First, I wanted to offer my gratitude to Amber Kell for allowing me to be a part of her celebration, as well as wish her a very Happy Birthday!
Secondly, I guess I should introduce myself. I’m Arden Steele, and I write both contemporary and paranormal M/M romance. To find out more about me, including a list of my available titles, check out www.ardensteele.com.
In the spirit of giving, I wanted to offer a little something to everyone! Just click the link to get your FREE copy of my short story, Only You. (Please note that signups for my newsletter are appreciated when claiming your free book but are completely optional.)
And now, without further ado, I give you Asher Dare and Cameron Stone. If you want to read more about them and find out where it all started, check out the beginning of their story in Flirt. (Side note: the third and final book of their trilogy will be releasing next year!)
Copyright © 2020 by Arden Steele
Darkness had settled over Mission Grove, blanketing the sleepy, Texas town in shadows. The music, laughter, and conversation from the boardwalk across the lake had faded away, leaving only the frogs and crickets to serenade the night. A singular streetlamp outside the two-bedroom bungalow filtered through the slats in the blinds, casting skewed rows of amber across the hardwood floors.
Seated on his worn, but perfectly comfortable sofa, Cameron Stone flicked aimlessly through the channels on his television. Finding something to watch might have been easier if his attention hadn’t been constantly drawn to the clock in the corner of the screen, the numbers mocking him as they silently inched toward midnight.
It was tradition, and it had been ever since he’d first left home for college. Even when he had to wake up at an ungodly hour for work, he still stayed up every year on this day until the clock struck midnight—the official beginning of his birthday.
Precisely after the clock changed over, his phone would ring, and his mother would be on the other end of the line, always the first to wish him happiness and good fortune in the coming year. Then, she’d pass the phone to his father, who usually interspersed his congratulations with some tidbits of “dad wisdom.”
It was something Cameron looked forward to every year…until now.
“Happy Birthday to me,” he muttered under his breath when the display finally showed twelve o’clock. Picking up his cell phone, he held it ready, waiting for it to ring. And it did. Right on time. Sighing, he connected the call without really looking and brought the phone to his ear. “Hi, mom.”
“Nope,” came a familiar yet unexpected voice. “I’m hijacking her call this year.”
“Asher?” Cameron sat up straighter, all traces of weariness gone.
Warm, rich laughter drifted over the line. “Of course, it’s me.”
“Hey, Ash.” Cameron couldn’t help but smile at the edge of cockiness in Asher’s voice. “How are things going there?”
He’d known from the beginning that he would have to share Asher with the world. Such was the price of being in love with a successful author who had more than a dozen bestsellers under his belt. Even if that meant Asher was in California, on the set of the film adaptation of his latest mystery novel, instead of home for Cameron’s birthday.
“Everything is fine, but I don’t want to talk about me. It’s your day.” His tone took on a more subdued quality. “Tell me what you’re thinking right now.”
“I miss you,” Cameron blurted before Asher had even finished speaking.
“I miss you, too.” There was a long pause, then, “Hey, I got you something.”
“Oh?” All he wanted was Asher, but the guy was trying, so he did his best to feign enthusiasm. “Something from the movie set?”
“In a manner of speaking,” Asher said around another chuckle. “It should be there. Check your front porch.”
Cameron looked over his shoulder toward the windows that bracketed the front door, his brows drawn together. It was far too late for a delivery, but then again, it wasn’t the most outrageous thing Asher had ever done.
“Okay, one second.” Taking the phone with him, he made his way to the door, unlocked it, and pulled it open. “What exactly did you—”
His voice cut out abruptly, the last word still stuck in his throat as he gaped at the man standing in the circle of light cast by the porch lamp. He was dressed casually—well, as casually as he ever was—in fitted jeans and a lightweight shirt the same color blue as Cameron’s eyes. He looked tired, and maybe a little thinner than the last time Cameron had seen him, but the smile on his face seemed to light up his entire being.
“What are you doing here?” The last he’d heard, Asher had another three weeks left in Hollywood before he could return home.
Reaching across the threshold, Asher grabbed him around the waist and pulled him into a crushing hug. “You really didn’t think I was going to miss your birthday, did you?” With a finger under Cameron’s chin, he tilted his head up for a hard, heated kiss. “I love you.”
Being with Asher meant fame and fortune were forever a part of their lives. Cameron had no interest in fame, but the lifestyle suited Asher. As for fortune, he enjoyed living comfortably, but he’d give it all up just to be in Asher’s arms. That was all the fortune he needed.
“I love you, too. I’m glad you’re here.”
“Me, too.” Taking his hand, Asher led him into the house and closed the door quietly behind them. “It’s good to be home.” Then, he caught Cameron up in his arms again and planted another kiss on him that made his head spin and his knees tremble. “Happy Birthday, sweetheart.”
Night and Fae
Blackhaven Manor, Book 2
Colorful and eccentric, Leelan Rivers knows he’s a little too “extra” for some people. Since those people are exceedingly boring, he couldn’t care less about their opinion. Yet, when a night out leads him right into the arms of fate, he never expected the broody vampire to deny the connection between them.
Wealthy and powerful, Sebastian Delgado is used to people wanting things from him. He’s not even surprised at the lies they’ll tell to get them. So, when Leelan claims to be his mate, he’s skeptical to say the least. Leelan might be beautiful and enchanting, but Sebastian has been disappointed too many times in the past not to be suspicious.
All it takes is one bite to reveal the truth but claiming Leelan comes with its own set of problems. Especially when he realizes he’s not the only vampire at Blackhaven Manor interested in the faerie.
Free with Kindle Unlimited
“No need to play hard to get. You know you want it, or you wouldn’t be dressed like that.”
While true Leelan had been hoping to attract someone to take back to his room for the evening, that didn’t mean he lacked standards or self-respect. “I really think you should leave.”
Too fast for his eyes to follow, the vampire reached across the table, grabbing Leelan’s wrist and squeezing it roughly. “I think you should be nicer—”
“Now, now,” a smooth accented voice interrupted. “Is that any way to behave?”
Leelan’s eyes rounded as the most gorgeous specimen of male he’d ever seen stepped up behind his date and wrapped a hand around the back of the vampire’s neck. Dressed impeccably in a tailored black suit that molded to his broad, muscular frame, the stranger looked like he could have stepped right off of a runway.
No visible tattoos marked his tawny skin. He had no piercings, wore no jewelry, not even a watch. His dark hair was cut short and styled in a conservative though fashionable side part. While not really the type Leelan usually went for, he still somehow managed to embody every wet dream Leelan had ever had.
But that wasn’t why he couldn’t stop staring.
“Get your fucking hands off me,” the vampire growled as he struggled against the hold on his nape.
The new guy stroked the side of the male’s neck with his thumb. “Even a limited vocabulary doesn’t excuse poor manners.” As he spoke, his thumbnail grew, lengthening nearly two inches before ending in a sharp point. “Now, apologize.”
While he spoke calmly, danger practically radiated from his very being. The vampire must have felt it, too, because he subsided in his chair and lowered his head in obvious submission.
“I apologize,” he mumbled.
Leelan’s rescuer smiled then, revealing long, lethal-looking canines. “Not to me, fledgling.”
The guy seemed far less inclined to offer Leelan an apology, but he eventually lifted his head just enough to meet his gaze. “Sorry.” He winced when the sharp claw dug into his skin. “I’m sorry for being such a dick.”
The other vampire—Leelan was pretty sure the newcomer was a vampire as well—turned his dark, penetrating stare on him. “Well, it wasn’t very eloquent, but will that suffice?”
Leelan nodded numbly.
“Very well.” Releasing the younger male’s neck, he grabbed the collar of his tank top instead and dragged him to his feet. “Off you go.”
The guy wasted no time getting the hell out of there, and honestly, Leelan really couldn’t blame him. That had been simultaneously the sexiest and most terrifying thing he’d ever witnessed.
“Thank you,” he blurted. “For, well—” He waved his hand vaguely toward the exit. “—you know.”
“Of course.” Lowering himself into the now vacated seat, he reached across the table with another of those oddly chilling smiles. “Sebastian Delgado.”
Leelan took the proffered hand and shivered as a jolt of electricity raced up his arm from the contact. Distracted by the sensation, as well as the misty haze of pure golden light that surrounded the vampire, he lost all train of thought.
He knew he should say something, but by the fae, he couldn’t even remember his own name. Everything in his brain had been shunted to the side, allowing just one word to repeat on an endless loop.
Thanks for letting me entertain you for a bit! Before you go, don’t forget to grab your FREE copy of my short story, Only You. (Please note that signups for my newsletter are appreciated when claiming your free book but are completely optional.)