Book 2 of the Orbus Arcana series by Viki Lyn and Vina Grey
Vince hadn’t seen John since the plane touched down in Phoenix a week ago. So he found himself jogging alone. Their usual routine, several laps around Tempe Town Lake, had been a perfect excuse to spend time together in public. They were just two guys out for exercise— innocent behavior. What Vince hadn’t expected was to enjoy jogging so much that he ran on his own.
Vince stopped beside a grassy verge along the lake. Usually pounding the pavement cleared his head and helped him solve problems, but not this morning.
Disappointment with John coursed through his thoughts. Sure, he understood John’s reluctance to come out, but he didn’t have to like it. And there were the other challenges he faced. Serious problems for which there were no immediate solutions. Being a vampire was one hell of a secret to keep from John. So really, could he blame John’s desire for wanting to stay closeted?
The sullen gray of dawn streaked the sky. The dull sunlight didn’t affect him much, not after all these years. It was the intensity of the afternoon sun that caused irritation in his eyes. His powers were formidable, which was why his father had taken it hard when Vince had confessed to the crime that his stepbrother committed, and was exiled to the human world. To King Gabras Kamateros, his son’s power had been a major point of pride. It proved their family had a right to rule the Order of Boreās.
When the Jurisdictio and High Council had asked for Vince’s help as mediator for the exiles, he had negotiated for a return of his full powers. Request granted, and now he was back in favor with his father. Again, he was called by his title, Lord Heir. Even if he hadn’t been publicly reinstated yet, his people knew that was just a formality. The J, in time, would have to capitulate to the King, Council and his people’s wishes, and support Vince as the next in line for the throne.
What a joke.
Since elected to this position, he had been given no reason to mediate. Nothing. The J hadn’t given him the list of exiles, their names or locations. He had been granted an official position with no authority. Was this the J’s purpose, an empty gesture supporting Vince’s return to Orbus Arcana but without the power to make a difference?
At least he had been allowed back in his world.
Vince fantasied about taking John to his beloved Verno. To witness the look in John’s eyes when he first caught sight of the churning sea as storm clouds gathered in dark billows along the horizon, the stark beauty of the snow-shrouded landscape, the cliff-side cave, Vince’s special hideout, the entrance deep behind fir trees. The cave had been Vince’s place of meditation where he absorbed the spiritual atmosphere and the energy of the land, his land calling to him.
In his heart, he knew John would love Verno despite being raised in the hot sun of the desert. On calm days, in what passed for summer in Vince’s world, the water stretched for miles, the undulating waves as azure as John’s eyes.
Vince stretched his left quad over the metal bench, relishing the slight burn. Talk about being stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. The devil, Jurisdictio. He suspected the J had hidden motives for granting him his powers. Not everyone on the J agreed he was the chosen prince. The older judges were manipulative and wily.
He had to be vigilant. If they found out about John…he shuddered and forced his thoughts away before his fangs descended.
And the deep blue sea? John. A human who had no idea vampires existed. He extended his other leg into a stretch. How did you tell your lover you were a bloodsucking vampire?
Hey John, have a glass of 2005 Barossa Shiraz I bought for this special true confession.
By the way, I’m a vampire. A bloodsucker. One of a hidden race feared by humans.
Damned either way. He should have settled for a one-night stand. Some days Angelo’s advice made sense. His friend had warned him about falling in love with a human. But if he had heeded Angelo’s warning, he never would have known the fine man John was; never experienced the searing connection when they made love; never experienced the bone-deep contentment when John nestled in his arms at night.
Vince prowled the cement path in search of a drinking fountain to cool his head. He splashed the tepid water on his face, letting it drip down his neck and onto his t-shirt. Pink-purple-grey swathes mottled the sky. Across the quiet expanse of the lake, the tops of rush hour cars whizzed by on the interstate. A large black object bobbing in the water caught his eye. An odd shape that was too big to be trash.
He leaned against the railing for a closer look. His stomach clenched and he sucked in a breath. A human arm poked out from the black plastic. The two lone joggers who had passed him were no longer in sight. Just him and a dead body. Again.
He suppressed the desire to climb over the ledge and investigate. No way would he touch this body. He knew to.o well what John would say. He tugged his mobile phone from the strap in his waistband.
John, I know you won’t believe this, but I found another dead body. I swear it popped up in my path.
He sighed as he called John’s phone number.
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