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Story excerpt from Xander's Reluctant Mate.

Story excerpt from Xander's Reluctant Mate by Alex Carreras now available for pre-order at Siren Bookstrand.


Xander Jakande knew it was time to feed. His gut ached, and his muscles cried for sustenance, but his mind screamed its reluctance.

He doubled over and reached out in search of anything that would help him from toppling onto the cold, dark, shadowy street. Finding a wall, he steadied himself by taking in a few deep breaths.

Not too much longer.

An elderly woman approached dressed in black from head to foot, her walk nothing but a shuffle. “Señor, are you all right? Can I get you help?” she called in Spanish.

Telling himself to stand up straight, he nodded and forced a smile. “I am fine, señora. Just a little too much wine with my dinner. I’m not much of a drinker.” His credible excuse sounded more like an apology.

“Are you certain?” She stopped and ran a dubious eye over Xander, her head held high, alert and aware.

“No worries.” He dared a step, dropped his hand, then took another. “Thanks for your concern, but it is me that should be concerned for you. It’s too late for a woman of your age to be out walking these streets. Go home and lock your doors.”

“Have no concern for me, young man. I have lived on this street my entire life and know every crack and crevice.” The woman arched a slim, silver brow. “And if I was to die tonight on this very street, I would meet my maker with a clear conscience. Would you?”

I am already dead.

Xander released a chuckle. “I would indeed, señora. I would indeed,” he repeated. “Good night then.” He walked past the old woman, sensing her watery, gray eyes watching him. Wondering.

But why can’t I read her thoughts?

It had started slowly at first, one person out of every fifty or so, then with more frequency.

Since turning into a vampire, the gift of reading thoughts came to him quickly before any of his otherworldly powers. But now, he struggled, especially before feeding. Unlike many other vampires, he would only drink from those who wanted to die, mostly addicts wondering if their last injection would be the one to release them from their horrid and desperate existence. He’d never wanted to kill a person in their prime, healthy, happy, and strong, although his less moral cohorts boasted of their sweetness, sustaining them longer and making them even more powerful. Xander wouldn’t do it because he had been killed in his prime. But it was too late to rehash the past. Beside, he’d done that enough, lately.

Unable to read the minds of those he hunted made feeding a little…tricky. He couldn’t listen for their unrelenting pleas for death, their pathetic cries begging for rest. He could only guess.

Sure it was easy to tell who the junkies were. Their empty eyes, zombielike gait, shallow breaths reeking of sick and disease were the more common telltale signs. But the insecurity of killing someone, murdering them for his insatiable need to feed was too much. Xander had killed in cold blood before, more for price than pleasure. But that had stopped. He was going straight. He couldn’t be that anymore. He wanted to be like his brother, Leandro, and the other members of the Fraternidad from here on out. He vowed he would be a good, kind, but still vengeful vampire, fighting to keep their city of Zaragoza, Spain safe from vampires much like he’d been.

“Had been,” he mumbled under his breath, fighting the urge to vomit. “No more.”

Stumbling, he regained his footing before brushing into a young man holding an unlit cigarette between the fingers of his right hand. “You have a light?” the young man asked, his voice flat and lifeless.

Xander lifted his head and stared into two endless pools of blue. The color of the young man’s eyes was foreign and unfamiliar, but the look of death that surrounded his pitch-black pupils was not.

Time to drink.

The young man lifted the cigarette to his lips and mimed the act of smoking. “Do you have a light?” he questioned, this time speaking more loudly than before and slower, as if Xander couldn’t understand what he was asking or didn’t speak his language.

“Haven’t you heard?” Xander returned. “Smoking kills.”

The young man dropped his hand to his side. “So I’ll take that as a no then?”

Xander nodded, trying his best to read his thoughts. Nothing. He was blank. No messages. Not a damn thing.

Standing this closely to the young man, his slim, muscular body, with the thick, ropey veins jutting from his neck and forearms, screamed to be tasted. But I have to be sure, Xander thought. Or he would be no better than his mercenary brothers and the Romani, the ancient Romanian clan that was trying to overtake the city, turning it into their own personal feeding ground and slave market.

He had gone in front of the Fraternidad, with the help of his brother, Leandro, and his lover, Jose, practically begging them to allow him to join in on their fight. A few members proved reluctant due to his suspicious past, but Emerico Espiritu, Leandro’s closest confidante, placed his own reputation on the line asking them to give Xander a chance, a chance he desperately needed if he wanted to continue repairing his fractured relationship with his brother and wash away his past sins. He wanted those things and more, more than his immortal life itself.

“Marcos,” the young man offered, shifting his weight from hip to hip and running a hand through his thick, raven-black mass of hair in need of a wash. “I don’t believe I’ve seen you on this street before.”

“I’m new to Zaragoza. Haven’t been here that long.”

“Are you lost? Because you seem to be a little…disoriented?” Marcos asked, his gaze unrelenting. “Or are you looking?”

“What would I be looking for this time of night on this street?”

“Anything and everything, if you looked hard enough.”

“Is that what you’re doing?” Xander’s cock started to rise and strained against his underwear.

“Me? I’m just looking for a light.” He paused and licked along his bottom lip. “But if you have any suggestions, I might be persuaded to change my mind.”


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