Philip Beecham is told that his best friend and secret love Stephen Withers died during a holiday in Munich. But one night, when Philip is wandering alone in a nearby wood, he sees his beloved friend. At first Philip believes Stephen is a ghost, but then learns something much more horrifying: Stephen has been turned into a vampire and needs Philip’s help to become human again.
To get back the man he loves, Philip must make his way through this unknown world of bloodlust and undeath and confront the vampire who stole his friend’s life.
Be Warned: m/m sex.
No snow fell that night, but a cold, still sound in the air hung heavy, waiting for permission, it seemed, before letting loose with a flurry of noise. Philip paced along in the paths they had trod together so many times, muttering and singing to himself. Chanting. Writing out loud, he thought at times. His head was as good as any sheaf of paper, if not better.
Since Stephen’s father had told him of his beloved’s last journey home, how many nights had he lain awake, praying for the safe arrival of the ship, wishing the vessel no more of a stressful journey than that of a baby rocking in its mother’s womb? How he had wished he were a holy man so he could bless the ship with all of his power. Even if he were to be part of a pagan sacrifice, he would gladly die for the safe return of his sacred vessel, unto which so many hopes had been kept, and so many tears were wept.
He leaned against a tree and stared out into the thicket of bleak foliage surrounding him. The freezing air surrounded him like a tainted blanket that made him cough and his eyes water.
Horiceville was no university town, and so there would be no hallooing students stumbling drunkenly along the roads. How he missed the noise and turmoil of Oxford.
Walking with arms wrapped round each other’s shoulders, singing and dancing in the streets. Philip—known as Beecham, of course—Withers, the dratted Smith and the simpering Mullins, and countless others, laughing and nudging each other. How often would these images wind their way through his brain before the thing either exploded, or he forgot them completely?
A sharp snap of twigs startled him from his thoughts and he almost sighed. Again. Perhaps he had conjured the noise to feel less alone. What had he been thinking, asking Maria to come with him? Her ceaseless chatter would make her an unsuitable companion for such a solemn place.
He scanned the area and sucked in a breath. Someone had followed him.
He watched, paralysed, as the dark figure came closer and closer. He should run, but why? What did he have to be afraid of? He could carry his 200-pound friend Mullins around the length of a room while their friends cheered for him, and had once given a would-be thief a sound thrashing.
Did Death stalk him now? Had He come for him, as he had sometimes prayed since Stephen had been wrenched from his side?
As if by magic the moon suddenly loomed over the area in which he stood. He stumbled backward but knew not where to go, and so he thunked against a tree trunk, knocking his breath out.
The figure smiled as he stepped forward. “Philip. My dear friend. How lovely it is to see you once again. I thought perhaps I never would.”
Philip shook all over, though he could not feel himself move. He licked his lips and winced at their dryness. He coughed and cleared his throat. He took a halting, stumbling step forward. “Stephen?” he whispered.