Of all the mistakes Conrad Quintano has made, driving Damian away is the one that haunts him the most. He hates the fact that’s he’s hurt the man he loves more than anything. For the sake of the twins, though, Conrad and Damian parent as a united front, a challenge that grows more and more difficult with each passing year. And with Conrad in his weakened state after his kidnapping, it grows more difficult than ever to be around the one man he can’t have.
But an old enemy’s mission to create a dangerous new breed of vampire threatens the twins’ lives, and it’s now more important than ever that the estranged lovers put the past behind them, or everything they hold dear might be ripped apart.
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This excerpt starts off with Conrad remembering the girl he met in the last excerpt I posted. lol! Then Damian and Marc arrive and things take a more comedic turn…
Conrad lounged on the dais at the front of the ballroom, watching while his family and their guests enjoyed themselves. Once he might have joined them. Now he sat apart in hopes the outward change in behavior would allow the far greater changes within him to go unnoticed; just as he hoped the tolerant, amused expression on his face would mask the hunger that raged beneath the surface. The scent of blood hung heavy in the air. It called to him. But he didn’t trust himself to slake his thirst with any of the humans present. He feared his venom was yet too caustic for the attempt. Even more importantly, he feared he’d lose control.
Unfortunately, the effort to distract himself from his hunger by observing his children at play was not improving his mood. All he could think about was the last costume party he’d thrown here—and the woman who’d won his heart.
Ah, Mignonne, how I wish you could be here tonight.
Despair threatened to overwhelm him. He closed his eyes to hide his grief. Tonight, he felt every bit as ill equipped to keep his promise to her as he had forty years ago. If only he’d chosen differently when she’d asked him to turn her. If he’d waited, if he’d said no, how very different these last forty years might have been. How very different he might have been.
But, on the other hand, how much he might have missed…
“Don’t tell me you’re already so bored with the festivities you’ve fallen asleep?” Damian asked in chiding tones.
“Of course I’m not asleep.” Conrad opened his eyes to find that both Damian and Marc had joined him on the dais. His brow creased as he took in Damian’s appearance. “My dear, what is that you’re wearing?”
Damian smiled and pirouetted in place. “I know, it’s fabulous, isn’t it?”
Fabulous not being one of the words Conrad had had in mind, he said nothing. Damian’s long hair had been piled atop his head and affixed there with the aid of some kind of stick. He was dressed in a floor length toga that fastened over one shoulder and left half his chest completely bare.
“I really think I captured the essence of the role. Wouldn’t you agree?”
What role would that be? Conrad wondered as he finally succeeded in tearing his gaze away from the gold ring that glittered so enticingly in Damian’s exposed nipple. Flaunting forbidden fruit in a man’s face was a move guaranteed to sour anyone’s mood—and his had been bad enough to start with. He shifted uncomfortably. “You look ridiculous.” Besides the toga, Damian had wound a long silk scarf around his neck. The ends fell over his shoulders and trailed behind him in his wake. That, and the elaborate lacquered fan he carried comprised his entire ensemble. It all added up to nothing comprehensible. Or, at least, nothing Conrad could ever recall having seen before. “And is there a particular reason why you’re not wearing shoes?”
“Well, of course I’m not wearing shoes,” Damian snapped. If Conrad didn’t know him better, he’d swear Damian had been hurt by his censure. “Honestly, Conrad, did you never see Isadora Duncan perform? She always danced barefoot. Everyone knows that.”
Isadora Duncan? Conrad studied Damian’s appearance once again, confusion giving way to grudging respect. The costume was a testament both to Damian’s genius and his rather morbid sense of humor. It gave the impression he had nothing to hide, all the while providing coverage in exactly the right places to conceal the damage Conrad had done to him over the years. The scars on Damian’s shoulder, neck and back were completely hidden. Only a handful of people knew about any of them. Only Conrad and Damian himself knew the whole truth about all of them. “I detest costume parties. You know that. I don’t know why you insisted on it anyway.”
“It’s Halloween.” Damian sighed as he reclined beside him on the chaise. “So of course it had to be a costume party. What else would you expect?” He lifted his eyes to Conrad’s face, gazing at him with every appearance of devotion. From a distance, his performance was flawless. Only Conrad was close enough to note the hint of malice in his glance. “At least I’m attempting to get into the spirit of things. Unlike some people. Or do I misjudge you, querido mio? It is quite a nice tuxedo you are wearing, after all. Could it be Bella Lugosi has failed to return your cape? But for that, I suppose you make a perfect stage vampire dressed just as you are.”
“Very funny.” Refusing to rise to Damian’s bait, Conrad turned his attention to Marc, who was dressed in an uncharacteristically severe black suit and tie. “And what is it you’re dressed as, my dear?” At least he was reasonably certain it was a costume. Surely the dark glasses and bobbing, green antennae indicated as much.
Marc smiled. “I’m one of the Men in Black.”
Conrad hid his confusion behind a polite nod. “Ah. Of course you are. Well done.”
Damian sighed. “It’s from a movie, Conrad. Which you might know if you ever went anywhere. The Men in Black hunt space aliens.” He turned to Marc and smiled. “Bravo, chico. It’s nice to see you’re finally learning to laugh at yourself. I assure you it’s a very useful attribute to possess and very well worth cultivating.”
Conrad nodded in agreement. For years Marc had seemed obsessed with the theory that vampires had evolved from some form of extraterrestrial life. It had grown tedious. “Yes, indeed. As I said before, it’s very well done.”