For the past few decades, vampiress Erin Morana has mourned the death of her sire, Jon. She’s done her best to move forward, and now she’s renovating the mansion once used by a psychopathic vampire. Between her magic lessons with the mage Lazarus and the anticipation of the birth of her best friend’s baby, Erin has her hands full.
An attack on a dark street, however, changes everything. Now she’s caught in the middle of a fight she has little hope of winning, but she isn’t alone.
She’s never been alone.
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Copyright ©2021 Carys Seraphine
Erin Morana grinned and let her best friend, Dana Reid, into the newly renovated mansion. “Like it?”
Dana wandered from room to room on the ground floor, stopped before Erin, and gave her a tight hug. “Oh, my God. It’s gorgeous. I can’t feel even the slightest hint of Harlan Yates here.”
“You can thank Lazarus and Jessie for that,” Erin said. The mage and his lover had been instrumental in fixing the atmosphere of Yates’ house of horrors.
Dana bumped Erin’s shoulder. “From what I’ve heard, you’re no slouch in the magic department.”
Erin shrugged. “I’m still learning. It’ll take years before I even come close to Jessie or Lazarus, but I love it.”
Dana nodded. She walked up the stairs, exploring more of the house. After their little group of vampires, demons, and mages had destroyed the last of Yates’ followers, Erin set about changing the house into an actual home for donors and vampires alike. She hated the word “coven” and chose to just call the place a safehouse instead. It was the kind of refuge she’d hoped Yates offered, only to find things under his rule vastly different and far from safe.
“Have you claimed a room yet?” Dana called from the railing above.
“Not yet.” Erin headed upstairs and met her friend. “I’ve been sleeping in the library downstairs. Feels too… weird when I’m here alone.”
Dana nodded. “I get that. If Saul hadn’t left his loft to me, I’d join you. Maybe I still will, though. I don’t know.”
“You think Haez will care?”
Dana snorted. “As long as we have our privacy, I don’t think he gives a damn. Of course, we’d need a second room for the baby when he gets here.” Dana rested a hand on her belly. The child was the result of Dana’s previous boyfriend, not the demon she now dated. But after one of Yates’ offspring bit Dana, there was no telling how the child would turn out. Up to that point, Dana had solely been a psivamp, but now she and her baby were hybrids, though, thankfully, he would only need energy. As far as she knew, anyway.
“I’m sure we can arrange that,” Erin said.
The front door downstairs opened, and they both looked down.
“You should keep your door locked, my dear,” Lazarus said by way of greeting. Many thought the mage to be a bit snobbish and coarse, but Erin liked him. He glanced up and waved. “Good evening, ladies.”
Erin smiled and hurried down the stairs. If anyone else had seen the hug they shared, they wouldn’t believe it. Lazarus felt like a father, not the magical mentor he’d become to her. “I’m sorry. Dana just got here, so I didn’t even think about it.”
Lazarus tsked but smiled. “Noted, but please, lock the door at all times.”
“I will,” Erin said. “I promise.”
“Very good.” Lazarus nodded at Dana as she came down the steps. “I believe Haez is returning this evening.”
Dana’s eyes lit up, and she smiled. “I know.” She practically bounced. “I need to go back to the loft before our gig. Then it’s showtime!”
Erin laughed as her friend left. Then she made a point of locking the front door. She turned to find Lazarus watching her. “What?”
“Are you certain you’re okay here alone?”
“I am.” Erin looked around at the place, unable to hide the pride she felt at the work she’d accomplished. “It feels more like a home now, and I’m hoping to find some new people to move in soon. I sleep in the library, but once I get a few tenants in, I’ll claim a room upstairs.”
“Very well,” Lazarus said. “For now, let us return to the kitchen. It’s the best place for practice, more open.”
“What are we going to work on today?” Erin asked as they entered the newly renovated kitchen and dining room.
Lazarus moved the dining table with no effort at all. For such a petite man, the mage possessed an inordinate amount of strength. He set the six chairs aside and nodded. “Much better. Your barriers are strong, but I feel they could be improved. Defense is paramount. Always remember that, my dear.”
For a moment, Erin lost herself in a memory. Jon had told her that very same thing, so long ago. If she’d learned then…
She shook her head and found Lazarus studying her, concern in his eyes. “Sorry.”
“Are you all right?”
She’d never gone into detail with anyone about Jon, not even Dana. She needed Lazarus’ lessons, but her heart and mind were elsewhere. “I…”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carys Seraphine is an alter ego of gay romance author Mychael Black. She lives on the Eastern Shore of the US with her family and their dog.
Carys at Changeling: changelingpress.com/carys-seraphine-a-224