capability because I knew you could pull it off. Why do you insist on disappointing me?” Kal’s blush deepened. Alex’s eyes snapped fire. “Do not apologize! Fix it.”
Kal swallowed and gave a heavy sigh. Already his body ached from the hours they’d spent perfecting their art. He wished the vampires could understand the mortal limitations of his body. Alex’s nostrils flared as if in recognition of his thoughts.
“Leave us,” Alex whispered in a voice that left no room for argument. Damian shot Kal an anxious look before sliding from the room. Kal waved at him to go on. Damian tended to worry over him excessively even when it came to his own brother. Kal knew Alex could be harsh, but they all knew what a good man he was. .
Once they were alone, Alex turned to face Kal’s worried visage. “Do you want to explain how, when you and Damian practice, you nail this routine as if it were nothing? Yet when you practice with me, you fuck it up every time?”
Kal could offer no explanation other than he thought the Master vampire the most beautiful, graceful, and absolutely most talented being he’d ever seen. He blushed as the thought entered his head. He shouldn’t be thinking such things, but ever since the first time he’d seen Alex he’d felt the inexplicable pull of the Master. People threw themselves at him daily, so Kal knew that he was far below Alex’s radar, but the desire still burned within him like a never-ending candle wick.
“I don’t know what to tell you, Master Alex. I just can’t seem to get into character.” He muttered the excuse, and it burned him. The lie was sour on his tongue. Alex seemed to peer into his eyes like some sort of blue-eyed avenging angel.
Abruptly Alex pulled Kal into his embrace. Kal pushed back instantly, hissing at the full body-on-body contact. They were both less than dressed with only tight-fitting black dancing pants to cover themselves with. The rest had been lost after the first couple hours of practice.
“Relax, Kalel. Relax,” Alex murmured, placing a calming hand on Kal’s lower back and taking him into the slow waltz from the third act. “Think of what the story is about. Close your eyes.” Kal did as commanded, unable to resist the calm, sexy tones the Master spoke in.
“This is a love story, Kal. You have to feel it in your very soul. Listen to the music.” Instantly the music began to play, and Kal found himself falling deeply under its spell.
“It speaks of two forbidden loves. The love between a vampire and a mortal as well as the love between a man and a man. Think of it, Kal. Both are taboo, yet the lovers cannot help but give themselves to each other. The scene you keep screwing up is the core of their desire. Their wedding to one another, where they exchange not rings but blood and passion. Can you see it?” he whispered in Kal’s ear, making him shiver.
The scene was suddenly in striking clarity. The movements had been pieces of a larger puzzle that Kal couldn’t grasp, but now he saw the passion in the movements, the straining limbs and heated embraces that sought ultimate fulfillment.
“Yes, Master. I can.” He was surprised at the husky timbre of his voice when he spoke, and he opened his eyes to gaze into Alex’s. Those vampire eyes sparkled with something, some emotion, that Kal couldn’t identify.
“I think I can do the scene now,” Kal said, lowering his gaze to the floor, desperately trying to hide the fact that he was not only lust glazed but hard as a rock, to boot. Abruptly Alex released him. Kal felt a pang of regret at the loss of contact but chastised himself. After all, the act was going to be three months long, if not longer. They would embrace far more in the play itself. Get a grip, he commanded himself.
“I think we should do one last run-through before I call everyone back in, Kal. What do you say?” Alex asked. Kal nodded deftly.
Without another word, the music began again. Kal was startled to hear the beginning build from the violin even though he knew it was the Master vampire who had somehow turned on the CD player with his mind.
The first embraces were the cautious ones, the ones in which they barely brushed one another’s skin, as if afraid to touch. As the music evolved, their touches became more forceful, almost violent in their intensity. Kal whirled around twice as if running from Alex, who abruptly dropped from the ceiling where he’d been levitating and scooped Kal into his arms, spinning him back to center stage. He shook his head in the choreography, denying his lover, claiming it was wrong, too much love, too much lust, too much!
Alex pursued, gripping his arms and pulling him into an embrace. Kal shoved him, doing a graceful tumble backward as Alex glided forward. It escalated with the music, and as it came to the crescendo, Kal managed to stumble down to the audience’s level, leaving a bereft vampire to weep on the stage as others would be levitating in pirouettes like the ballerinas in music boxes.
Kal glanced back as the music quieted, seemingly having a moment of self-evaluation. Hesitantly, he tiptoed up the stairs back to stage level, warily watching his rejected lover as he mourned his leaving. Sniffing the air, Alex looked up and burning blue eyes clashed with green. He stood and held out a hand for Kal. The music hesitated with him before rushing into another crescendo as Kal leapt into Alex’s arms.
The leap was perfect, and Alex snatched him out of the air like a doll, suspending him in a perfect circular turn before lowering him to his feet, their chests meeting. The next part of the scene was the one that was supposed to symbolize lovemaking, but because of Kal’s failure to perfect the first half they’d never gotten to it. As the music changed, however, Kal was more than ready to meet the challenge. Again they spun off together, this time ripping at each other’s clothing and smashing their lips together in mock kisses, fumbling with the silken flesh that was so addicting. Somewhere along the way, they both stopped dancing.
* * * *
Knowledge seeped into Alex as he watched Damian’s young cub fill with the first pangs of desire. He was barely eighteen, but he had captured the attentions of the Master of Haven better than any seasoned courtesan. It was what had inspired the whole damn play to begin with. The one scene that had Alex nervous was the one scene that Kalel seemed to be experiencing reservations about, the wedding.