Authors: A.J. Llewellyn, D.J. Manly
Series: Banpaia, Book 2
Genre: M/M Romance; Vampire; Dark Fantasy
Price: 2.99 USD
Cover art: Louca Matheo
Feng and Russell have made a life together in LA’s Chinatown, except that Feng has no memory of the centuries-old vampire, the imperious, mysterious Banpaia, who abducted then returned them and dozens of other men to their everyday lives.
Feng had fallen in love with Banpaia, who also fell in love with Feng, only to allow the man he’d chosen to be his life mate to return to earth and try to live a human existence. As Feng’s happiness and very life force ebb away each day, Russell is growing stronger. He remembers the great vampire and uses his memories to great manga. Time may be growing short for an increasingly despondent Feng unless he can remember his one true love and go to him willingly, before the next Halloween…
The dream always started the same way. He saw himself as a little boy, standing on the lapping shorefront of a beach as waves crashed around his ankles. Even in dream, he could feel the deep chill of the foamy water as a little girl beside him blew bubbles into the air. Holding his toy sword aloft, Feng Li ran through the water, chasing the bubbles and hacking them in two, breaking the shimmering shells of rainbows the perfect spheres had formed. The first night he’d dreamed it, he awoke in tears, wondering who the little girl was. His feelings for her, his desire to connect had been the closest he’d come to feeling anything in months.
Now he knew she was his cousin. He longed to touch and talk to her. He needed to know why they had been separated…only now the dream kept going. The bubbles he burst left tears. Tears of blood. They fell on his cheeks. He heard voices whispering.
He waits for you.
Who waited for him? He loved Russell, his best friend turned lover, but since the strange incident of Halloween almost a year ago, he’d felt so disconnected and isolated from everyone else. He, Russell, and several friends of theirs had all vanished into another realm. When he returned, he could see and taste, think and feel, but he was invisible to others. Especially, his abusive parents. It had scared him at first and even now he didn’t fully understand because he’d slowly regained his ability to communicate, to be seen and heard. It didn’t feel so good, though.
It didn’t feel right.
“Aren’t you happy? Russell always asked him. “Isn’t it just great to be alive?”
Not really. At the age of twenty-three, Feng hovered between misery and apathy, but never let it show. He caught glimpses of another time and place. A man…
When Feng thought of him, his heart filled with joy, inexplicable wholeness that kept him buoyant for days. He turned in his sleep, aware of Russell’s even breathing beside him. Good. He was asleep.
Feng returned to the dream, seeing drops of blood falling from the bubbles his cousin had blown and he had destroyed. The blood fell on his cheeks and down to his feet.
Feet. He suddenly became aware of dancing feet. A row of women in beautiful, long, pale green dresses with over-sized sleeves began dancing and singing in front of him. Their moves were so graceful but so often extended it looked as if they might be marionettes on the verge of falling. The music was whimsical, their steps entrancing when he caught glimpses of them under the sweep of their gowns.
His gaze flew up into the face of a beautiful young woman. He knew her. And she knew him. With each swirl of her long sleeves, she aged before his eyes.
Who was Mrs. Wei? He searched his memory. It was just there. Just out of reach. He knew she was dead. He knew he missed her. He begged her not to leave him. For the second time in three nights, his heart, his feelings of love were coming back to him. He knew he missed Mrs. Wei dreadfully.
And then he remembered, he’d found her dead body. In life, she’d been a famous ta ge dancer as a young woman. Then she’d aged. Her movements as he watched were graceful and gorgeous. She was no longer in pain. She charmed and touched him. But how did he know her?
The woman and all those around her formed a pattern like petals, their skirts billowing with slashes of crimson as they danced in small, tight circles. They sang like angels.
Mrs. Wei stepped forward. “You must return to him. You must remember. You must go back. His sacrifice is too great. You must return when the ghost flower blossoms.”
“No!” he yelled as one by one, the women popped and disappeared, small rainbows on his soul. He heard their voices still singing in perfect harmony. Tears ran down his cheeks. Don’t leave me. Tell me what to remember! He longed to shout this out, but the words stuck like dry rice in his throat.
He awoke suddenly, realizing this song was on the radio. Disappointment shook his bones. She had been real. She had loved him. He was certain of that. And what the heck was a ghost flower?
Warm hands moved over his belly and chest. Russell. He’d been so closed to the man for weeks now. He tried not to stiffen as Russell kissed the back of Feng’s neck, nuzzling him. He tried to relax. He loved Russell, really he did, but it had morphed into a different kind of love.
Halloween was only days away. He wondered what had happened to Ki, the man he’d had a crush on until he met…met…whom had he met? He drew a blank.
Russell was hard and obviously excited because he was humping Feng’s ass cheeks now, his glistening cock head beating an insistent tattoo against Feng’s crack. Feng didn’t want to sigh and bit down on the urge, in spite of his feelings of restlessness. He was surprised how wet Russell was, his cock leaking before they’d even started.
Giving the guy head was less intrusive than taking him up the ass. In the past, Feng had loved getting fucked. The sounds and smells of early morning sex inflamed his soul, giving heat to his dormant fantasies.
That’s what it was! How could he have forgotten? His mind had dried up since his return. It was a desert of the soul. No dreams, no idyll. He could give Russell what he wanted in exchange for information. Feng turned around swiftly, one eye on the time. Six-forty in the morning. The red lanterns of LA’s Chinatown which swung high outside their windows were still alight, giving Feng a sense of comfort. There was something about them he knew he should remember.
He just didn’t know what.
Sex would be over in fifteen minutes. Russell always took very cold showers with salt-soap and birch branches for exactly three minutes each morning. Then he walked over the cobblestone path to the old Chinatown Square to the comic book store he’d taken over almost as soon as they’d returned from their strange sojourn a year ago.
In decades past, it had been a ginseng store and the smell still permeated the old quarter. Sometimes, Russell pretended their journey to the other side never happened. Sometimes, he remembered a lot more than he cared to admit. Feng knew this because Russell, who’d longed to be a manga artist had caved in to the god of money and worked a ‘necessary’ job instead of following his passion.
Once he came back, he pursued his art, literally. He’d started producing graphic novels that were frankly, very weird. In them, Russell seemed to pine for a place, some…sanctuary. Hey, maybe they weren’t so different after all. Russell’s comics were about Russell, a boy, who lived in a fantasy world.
He once told Feng that his inspiration had been Feng himself. But Feng couldn’t remember being in a fantasy world. Ever. And he remembered nothing of his life before he died.
Died? What made him think that? The idea didn’t panic him…it just seemed…unreal. And of course, it was. Except that lately Russel’s comic books reflected more and more glimmers of what had happened to them in their adventures on what Feng had begun to think of as the other side.
He moved around so his mouth captured Russell’s cock in one, long, fluid motion. Gazing up to watch his lover through his half closed eyes, Feng saw the look of surprise on Russell’s face. Feng had been so disinterested for weeks and now, he knew, Russell was ecstatic.
“Oh, baby,” he said, threading his hands through Feng’s hair.