Author: Jeff Erno
Series: Forever Vampire Book 2
Previous book: Forever Young
Genre: Gay Romance, YA, Young Adult, Paranormal Romance, Vampire
Flame Rating: 3 Flames
Cover art: Les Byerley
The Forever Vampire saga continues…
In the aftermath of unspeakable slaughter, Robbie and Colt have escaped to the wilds of Alaska to face their immortal future. Things aren’t so certain for their sworn enemies, Dylan and Issa, Matarian soldiers sworn to hunt them down and slaughter them.
Dylan is poised to begin his first vampire hunt and wants Issa as his partner, but Issa is far more concerned with finding his brother and tracking down the blond boy who nearly died on the battlefield. The entire cast from book one reunites in this thrilling continuation of their story, joined by a host of new faces–friends and foes–whose lives somehow weave together as they cross paths in their efforts to battle evil and attain their own happiness. Humans, Shifters, Daywalkers, and Purebloods confront each other with the guidance of three enigmatic sisters–one a Maenad, one a necromancer, and the other a human witch. Plot twists and surprises mark the paths of these diverse characters, forever fearless in their quest to cling to all they hold dear.
He woke up screaming, as he’d done nearly every time he tried to sleep. The vivid images played in his head like a movie reel. Relentless, graphic nightmares, or more accurately, flashbacks. The doctor said he was suffering from post-traumatic stress, but she didn’t know the half of it.
Local media had covered the story, labeling it a bizarre wolf attack in which eighteen campers had been killed and another two dozen injured. Issa knew the truth. They all knew, all of the witnesses. There’d been a wolf attack, all right, but those were not ordinary wolves. And in the wake of the confrontation, they’d left carnage unlike anything Issa could have imagined. Body parts strewn everywhere, so badly that many of the victims were not even recognizable.
Worse than these gruesome images were Issa’s memories of the vampire slayings. He thought he’d been prepared. He’d learned all his lessons, completed hours of target practice, and had even watched graphic videos. Sure, he knew it would be bloody, and he knew that ripping a vampire’s heart from its chest was no job for the squeamish. Yet, there was nothing that could have prepared him for seeing it all in living color.
If he knew anything with certainty, it was the fact that he wasn’t cut out for the job. He had no desire to ever again see what he’d witnessed that night, and he definitely was no vampire slayer.
Shockwaves had rippled through the Matarian community as word of the tragedy quickly spread. An emergency meeting had been called to assess the losses and to discuss an appropriate response. The devastation affected every Matarian family, but most significantly those who’d lost a young loved one.
Issa knew all of the victims. They’d been his classmates. His sixteen year old classmates. Boot camp was a Matarian rite of passage, one every Matarian child looked forward to. This pivotal juncture provided transition from youthful fantasies of vampire slaying to the reality of actual field work. Completion of boot camp culminated with a graduation ceremony followed by the assignments of the cadets’ first hunts.
But there’d been no ceremony this year. Instead, the entire community gathered for a massive memorial service. Even the successful vampire slayings, normally a cause for great celebration, hadn’t offset the tragic losses.
“It’s a war,” Issa’s father calmly stated, “and people die in wars.”
“Children, Ibrahim. They were but children,” his mother pointed out.
Sadly, Issa knew many in the community shared his father’s sentiments. Rather than giving them pause and leading them to contemplate the senseless killings, the tragedy had enraged them and made them even more bloodthirsty. Talk of revenge already ran rampant, and now a new enemy had been added to the list. Matarians not only fought the vampires, but also the werewolves.
The deaths of Issa’s brethren lay heavy on his heart, yet he did not yearn for revenge. In fact, he didn’t blame the vampires or the wolves. He knew why they’d come. They were on a rescue mission, there to free the prisoners the Matarians were heartlessly torturing. When stormed by an army of battle-ready cadets, they responded, and many lives were lost.
And the tragedy had cut both ways. At least four from the other side had been mortally wounded, a wolf, two vampires, and a human. Issa had heard the jubilant cheers from his fellow Matarian warriors as the vampires were felled, and the memory sickened him. Brendan and Richard were a couple, and they’d loved each other very much. They’d been together for years—at least decades, if not centuries.
To Issa, their relationship didn’t seem so different than what he shared with Dylan. According to the Matarian teachings, vampires were bloodsucking monsters, not even human, and most people didn’t think they were really even capable of love. Driven solely by their hunger, personal relationships were secondary to them. In most instances, they were solitary creatures who existed only for the purpose of feeding. Killing machines, and nothing more.
But Issa knew otherwise. He knew from his conversation with Brendan. He knew because he’d seen how Richard had reacted when reunited with his lover. And he’d witnessed a similar connection between the young-looking vampire and the human—the little blond kid. Christ, he didn’t look any older than the cadets. Robbie, was it?
The vampire was in love with the boy. Issa could only speculate as to what had become of them. Perhaps they’d made it to safety in time, but if so, that would imply Robbie had been converted. Surely, he wouldn’t have survived an arrow through his heart.
Issa didn’t want to know. He couldn’t bear the possibility that the kid, so obviously in love, had sacrificed himself for his lover. And even if he had somehow been saved, he didn’t want to think about what that would mean. They’d be targets. Sitting ducks. The Matarian army was already planning an all-out war, a massive and sweeping retaliatory strike. They were intent upon eradicating all vampires worldwide, once and for all.
But the elders didn’t even know the whole story. Only Dylan and Issa were aware of all that had transpired that night. They were the only Matarians to witness Raoul and Shadi.
“You can’t tell,” Issa had pleaded. “If they find out, they’ll hunt them down and kill my brother.”
“Issa, he’s no longer your brother.” Dylan tried to reason with him. “He’s a Pureblood vampire. He isn’t even human, and he has no loyalty to you or your family.”
“What if it were your brother?”
Dylan took a step back, then slowly nodded. Issa knew how close Dylan was to his brother Taylor. He’d never turn his back on his own flesh and blood, no matter the circumstances. Finally, he sighed. “All right, I won’t tell. But it has to end here. From this point forward, Shadi no longer exists. As far as we’re concerned, he’s gone forever.”
Issa nodded his agreement, but didn’t verbalize a response. He could never make such a promise, not even to Dylan. Shadi was his brother, and Issa couldn’t just pretend he was dead. Though it might not immediately be possible, one day he’d find his brother and they’d have their reunion. In the meantime, he had to find a way to forgive himself for all that had happened. He had to somehow make the nightmares stop so he could go on with his life, so he could concentrate on his future with Dylan.
As he lay alone in his dark room, he thought on these things and stared up at the ceiling. “I’ll find you again, Shadi,” he whispered.