Death by Starlight

Edge of Night 2

by Alexis Duran

Death by Starlight - Alexis Duran
Part of the Edge of Night series:

Ian and Zeke fought a battle against the queen of the dark realm in order to be together, but just when they think they might settle into as normal a life as elves living among humans might be able to expect, a new enemy threatens to tear them apart. While Zeke helps the shaman Alistair in his hunt for an elusive mermaid, Ian is called to confront a wicked nymph preying on tourists along Seattle's waterfront. Zeke and Ian soon discover that the defeated Queen Ysolde has spread her evil into the sea realms, and danger lurks beneath every wave, but it is too late to stop an escalating series of confrontations that lead to disappearances, death and the possible end of light in this world.

As Ysolde plots revenge and a mysterious prince seeks to win Ian for himself, the ancient war between light and dark sweeps Ian and Zeke into its maelstrom of hate, testing their trust of each other to the utmost.

As the ancient war between light and dark reignites, a mysterious prince and an evil sorceress attempt to tear Ian and Zeke apart, sweeping them into a maelstrom of hate that tests their trust in each other to the utmost.

Publisher: Loose Id
Cover Artists:
Pairings: M-M
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: Ageless/Immortal
Tropes: Cultural Differences, Fated Mates / Soul Mates, Star-Crossed Lovers
Setting: Seattle
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters

Chapter One

The skyline of Seattle reared up in a blaze of lights, metal, and chrome. Overhead, traffic clattered and roared across the Freemont Bridge, headlights and taillights a stream of silver and red. Ezekiel Stormshadow narrowed his eyes to dim the effect. After so long in the dark realm of the svarta, such a garish display stabbed into his brain, contrasting painfully with the comfortable shadows of his homeland.

Standing on the edge of the Ballard Locks, he breathed in the mix of gasoline fumes, fresh-cut grass, and a slight hint of saltwater blowing in from Puget Sound. A row of houseboats creaked and bobbed in front of him.

By the position of the moon in the partly cloudy sky, he guessed it was nearly midnight. The date was a murkier thing to calculate. He’d roamed the dark realm for several nights, but time passed differently here in the world of humans, and he suspected he’d been gone much longer than a week or two.


A tiny prickle of concern brought a scowl to his face. He wasn’t used to giving a second thought to what anyone might think of his comings and goings, but he knew Ian would be worried. Although Zeke’s bond with his lover was strong, Ian’s powers weren’t steady enough yet to track Zeke through the dark realm. Even if they were, Zeke wouldn’t allow Ian to expose himself by keeping open a connection. The dark realm was still full of creatures who wanted nothing more than to destroy Zeke’s half-human, half-elfin lover. Zeke wasn’t too popular himself.

Zeke hunched his shoulders, shrugging off the cool, damp air. The world of humans was colder, brighter, more porous and open to whatever might fall out of the sky than the underground realm of the svarta. For a moment Zeke was tempted to slip back into the hot, enclosed world he’d just emerged from, but that urge was quickly swept away by an overwhelming need to see Ian, to hold him, touch him, and reignite their bond after being apart for several long nights.

He’d dampened his connection with Ian in order to protect him, but now that Zeke was back, his body vibrated with desire. Suddenly the air wasn’t so cold, and he opened his long leather jacket, letting the breeze ruffle his silk shirt. Only Ian could quench the smoldering, scalding heat that threatened to consume him.

First things first.

He couldn’t go traipsing straight to the house he shared with Ian in the Freemont district. First Zeke had to sever the last clinging tentacles connecting him to his people, the svarta of the dark realm. Ian could help Zeke do it, but Zeke wouldn’t risk creating a trail, however faint, to Ian. Alistair, an obscure and second-rate shaman, wouldn’t attract the attention of power-starved svarta like Ian did.

Alistair lived on a thirty-foot sailboat that looked about as seaworthy as an old shoe. Next to the charming, lovingly maintained houseboats berthed alongside it, Alistair’s boat faded like an oil spill on the water: rolled sails dingy, hull crusted with barnacles, portholes obscured with mysterious netting. Much of Alistair’s magic went toward keeping his boat unnoticed and undisturbed among his gentrified neighbors. He was an expert at hiding in plain sight, and that was what Zeke needed now. Alistair wouldn’t welcome Zeke’s unexpected intrusion, but few humans could resist an elf’s persuasive charms.

Alistair’s boat bobbed at end of the line. The shaman had somehow motored his dilapidated boat to this place after discovering the space beneath the bridge concealed a portal through which magic flowed. This was where Zeke and Ian, with the help of Ian’s friends, had finally defeated the dark queen Ysolde.

Zeke hopped easily onto the deck of Alistair’s boat without causing any disturbance in its subdued rocking motion. He carefully stepped through piles of junk to the little door closing off the main cabin. Brushing aside a sturdy but simple guarding spell, he opened the door and descended the few steps to the cramped quarters below deck.

Alistair slumped over his little table, cheek pressed into the open pages of a large book. A bottle of rum with an inch of dark liquid remaining in the bottom sat by his head. Zeke quickly imagined a dozen or more tricks he could play on the snoozing shaman, his taste for mischief stronger than ever after his time in the realm.

Once again the urgency to reunite with Ian trumped all distractions. Zeke walked bent over to avoid hitting his head on the low ceiling until he reached the end of the cluttered berth where he presumed Alistair slept when he didn’t pass out at the table. He sat gingerly on the lumpy quilt within poking range of the shaman and commenced staring.

Alistair had the compact build and tough, weathered skin of someone who’d lived in the far north, dodging polar bears and harvesting icebergs for a living. Although he was ancient by human standards, strands of black hair were still woven in among the gray. His eyeballs were busy behind twitching lids, fingers clutching sporadically at the table where they rested.

Zeke leaned forward and whispered in his ear, “And then the leviathan rose from the depths and swallowed your little boat whole.”

Alistair gasped, grunted, and snorted, eyes flying open.

“Gaaaa!” he shouted, sitting up straight. “Holy Mother of Night, where did you come from, you sneaky bastard?”

“Through the front door. You’re going to need to up your game if you insist on parking on the steps of a portal.”

“Eff you, elf. I’m doing just fine here, thank you very much.” Alistair pushed strands of hair out of his face and grabbed up the bottle. He took a big swig, sloshed it around in his mouth, and swallowed. “What the hell do you want?”

“Good to see you too, Alistair.” Although Alistair had helped save Zeke’s life, they’d never exactly warmed up to each other.

“Don’t butter talk me, svarta.” Alistair belched and took a daintier sip. “So you didn’t get snatched and murdered on your little jaunt? Ian’s been beside himself, you know. Three weeks is a long time to be traipsing through the shadow lands with no contact.”

“Three weeks?” A knot of what Zeke suspected might be remorse formed in his chest. “I would’ve sworn it was only three or four nights.”

“Never heard of a watch or a calendar down under, have you?”

“Never mind that. I’m here now and I need your help.”

“And what would a dark elf need from little ol’ Alistair?” A spark of interest flashed in the old man’s green eyes.

Reviews:Heloise West on Velvet Panic wrote:

I loved Betwixt and Between, so when Death by Starlight came up for review, I jumped for it. The author has a down to earth style that sparkles and shimmers in all the right places, lighting up like fireworks at the very end.

Zeke and Ian are going to make the Big Commitment; for a number of reasons this is needful, but more than anything, because they want to. Nothing for these two, elf of dark and elf of light, is ever going to be easy. Light and dark magic need each other, and they both have the potential to overwhelm or cancel each other out.

Not only this, but a good friend disappears, an old enemy re-appears, and a crazed elfin prince has plans to keep Ian for himself.

I love this author’s imagination and skill, from the magical, emotional, and erotic nuances of the romantic pair, the details of the underground world of the svarta, the remote and glacial world of the liosa, and the characters that support or thwart them. Highly recommended!

About the Author

Alexis Duran was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. At the University of Oregon, her fascination with people and relationships led her to major in Sociology, but her main love has always been creative writing. She's worked in museums, finance, film production and for several performing arts organizations. Her favorite job so far has been inventorying the collection of a haunted Victorian Mansion. She is the author of the Masters and Mages and Edge of Night m/m fantasy series as well as several stand-alone romances. Her fiction has won awards including the Rupert Hughes Award from the Maui Writers Conference. She lives with one dog and four and a half cats. She is currently working on the next Masters and Mages novel and always has several new ideas brewing.