Monday, October 2, 2017

Day Two!

The month of treats continues! And one of today's instant giveaways is my book, Old Sins, Long Shadows, which is book two in the Children of Night series.

This is one of my favorites of my books, and the reason is the chemistry between my heroes, Conrad and Damian. Their reconciliation should probably have happened later in the series, but I couldn't make them wait any longer. Here's an excerpt I very rarely share, it's part of one of my all-time favorite scenes. Enjoy!

“Stop dropping your guard!” Damian scolded with uncharacteristic harshness. He’d coaxed Julie into
fencing with him, in hopes a little swordplay would help him expend some of the pent-up frustration he’d
been left with following his interview with Conrad. It wasn’t working, however. The girl was proving to be
far too timid an opponent for his needs. “Focus, chica. You’re too distracted tonight.”

Julie huffed out an angry breath. “Pot, meet kettle,” she snapped and Damian knew he couldn’t refute
the charge.

“Again,” he sighed, annoyed with them both. He was distracted, damn it, but how could he not be?
Ever since the morning after the party he’d been waiting for the other shoe to drop. He knew he’d pushed
Conrad too hard. It had been madness to taunt him. It was foolish and dangerous…and yet, Conrad had not
reacted in any of the ways Damian had come to expect. Quiet, subdued, forgiving, restrained; this was not
the vampire Damian knew and loved. Fool that he was, he suspected he might actually prefer a Conrad who
shouted and growled and made his feelings plain. At least then you knew where he stood with him.

You mean at least you thought you might tempt him to lay his hands on you in anger, an evil voice
inside his head insisted. Since you can’t get him to do so in any other way.

That was probably true as well, but if so it was of an order of idiocy beyond anything Damian had
sunk to in a very long time. And that was definitely not something he wanted to dwell on.

He froze for an instant when the door to the gym opened and the object of his obsession appeared.
Fabulous. Just what I need. He and Julie both stared at Conrad in surprise. As far as Damian knew, this
was the first time he’d been to the gym since his abduction—a good sign, surely. It was just Damian’s bad
luck he’d chosen to show up now.

“Have you come to work out?” he asked, trying hard not to stare. After all, it was hardly the first time
he’d seen Conrad dressed so casually. Even though his current outfit—yoga pants and fitted T—left little to
the imagination, he’d also seen him in far, far less. He should be inured to the sight. Still, it had been a
Conrad shrugged. “It’s a possibility. I haven’t decided yet.” He glanced around vaguely, then took a
seat on one of the weight benches. “Go on with what you were doing,” he urged, as he picked up a small
barbell. “Don’t let me disturb you.”

Dios mio. Damian sighed. As if it had ever been possible for him not to be disturbed when Conrad
was anywhere in the vicinity. Still, the attempt needed to be made. For the sake of his pride, if nothing else.
He nodded to Julie and they began again—only to be interrupted almost immediately.

“Julie, you’re holding back,” Conrad observed, after Damian had scored another easy point off the
girl. “Push him a little. C’mon, you can do better than that.”

Damian bit back a growl. The one area where Conrad had mostly treated him as an equal was in the
care and training of the twins. It didn’t matter that they were in agreement, in this case, Damian still did not
need—or appreciate—Conrad’s sideline coaching.

“Again,” he growled, noting with sympathy how Julie’s jaw had clenched, the flush that colored her
cheeks. Of course she would be flustered and embarrassed with both of them harping on her like this. How
could she not? He could barely bring himself to offer any additional instruction himself, at this point, lest
she feel herself completely browbeaten.

They sparred for several minutes more and all the while Conrad, his own workout forgotten,
continued to volunteer advice. It was obvious he had misconstrued Damian’s silence as an invitation to take
over the lesson. Finally, Damian could take no more.

“Stop!” he ordered.

Julie’s eyes flashed. She glared at him, clearly exasperated. “What now?”
Damian ignored her and turned instead toward Conrad. “Do you really think you’re that much better
at this?”

Conrad appeared momentarily startled. “At what?” he asked cautiously.

“All of it! The fencing, the coaching, the sword fighting.”

“Sword fighting? Is that what you call what you’re doing?” Conrad’s eyes glimmered with
amusement. “Well, as to that, I should hope so, my dear. After all, I do have quite a few years on you. I
daresay I could still teach you a few things.”

“Do you? Bueno.” Damian motioned to Julie. “Hand me your foil.”

“What?” Julie’s eyes widened.

“Your foil, chica. Now.”

She handed it over reluctantly. Damian took it and executed a courtly bow. “And now, if il Maestro,
would be so kind. Perhaps you’d favor us with a small lesson?”

A disbelieving smile curved Conrad’s lips. “Are you saying you wish to fight me?”

“Unless, perhaps, you fear it would be too strenuous for someone of your advanced age?”
Conrad frowned. “No, I believe I can still manage it.” He rose to his feet. “Although it might prove
embarrassing for you.”

“I’ll risk it,” Damian replied, promptly hurling the foil at Conrad’s head—tip first—not overly
concerned with whether Conrad would catch it, or it would catch him. A moot point anyway, since Conrad
easily dodged and spun and caught hold of the hilt as it flew past.

Julie scurried away to sit on one of the benches. Conrad approached, idly swishing his blade through
the air. A fell smile curved his lips. “Very well. Now, what am I wagered?”


“It is customary, is it not? Or am I mistaken? Did you not just issue me a challenge?”

“I did. But why waste time now on details? Let us just say that the winner may demand from the loser
whatever boon he wishes.”

“Rather a useless victory,” Conrad observed coolly. “Is it not? As your sire, I’m already entitled to
ask for whatever I want from you.”

“Ah. You’re assuming you’ll win, then?”

Conrad’s answering smile was so engaging Damian might have had serious trouble resisting its
attraction if he weren’t so angry. And if Conrad didn’t compound his anger by replying with insufferable
confidence, “But, of course.”

“Don’t,” Damian advised, getting quickly into position. “En garde!”

 Living forever is hard. Loving forever? Impossible.

Of all the mistakes Conrad Quintano has made, driving Damian away is the one that haunts him the most. He hates the fact that 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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