Blood Sealed Book 2
It’s not his job or the fact that his maybe boyfriend, Shige, is a vampire. He’s a sensitive-- an ability he’s had since he was small that lets him peek into people’s minds— and it’s gotten out of control. He can’t turn it on and off like he used to. He needs help, and he has to fly to the other side of the world to get it. The catch? Shige’s the only one who can take him there, but things with him haven’t been great. Their relationship is in tatters, and he doesn’t know how to fix it or if it’s even up to him. This is so not what he needs right now.
But Phil’s not the only one with issues. Shige’s got a territory to maintain and a mystery to solve all while worrying about Phil. He takes all this in stride, but when things take a turn for the worst, can he get them both home in one piece?
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Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: Ageless/Immortal
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
The Reef was as warm and homey inside as it had looked from the street. He and Shige had been here once. Phil liked it. He wouldn’t get to enjoy it much this time around with Soldana’s warning hanging over him. But he would try.
Jerome met them with a worried look when they joined the table. “Everything all right? The way Shige ran out of here, I thought I needed to go out there too.”
“I should have explained. That was an old friend of mine. I didn’t know she was back in town. I wanted to catch her.”
“But Phil’s met her?” Jerome asked. “This old friend?”
“It was when I was on vacation at Shige’s. Remember that?”
Phil couldn’t help listening in on his friend’s mind.READ MORE
Jerome remembered that, but he was reserving judgment. At the root of his skepticism was always a kernel of hope. He wanted to believe everything was as it seemed, but it was his duty to doubt when no one else would. He was skeptical every time when Phil spoke of Shige, had been from the very beginning. Now they were meeting in the flesh for only the second time in more than six months, Phil didn’t expect things to be much better.
Jerome slid against Alex’s side and helped himself to the bowl of pretzels on the table. “It’s nice to talk when we’re both sober.” Mostly sober, Phil silently added. They’d had a few glasses of wine at dinner and more was on the way, if he knew his friend at all. “Too bad you couldn’t meet us for dinner.”
Shige gave him a cool smile. “I wish I could have made it, but tonight it just wasn’t possible. Another late night I’m afraid. But I did not come empty handed.” From the vacant fifth chair, he produced two boxes crammed full of Japanese snacks and candies. Jerome shook his box. It didn’t rattle, too densely packed with goodies.
“It seems like every time we try to get together, you’re too busy.”
Shige shrugged, his façade of neutrality firmly in place. “It comes with owning a business, I’m afraid.”
“Mmhmm.” Jerome kept his demeanor all business. “I’ve heard a lot about you from Phil, but I’m sure it doesn’t come close to the actual man. He must have left something out. Tell me about yourself?” They’d gathered under the guise of a social occasion, but there was nothing fun involved in the second half of their evening.
“What do you want to know?” Shige folded his hands on the table.
“Where are you from?” Jerome was starting them off nice and easy.
“Japan, of course. A small town outside Gujo in Gifu prefecture.”
“How old are you?”
“Thirty-nine this month. That’s why we’re taking this trip.”
Shige’s smile frayed at the edges. “Is this an interview for your blog? Or an interrogation?”
Drinks arrived, providing a much needed reprieve from the tension mounting around the table. Phil had tried to prepare Shige for this, but Jerome was relentless.
Jerome sipped at his beer. “Not at all. Phil’s leaving the country with you, and his mother and I are concerned. As the only family he’s got out here, I need to know more than just your name.” In any other circumstance, Phil would have appreciated his friend’s devotion. However, it was making things difficult and uncomfortable. They’d prepared for this. Shige could handle it. But Phil didn’t blame him for not wanting to deal with it.
“So,” Jerome said again. “Your family?”
“Parents are dead. And I’ve got a younger sister and an older brother back home.” Who were also dead.
Shige had been a vampire for around four hundred years. He’d stopped keeping track. He also wasn’t sure when his birthday was. What sense did it make to keep track of it when you didn’t age? He recalled it was in the fall. When they were coming up with this cover story, they thought to hit multiple bases with the reason behind the trip. Visiting family to celebrate his birthday was perfect. It elicited sympathy, empathy. Jerome wouldn’t dig too deeply into it, not wanting to seem insensitive.
“I’m sorry about your folks.” Jerome’s tone lightened in genuine contrition. “It must be lonely not having any family close by.”
“Good friends make it easier. You’ve met Abby. And now I’ve got Phil.” Shige scooped up Phil’s hand from the table and passed his thumb over the knuckles.
That show of affection earned him some points with Jerome. Phil appreciated it too. Things like that let him know their connection wasn’t severed, just damaged. He was certain that was more for him than Jerome.
Jerome’s questioning continued another five minutes before he was satisfied. He was being a good friend, looking out for Phil when he had no one else to, but all it did was stress Phil out. Phil had to take this trip with or without Jerome’s approval. He was glad when the night came to a natural end.
As they waited for their respective rides outside the bar, Jerome took Phil aside. “You had better call me. Every day.”
Phil chuckled. “There’s a seventeen-hour time difference.”
That gave Jerome pause. “You’d better text me then. No less than twice a day. And I’ve got your mom’s number, so if I don’t hear from you, I’ll call her. You know how she gets.”
“Yes, auntie.” That was exactly what Jerome was acting like, an old aunt who was worrying beyond her bounds. “I might not get to every day, but I’ll try it as much as I can.”
“You damn right you will. Now give your auntie a hug.”
Jerome dragged Alex to their car when it arrived. Jerome was going to be more than a call away for a whole month. And those points Jerome had brought up. Phil wasn’t happy about any of it. But no matter his misgivings, this was something he had to do.
Shige came and stood beside him, close but not touching. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”
Phil remembered the last time he’d made such a promise. It hadn’t worked out, though, Phil admitted he had a personal hand in contributing to that failure.
He sighed, trying to shake off the coming onslaught of bad feelings. “You coming by tonight?”
“I have things I need to wrap up before our flight.”
Phil had hoped for a distraction tonight. He would have to go without.
“How is your…condition today?” He always asked when he saw Phil, no matter what, even if he’d asked the previous day. It was a bit much, but Phil could think of a few people who wouldn’t have asked, even if they knew about it. Shige’s concern had him smiling to himself.
“It was acting up in the restaurant, but it cleared up before we ran into Soldana.”
“And how is it now?”
“OK, but I can’t say it’ll stay that way for long.”
Shige clammed up, doing what he did whenever Phil told him about it. There wasn’t much either of them could do. But he listened and didn’t complain or immediately try to fix it. He rubbed Phil’s arms, briefly drawing him in.
“I’ll take you home.”
Shige walked him right to his door. He kissed him as he always did these days—too long to be strangers, but not warm enough for lovers. What the hell were they?
Shige stood there. He was so quiet, looking at Phil with those eyes, so dark and deep. He was shorter than Phil, but what he lacked in stature he made up for in presence. Phil always felt small beside him, vulnerable. He wanted Shige to come in, to take him in his arms, but he continued to stand there. Phil wished he would say what he wanted. Phil had already offered once. Should he ask again just to be shut down?
“I’ll text you before I retire for the day.” Shige shut down any thoughts of reprising his offer with those few words. Phil just nodded before he went inside, closing the door behind him.
Hugo barely lifted his head when Phil came in. “You lazy thing.” What if he’d been a burglar? Phil changed his schedule to the day shift, preferring to be indoors most evening when he now knew creatures roamed the streets. He spent every afternoon with Hugo going to the dog park, which was closer to the new apartment, or jogging. They were both in the best shape of their lives, but Hugo was more listless than ever before. He probably missed Miss Juliet.
Leaving Hugo behind was the worst part of this whole ordeal. He was the one constant in Phil’s day. How could Phil sleep without him? Captain Tate would keep Hugo so busy he wouldn’t even notice Phil was gone. Phil would think of him enough for the both of them.
He coaxed Hugo into the bedroom, and together, they curled up on the bed and slept.COLLAPSE