Series: Vampire Tales 2
Author: Alexa Piper
Publisher: Changeling Press LLC
Release Date: April 14 2023
Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex
Length: 119 pages
Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense, Action Adventure, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal, Bisexual/Pansexual/Multisexual, Gay, Sorcery & Witchcraft
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After the events that drew them together, Ethan and Auris have grown into their feelings for one another. On their quest to discover other supernatural beings, Ethan will have to do some healing after the violence he experienced, and Auris, in order to help the man he loves do so, will share his past with Ethan.
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While their relationship deepens, the pair finds something in Prague that they had hoped for but not expected: traces of another vampire. But that discovery brings with it a greater threat and more things between light and shadow they will have to deal with.
Content warning: Overexposed contains brief mention of self-harm and suicide.
Copyright ©2023 Alexa Piper
Auris had not planned a direct flight to Prague. A precaution against any pursuing priests, he’d said. We had landed in Dresden. I’d been in that unhappy state of surviving a transatlantic flight, but since it had been just barely night still, Auris had made sure to get me to the front of the line for my rapid test before his eyes turned daylight silver.
And now, there was a city waking to cold November air, and we were leaving the roofs and tall buildings behind to cross the border into the Czech Republic.
The hum and rattle of the train finally pulling out of the station was a relief after the flight, dry air, and my ears popping, and I appreciated that we had a compartment to ourselves. First class, of course, and we were both masked, Auris because it was now fully daytime and he couldn’t control minds as easily, me because I didn’t have a vampiric immune system.
Auris had left the window seat to me and sat on my right instead of across from me. “You know, Ethan, it harms my self-confidence, this preference of yours to gaze at the outside when you have a perfectly dressed vampire right next to you,” he had told me with exaggerated drama.
“This was… all really easy,” I said after a while. I was watching a bank of fog cling to bony tree branches against the backdrop of a milky pale sky.
Auris put a hand on my knee, squeezed lightly. “I told you it would be. A lesser man might take your surprise as a blow to his confidence. Another blow to his confidence.”
I turned and looked at him, his daylight-silvered eyes and faerie prince features a different sight than the wintry landscape outside. “You mean a lesser vampire. And with the pandemic, I just thought getting a flight would be harder. I thought you’d have to use your vampire entrancement thing to get some Gen Z influencers to give us their tickets. The private plane simply threw me. Also, you’re pretty. I look at you. I’m doing it now.” I pointed at my eyes.
“It helped that you had your passport on you,” he said. “Especially since modern technology is ever encroaching on travel, especially with so many travel restrictions still in place. You should try to sleep a little. You look tired after the flight. I’ll let you look at me to excess once we arrive in Prague.”
I sighed. “Just jetlag. How long until we get there?”
“A little bit over two hours.”
“And is there, I mean, are we crossing another border? And it’s daytime? Is that going to be a problem?”
He smiled at me, folded up the armrest that separated our seats, hooked his arm around me, and then drew me close to him. “It won’t be. We’re in Europe. There’s a very good chance no one will even want to see our passports. You can rest your eyes for a little while, my sweet.”
I sighed and relaxed into him, but I couldn’t quite let go of the day. “Where are we staying? Once we get to Prague, I mean?”
“I own a building in the Old Town, and I keep an apartment in it ready for personal use.”
I smiled, his black suit soft against my cheek. “Of course you do.”
Auris ran a finger through my hair. “I hope you’ll like it. It’s been a while since I visited. You’ll definitely like the Old Town. There are no abandoned places in that city, but I can find you lonely places and places that aren’t lonely but beautiful. The age of the city might lure you better than even I could.”
I craned my neck so I could look up at him. “You really thought about that, huh?”
“Of course.” Something passed over his face, but he smoothed his expression out quickly. But I’d seen it.
“What?” I asked.
His eyes narrowed on me. I wondered whether people could read him or whether his vampire don’t-notice-me magic made that difficult. Then I wondered whether he was just unguarded around me or whether I truly had a knack for interpreting his features, and if the latter, was that because of this love prophecy I still couldn’t bring myself to fully believe in?
“Little worries, Ethan.”
“I took you away. From home, your family, your life. And I care about you greatly, so I worry about whether you’ll thank me for that, down the line. Leaving a life behind like you did, that isn’t a small thing.”
I didn’t respond. Auris hadn’t been fishing for a response, for absolution, he’d just been frank with me.
Instead, I moved until I was comfortable but also able to see some of the landscape outside the window, my back against Auris’s chest, and his slowly beating heart echoing along my ribs and spine.
In my apartment, I kept several collages. Photos of my dad and Ben, his now fiancé, photos of my mom. I had my friends and my life on there, in no order that made sense to anyone but me. In a kitchen cabinet, there was a mug I loved. It had sat on my desk next to me for uncounted hours while I worked. It was black on the outside with white yellow cat eyes and whiskers, white on the inside. It had been so well used that the glaze was beginning to show spiderweb cracks now.
As I sat there in the first-class seat next to the vampire I’d saved from certain death, I slowly, slowly realized that these things were… if not gone, then not the steady mooring that they had been. I was not going back to that apartment or to my studio with the exposed brick and threadbare carpet anytime soon. Likely never. The things that had surrounded me -- some of them to my chagrin during lockdown -- were gone from my future now. There was a slice of blue cutting through the shroud-gray morning sky. I felt like a kite released to the wind.
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Meet the Author
Alexa (she/her) has a lot of characters living in her head and wanting their stories told. Many of these people get snarky and won’t stop complaining if Alexa is too slow writing them, which means that for this author, sleep is a luxury. Consequently, Alexa is a coffee addict, but she is sure she has it under control (six cups of coffee are normal in a morning, right? Right!?)
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