Melding Souls

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Brooklyn Ann

Brides of Prophecy, Book 6

ISBN: 978-1090140944

They’re from two different worlds….

 

For months, Beau Thompson, bass player of Rage of Angels and novice mage, has been fighting a secret crush on Artavian Calla, healer sorcerer, and apprentice to the King of Aisthanesthai.

But with a big war coming and a tenuous alliance between sorcerers and vampires to be negotiated, there’s little time to pursue love. Or maybe Beau’s just scared, since he’s only had brief flings.

Yet each completes the other.

As magic returns to Earth and Rage of Angels are recruiting vampires to fight an evil would-be god, the sorcerer and the rock star spend more time exploring their attraction. And together, Beau and Artavian might have the power to save their friends, and maybe both of their worlds, from a returning enemy.

 

Excerpt:

Chapter One

 

Beau Thompson, bassist of Rage of Angels and novice mage, hissed in pain as the bullet was removed from his shoulder. He tried to remain still, but he couldn’t stop shaking. In the last forty-eight hours, he’d endured a road chase involving men trying to murder him and his friends, breaking into the old courthouse to cross a portal to another world, recruiting a mixed army of mages and vampires to join him and his friends in a shootout with a vampire mafia, where he’d acquired said bullet.

Despite all that, Beau couldn’t be happier. Here he was, sitting bare-chested in front of the man he’d been crushing on for months. And his crush was touching him! Okay, only because he was a healer and it was his duty, but still.

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A thousand flirtatious remarks bubbled on Beau’s tongue, but he couldn’t bring himself to voice them. Because even after all these months of covertly drooling over the guy, Beau still hadn’t built up the nerve to ask which way he swung.

Why was he still torturing himself with the question? Every time before, if a man caught Beau’s eye, he’d find a discreet way to determine whether the hottie was possible to pursue as quickly as possible.

But when it came to Artavian Calla, all of Beau’s usual seduction strategies had been thrown out the window. At first, because the day Beau had met him was right after Xochitl had killed Artavian’s former master and collapsed in a coma.

Nightmares of that cataclysmic day continued to haunt Beau. With him, Aurora, and Sylvis joining Xochitl in playing one of their favorite songs, Xoch’ had banished a cloud of despair from the magical world of Aisthanesthai and brought back a sun that had been obscured for four years. At first, the cost seemed too high, with the prospect of losing one of his best friends and being stranded in an alien world.

When Artavian had joined Beau and his bandmates, along with Zareth, Xochitl’s husband, Beau hadn’t paid much attention to the blue-robed mage because he was more focused on whether or not Xochitl was going to live or die. But once they’d returned to Zareth’s tower and Xochitl’s condition had stabilized, Beau’s breath halted when he noticed Artavian’s otherworldly beauty. With waist-length hair the color of mahogany, elfin, delicate features, and glittering blue eyes, Artavian was so pretty that it hurt to look at him for too long. But Beau didn’t even consider feeling the guy out to see if the attraction was mutual. Not when his best friend was in a coma and Artavian was split between efforts to heal Xochitl and establish his role as Zareth’s new apprentice and seneschal. It wasn’t anywhere near the ideal one-night stand situation. And as for something long term? Even less ideal if Beau was looking for that sort of thing—and he most certainly was not. The only long-term commitments he needed was that of his friends, the only ones who’d been there for him when his own family had not.

At first Beau had wondered if it was a wise idea to take in someone who’d served the enemy, but after talking with Artavian, Beau learned that the mage had been traded off to Stefan against his will. Chattel for an alliance.

As far as Beau could tell, Artavian was human, not one of the myriad other magical creatures that inhabited Aisthanesthai. On Aisthanesthai, everyone was magical to some degree. Beau had only recently learned that not only did he possess a spark of magic, he also shared some ancestry with the most powerful creatures known to exist. The luminites. Winged beings that were like a cross between angels and Greek muses, the luminites had reigned in all of the known worlds for thousands of years. They were incapable of fear and truly immortal. Their only weakness? Luminites could only create. They could not destroy. Xochitl was half luminite and yet she’d killed Stefan.

Artavian had been the one to explain these important details to Beau and his bandmates while Zareth was beside himself with grief and worry for his new wife. Art had done enough hand-wringing himself during Xochitl’s coma. “I’ve studied luminites since I learned to read. I’ve studied healing nearly as long, at the risk of my father’s wrath. But I can’t figure out how to awaken the Queen.”

The guy had been so distraught that Beau had pulled him aside, for once not to try to get laid, but to offer comfort.

“Look, man. You’re doing the best you can. And Xoch’ is gonna make it. I feel it deep down.” To his surprise, he did. “Don’t be too hard on yourself.” Beau had led Artavian to one of the comfortable couches in the solar, a sort of living room area in Zareth’s tower. “Tell me more about yourself. Why didn’t your father want you to study healing?”

“Because in Wurrakia, only the women are supposed to use magic and only to heal.” A bitter sneer had curled Artavian’s lips.

Beau had sat frozen in fascination as the mage described a patriarchal culture of knights and maidens and conquest that could have been inspired by tales of King Arthur. But despite the fantastical story, he found common threads of his own childhood with Artavian’s. Expectations thrust upon him that went against his heart and soul.

Zareth had interrupted that first conversation to assign various duties to Artavian, but Beau sought the guy out whenever he had the chance. At first it was simply the pleasure of spending time in the company of a beautiful man that motivated Beau, as well as to determine whether or not it would be safe to flirt with him. But before Beau realized what was happening, he found himself growing close to him, becoming his friend.

And that was the next impediment from pursuing Artavian sexually. Beau hadn’t had a close male friend since middle school. He’d forgotten how wonderful such camaraderie could be. No way in hell did he want Art to turn away from him with revulsion like his last friend. So instead he tried to control his attraction to the gorgeous mage and appreciate the long conversations and exciting exchanges of knowledge between their two different worlds.

Then, Xochitl’s mother, Kerainne Leonine, had walked into Zareth’s tower, back from the dead, because it turned out that luminites didn’t really die. After a terse explanation as to where she’d been for the last four years, Kerainne revived Xochitl from her coma.

Things got crazy after that. Delgarias, a faeling high sorcerer who was Keeper of the Prophecy, alternated between enigmatic smiles as he checked in on them and furtive, frantic whispers with Xochitls’s mom. Zareth decided that it was time to start training Beau, Aurora, and Sylvis in using their magic. Sometimes Artavian and Xochitl got to join the lessons, since they were both Zareth’s apprentices, but not often since they were light years ahead of Beau and the others in training and talent.

With Xochitl recovering, Aurora had noticed Beau’s interest in Artavian and teased him mercilessly.

“I can’t believe you haven’t made a move on him yet!” Aurora had elbowed him before rolling a joint with weed from Zareth’s kingdom. “You’ve never hesitated before.”

“Things are different.” Beau had pointed at the two moons in the sky and then down at Xochitl, who was learning to fly with her newly sprouted wings. “Really different.”

Aurora had shrugged before lighting the joint and taking a hit. “Point. But still, maybe you could at least try a little flirting, see if he responds.”

But Beau didn’t get the chance because Xochitl had figured out how to open portals and had abruptly driven through one with Aurora jumping in after. Zareth had taken Beau and Sylvis back to Coeur d’Alene in pursuit, where they’d discovered that all of their closest friends in their hometown had been vampires all along. While adjusting to that mind-fuck, Rage of Angels also had to deal with a lawsuit for breach of contract for their disappearance which had led to the mafia war.

The fact that there was going to be an even bigger war—with an even more powerful enemy—was not something Beau wanted to dwell on.

Especially when he was finally back in Artavian’s presence. They’d reunited the night before the battle, but Beau hadn’t had a moment alone with his friend until now. Art had been a legend during the fight, running fearlessly into the stream of endless bullets, throwing up shields and carrying the wounded out of the line of fire. Beau had been a mess, dizzy at the onslaught of chaos and bloodshed, trying to focus on shooting the enemy and trying not to rush to Art when the bullets came too close. Ultimately, a bullet had found Beau.

To his surprise, it didn’t hurt right away. His shoulder seemed to collapse, numb in some places, burning in others. Then Artavian had swooped in like Batman, his blue robes flowing in the wind like a cape. He’d lifted Beau carefully, with an effortless strength that Beau hadn’t expected from such a lean guy. Beau’s dizziness increased, but whether it was from the shock of being shot or from the sensation of being carried in Art’s arms, he didn’t know. He could only rest his cheek against the warm velvet and inhale Art’s scent of sweat and herbs. Despite the growing pain in his shoulder, Beau had to fight off a fresh surge of arousal.

Art had muttered some words in the language of magic, and everything had gone black. When Beau had awakened, the battle was won, the surviving mafia vampires had knelt before Xochitl and acknowledged her as their queen, and they were on a bus back to Central Park to go through the portal back to Aisthanesthai.

Now Beau was seated on a cot in the room Zareth had given Artavian to study and practice his magic. The room was cozy, with a warm fire crackling in the hearth, the scent of dried herbs and candle wax permeating the room. Birds chirped outside the window and Beau caught frequent glimpses of them, robins and finches, hopping on the sill as if interested in the proceedings inside.

Another spike of pain drilled into his bone as Art worked the bullet.

“It’s almost out,” Art’s accented voice soothed Beau. “You’re doing very well.”

Instead of surgical pliers, Art was extracting the bullet with some sort of magnetic wand. The energy of the thing hummed in Beau’s teeth and raised the hair on his forearms. But that wasn’t nearly as unnerving as the sensation of the bullet squirming against his muscles and tendons. Beau didn’t risk looking down at the procedure. Instead he focused on the face that haunted his dreams and thoughts for months. The potion Art had given him helped too, giving him a haze of euphoria and a floaty distance from the gory operation.

At last the bullet popped out, accompanied by a gush of wet heat from the wound. The metallic clang into the tray that Art held below Beau’s arm echoed in his ears like Aurora’s cymbals.

Beau almost tipped over on his side, but Art grasped him by his good shoulder, steadying him before he went to work on the wound, cleaning it with a bubbling, stinging solution that reminded Beau of hydrogen peroxide, only this stuff was blue and hurt a little less.

“I’m going to seal the wound now,” Art’s voice went low and hypnotic. “I need you to remain still and quiet. It may feel strange.” His eyes met Beau’s, crystalline in their intensity before darting away. “Ah, you may hold my hand if it gives you comfort.”

“Fuck, I hate stitches,” Beau tried to keep his voice light. But hell yes, he’d hold Art’s hand. It could be the only chance he got.

“I’m not going to be stitching you,” Art said, his voice suddenly husky. “I’m going to do something else.”

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Brooklyn Ann