I’m changing it up for Snippet Saturday. This comes from my current WIP which is untitled (I just call it Vampires and Sorcerers right now). It’s set before the novel I was posting, Dark Goddess, which means I have to overhaul that one to include more characters from this one so they fit together better. Anyway, it’s a gay paranormal romance set in modern times. Enjoy!
Tristan Clearwater was a beautiful man. Dark brown hair set against pale skin, gray-blue eyes that almost looked silver when they caught the light, a lush mouth with a full bottom lip. Really, it was ridiculous how beautiful he was, and, sitting behind his desk, twirling a pen between his fingers, Sebastian was so distracted by Tristan’s beauty, he almost missed what Tristan said.
No. Not almost. He had missed what was said, a fact he only realized when the silence became pronounced and a look of uncertainty came into Tristan’s eyes.
Sebastian cleared his throat and dropped the pen on the desk with a muted clatter. He shifted in his seat and sat up straighter. “I’m sorry, what?”
“It’s a book,” Tristan said. He seemed to glow in the dim light of Sebastian’s shabby office, which was filled with old books and dusty statues and talismans that were waiting to be picked up by clients. Normally, Sebastian thought his office cozy; Tristan made the faded edges obvious.
“What’s it called?” Sebastian picked up the pen again and sat, poised to take notes.
“The Magic of Music. It’s about…”
“The magical powers of music?” Sebastian said dryly.
Tristan nodded. “The convergence of the two, the theory behind it, and some rudimentary lessons. It’s very rare, you see. Only a few copies left in existence.”
“Do you know who wrote it?”
His face fell. “No.” He shook his head. “I only ever heard of it. Overheard, really. My father and teachers discussed it a few times, in hushed tones, in the other room.”
Sebastian lifted his eyebrow. “Your father?”
“Yes. I studied magical music theory as a child. My interest has been… piqued again recently.” He smiled, but it was forced and wan.
Sebastian scribbled a few lines on the paper, and then said, “Let me guess. You’re interested in increasing your fortune. Or seeking fame.”
Tristan shook his head.
“Trying to get a girl?” At Tristan’s wry look, he amended, “A guy?”
A smile curled the edges of Tristan’s lips, and he looked down at his hands, then up almost coyly. “Nothing like that.” Then, the coyness dropped away and he straightened his shoulders. “I can do magic. A little. Music helps me control it.”
“You’re a warlock?”
His eyes widened in almost a panic. “No, nothing like that. Nothing that formal. I don’t want to overstate my abilities. Merely… lighting a candle, conjuring an object. Nothing grand.”
Sebastian nodded and made another line on his notepad. “So, you’re looking to become stronger.”
“No!” He swallowed and took a breath. “No. I seek only to understand the theory and gain a modicum of control. That’s all.”
Bullshit. But Sebastian didn’t say it out loud. Even if he couldn’t smell the acrid tang of deceit, Tristan’s body language screamed it. However, Sebastian didn’t really care. A job was a job and magic was hard to master without a teacher. Besides, if the man ever did become a threat, Sebastian would just kill him.
He reached into his desk and pulled out a contract. “This is my flat fee, plus I charge for expenses. Depending on how hard it is to find, and what I have to do, I can invoke this clause, which increases my fee.”
Tristan paled, but nodded. “Very well.”
“I also seal in blood. You or I can still back out at any time, but it means you can’t stiff me on what’s owed.”
He smiled faintly. “I understand.”
Sebastian slid his pen across the desk.
Tristan ran his eyes over the text swiftly before picking up the pen to sign. “What now.”
Sebastian rose and went around the desk. “Your wrist.”
He hesitated, then held out his arm.
Sebastian looked into Tristan’s eyes and let his fangs extend. Taking the offered arm, he bit Tristan’s write and retracted his fangs.
A rush of blood flooded his mouth. And a shock went through Sebastian.
Power. There was an electric current of power that made his mouth tingle. He’d never tasted anything like it. Sweet and tangy. Delicious.
A bit more roughly than he’d intended, he pulled Tristan’s wrist from his mouth. He brought it down and pressed it against the contract.
The paper flared gold. Sebastian felt a shudder go through him as the bond was sealed.
“It’s done.” He turned Tristan’s wrist over again. “Would you like me to heal you, or would you like to heal on your own.”
Tristan pursed his lips. “Heal me, thank you.”
Sebastian scraped his thumb over his fang to draw blood. Vampire blood acted as a coagulant, but it wasn’t considered polite to do it without permission. Vampires also tended not to heal any wounds that they hadn’t made, unless they were either very close to the person or the situation was extreme.
Carefully, he swiped the blood over the holes in Tristan’s wrist. He may have rubbed his thumb over Tristan’s write a few more times than strictly necessary, but who was to know?
Tristan swallowed hard and looked up at Sebastian.
Sebastian gave him a small smile. “I’ll keep you updated on my progress.”