Hi everyone! I am so pleased to welcome Anna Zabo here today at Joyfully Jay. Anna is here as part of our Joyful Approach: Countdown to GRL and it is nice to get a chance to meet an author whose work we have not reviewed yet on the blog. Anna has brought with her a great excerpt from her book Close Quarter, as well as a fabulous giveaway. So please join me in giving her a big welcome!
I like to play with tropes, twist them around a bit. Change them up. It makes life interesting.
When I started writing Close Quarter, I realized that both Silas and Rhys had the potential to be strong alpha-type characters. They also both had character traits that allowed them to be submissive and controlled. People are complex and aren’t boxed into being one thing or another. We often hide behind masks—presenting one face to the world and keeping another hidden.
I decided I wanted to explore that—the nature strength and appearance and role and how those can change. What’s behind the mask of an alpha-hole? Is the shy bottom really timid? Is he really a bottom? How much of what we show to strangers is mask? What happens when circumstance rips those masks off?
Outwardly, Rhys Matherton has drifted through life. Bad string of boyfriends, crappy home life, struggling in the arts. He inherits a couple of million dollars and a family secret when his mom dies and is lost. Taking a cruise is supposed to help him find himself. But he’s certainly not in a strong position—no, he’s a man primed to be swept off his feet.
Silas Quint is immortal, old, and very sure of what he wants. He knows how the world truly works and sees beyond what mortals can. He’s seen kings rise and fall. He’s talked with angels. He hunts vampires. And he’s good at sweeping men off their feet.
The roles are obvious. Until you throw in something monstrous that cracks one man apart and gives the other something to fight for.
In this scene, Silas and Rhys come face to face with the vampire Anaxandros. Silas, unfortunately, has met him before—had been his captive for a century.
The word never made it past his lips. It caught when his throat closed, when his breath failed to come, when his blood turned to ice, then burned.
Anaxandros had walked into the restaurant. The sun hung in the sky, golden in its descent. These two disparate images clashed in Silas’s head, stilled his motions for less than a heartbeat.
That moment of inaction let Anaxandros reach Rhys a fraction before the tip of Silas’s sword would have met the soulless’s flesh.
He pulled the blow when the soulless’s hand closed around Rhys’s neck. Silas stood frozen, sword in hand.
Rhys’s eyes were wide, his hands nearly as white as the tablecloth they pressed against. He tried to rise. Anaxandros pushed him back into his chair. There was no blood. Not yet.
Sunlight filtered through the windows, though they were in shade.
Terror ripped through Silas. It was Anaxandros who stood before him, holding Rhys’s life in his hands. Time had not changed one iota the soulless he had once called master. Taller than his own six feet and far broader, he looked like frozen gold. Blond. Pale. More angular than any fae. Coldly beautiful. His eyes were black, his teeth very sharp.
His deep voice still made Silas’s arms shake, his insides liquefy. Silas said nothing, could say nothing. The tip of his sword wavered six inches from Anaxandros’s chest.
The soulless smiled. “Sit down.”
Silas almost did. Nearly bent to that will. Blazing fury overrode fear and kept him on his feet. “Let him go.”
The words came out in Latin. He refused to speak in the soulless’s tongue.
“Such a pretty boy.” Anaxandros drew a talon up Rhys’s cheek, leaving behind a line of blood. “Do you enjoy raping him, Quintus? Sucking down his energy when he screams under your cock?”
Rhys trembled beneath the soulless’s touch, a deep anger burning in his forward stare. Only then did Silas realize Anaxandros had switched to English.
He switched languages as well. “Let him go.” The tremor of his hand did not extend to his voice. “If you harm him, I’ll cut you down right here.”
Anaxandros laughed, a sound that sliced through Silas like screeching metal.
No one else in the dining room noticed.
Once more, the soulless changed tongues, this time to Latin. “Sit down.”
Those words wrapped around Silas and tightened like a noose. His sword slipped from his hand and clattered against the dishes on the table. His knees bent. Only his iron grip on the table kept him upright.
It had been more than two thousand years. Why did he still need to obey this monster?
As if reading his mind, Anaxandros answered him. “Little fae, your kind never forget. And I worked so very hard to train you.”
Truth. Silas’s whole body shook with the shame of it.
“You’ll never be free of me.”
A thin tendril of energy wound its way up Silas’s leg, full of life and vigor. He lifted his head and looked into Rhys’s brilliant green eyes.
“Cut the fucker down.” Those words were in his head, along with Rhys’s anger. And his love.
Silas gripped the hilt of his sword. Lifted it. “I’ll be free of you when I slice your head off.”
Anaxandros laughed again. “I’m going to take your toy, Quintus. I’m going to break him as I broke you.” His talons pierced Rhys’s neck.
With Rhys between him and Anaxandros, he could only catch the soulless in the leg. If he moved correctly, if Anaxandros didn’t block with Rhys’s body.
It was Rhys’s voice, heavy with hate, that broke the silence. “I’m not his toy.” Rhys moved like lightning, reached out, grabbed the steak knife from the table setting, and rammed it backward into Anaxandros’s chest.
Silas lunged, his sword catching the cloth of Anaxandros’s pants, a bit of flesh too, for the smelled of charred meat met his nostrils. Anaxandros retreated before Silas could land another blow. He pulled the knife from his chest and threw it at Rhys.
Or rather, at Rhys’s empty chair. Gods only knew where he had gone or how he could have moved so fast.
Anaxandros snarled at Silas. “I’ll have him, Quintus. I’ll suck the marrow from his bones while I drown you in his blood.”
Rhys stepped out of the shadows into the sun. “If you want me, fuckhead, come and get me.” His hair glowed like a mass of molten copper strands, his skin gold in the afternoon light. He stood as proud and as beautiful as any fae warrior ever had. The element that whipped about him was richer and deeper than any Silas could call. All that was missing from the image was a sword in Rhys’s hand.
How many wars had Quarters fought for themselves?
Element struck Silas then, filling him, expanding his senses.
Anaxandros surged forward, drawn to the brightness that was Rhys. Rhys stepped back, farther into the sunlight. Flames licked up from the soulless’s skin when he crossed out of shadow.
Silas rushed toward the soulless. He’d never have a better chance than this.
Flesh sizzled and popped before Anaxandros’s taloned hands reached Rhys.
Rhys bared his teeth, malice in his smile.
The soulless fell back into shade, his face and arms blackened, but only blackened. No more flame came, no killing curls of fire from within the soulless. Silas aimed his blow at Anaxandros’s head. The energy Rhys poured into Silas quickened his motions. Time slowed; his aim was perfect.
Claws closed about the gladius’s blade. Pieces of blackened flesh fell from Anaxandros’s face, revealed pale skin, and turned to ash. “Too slow, sprite.” He pushed Silas backward. Turned. In the time it took Silas to regain his balance, the soulless had left the restaurant.
A snarl rose in Silas’s throat. So close! A fraction of a second sooner and Anaxandros would have been dust. He crossed most of the floor before Rhys’s voice caught him.
He halted. “I can catch him. Kill him. I’ll never have another chance like this.” His vision bled red at the edges; his chest heaved against the burning need to follow.
“Silas Quint.” Rhys’s voice caressed Silas’s mind. “Kill?”
Cold rushed through Silas. He fell back away from the door, the very words he had spoken to Rhys echoing in his mind. “You can’t kill something that’s already dead.” A moment later, he sheathed his sword. Arms now trembling, he’d barely held it properly.
Anaxandros could still affect his mind. More than two thousand years later, the soulless still possessed a piece of him. He ground his mouth closed to keep the wail inside.
A warm arm slid around his waist, fingers stroked the side of his face, gently turned his head back toward the dining room.
Rhys, all copper and green-gold. No blood on Rhys’s neck. Who had healed the wound?
“Come eat dinner,” Rhys said.
On a transatlantic cruise to New York, sculptor Rhys Matherton struggles to piece his life back together after losing his mother, inheriting a fortune, and finding out his father isn’t his father after all. He spills a tray of drinks on a handsome stranger, then he finds himself up against a wall getting the best hand-job he’s ever had. And for the first time in his life, he feels whole.
Rhys enjoys the company of Silas Quint, but for the eerie way no one pays attention to them even while they kiss in a crowded bar. Silas explains he’s a forest fae able to glamor the room around them—and more importantly, that he’s on the cruise to hunt vampires. Rhys thinks Silas is full of it, until he discovers vampires are real, and he’s part of the main course.
Silas Quint can’t be distracted by a human lover, even one as lovely as Rhys. Stuck in the middle of the ocean, he has barely enough of energy to hunt the vampires he’s been sent to destroy. Rhys is full of the one thing Silas needs needs most—the element of living plants. Only sucking energy from Rhys would make Silas as soulless as the creatures he hunts. How can he keep Rhys safe, without becoming like the very monsters he hunts?
Anna Zabo writes erotic paranormal romance and fantasy. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think. A lover of all things fae, she finds the wonderful and the magical amid the steel and iron of her city.
You can find her online at http:// www.annazabo.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AnnaZabo, and on twitter as @amergina, where you will also find her not-so-secret other identity.
- Loose Id: http://www.loose-id.com/close-quarter.html
- All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-closequarter-997909-139.html
- Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Close-Quarter-ebook/dp/B00A70QRFU/
- Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/close-quarter-anna-zabo/1113901638
Anna has brought a great giveaway with her today! One lucky winner will get a choice of a $15 gift card to Amazon or All Romance Ebooks! Just leave a comment below to win. The contest ends Sunday, September 1st at 11:59 pm EST.
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