Genesis Sage is on the verge of becoming a superstar as the singer of rock band Evolution. While Gene tries to play at being normal, he’s far from average when he is plagued by nightmares, ghosts, and a creepy sense that something big is about to happen that isn’t related to his music career. When Gene runs over his idol—literally, Kerstrande Petterson, rock god, music critic, and vampire in hiding, he discovers there is something more he needs in his life than just music.
Jaded by a decade of the music business as life transformed as a vampire, Kerstrande thinks Gene wants to use his fame to make the band truly immortal. Except there is something about Gene that draws Kestrande in, more than the voice of a legend, or blood that smells like the sweetest wine. Gene’s chaos is a storm that calms Kerstrande’s demons, at least for a little while.
The collision between the two sets them on a course of power struggles, vampires out of control, media bias, rogue bandmates, and a devouring darkness awakening with a hunger for Gene’s soul. Can they forge a future together when fate itself seems determined to keep them apart?
Note: 2nd edition rerelease, two novels in one, Evolution and Evolution: Genesis
- 3 To Be Read lists
- 1 Read list
Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Languages Available: English
I got into my Honda, revved the engine, and took a sip of the coffee Joel, my bandmate, had given me. It was about as bad as coffee could get. Brown water. Hopefully the crud had some caffeine in it. The concert I had played sucked the energy right out of me, and I desperately needed the get-up-and-go.
I tore into a bag of M&M’s with one hand, dropped the contents onto the opposite seat, and began to pop them into my mouth one by one as I headed home. The clock on the dashboard read nearly 3:00 a.m., so it was just after ten. Someday I’d get the wiring fixed so I could reset the clock. Hell, maybe someday I’d have enough money to buy a car that set its own damn clock.READ MORE
At least the streets were clear. Late nights in New York City weren’t as wild as the TV made them seem. Or maybe it was just that I lived in the crappy part of town. My own building could have been on the list for most likely to be condemned. Homeless filled the area with their little carts of trash and cardboard houses. Barely a step above them myself, I couldn’t pass judgment. Most guys my age still lived at home, so I couldn’t complain much. It had felt right to move out, especially when I dropped out of high school. Passing the GED made me feel like I wasn’t a total loser, but since I wasn’t planning on going to college, I couldn’t justify mooching off my mom any longer.
The dark, empty streets had a lulling effect. I had to get home before sleepiness took over and the real spooks came out to play. I pressed the gas a little harder, wondering vaguely about the article in today’s paper. Some people from an organization called Preservation Group had set some vampires on fire, the seventh attack this month. The teachers in school had never talked much about the group, but the people setting the fire had been kids in their midteens. Guys like me. Well, I guess, not like me.
I wasn’t dead or undead, but the hate group didn’t seem to have many boundaries it wouldn’t cross. Straight, Christian, white folk maybe, but I was none of the above, being Asian American, Buddhist, and gay. If that didn’t put me on their radar, the whole “seeing dead people” thing would. Never mind the fact that when I slept I dreamt of graveyards and a girl who seemed to linger between life and death.
Sighing into the night, I hoped for a peaceful trip home to my cat, Mikka.
Somewhere between the entrance to the highway and the back streets to home, a flash of someone in a white shirt bolting in front of the car made me slam the brake to the floor. I jerked the steering wheel to the left, but overcorrected, nearly sending the car into a spin. M&M’s hit the dash with loud pings, tires screeched, and scalding brown water poured into my lap. I lost the brake and accidentally hit the accelerator while trying to counter steer out of the spin.
The headlights beamed on a man’s astonished face just seconds before I hit him. He rolled up onto the hood. My foot found the brake again, throwing me forward in the seat. The man slid off, lay stunned for a moment, and then sat up slowly. The lights glared into his face, his eyes hidden in the dark. Blood dripped from his scalp.
My whole world stood frozen for that moment. I could barely breathe. My body was stuck in limbo, eyes blinking, heart racing, mind paralyzed in fear.
Finally, the panic gave way to adrenaline. I slammed the gear into park, leapt out, and rounded the car to look at my victim. Crap, my victim. I’d hit someone with my car. If my heart could beat any harder, I was sure blood would come rushing out of my ears.
“I’m so sorry,” I told the guy. He couldn’t have been much older than me. “I’ll call 911.”
From this angle it didn’t appear to be all that bad. The blood trickling down his face already began to slow, and he just seemed dazed. His body didn’t look all twisted and broken like you’d think someone who got hit by a car would be. He was, however, wearing a dark coat and a long black duster. Not a white tee.
I glared back at the main road where I’d seen someone run in front of me before the accident. If that had been a ghost, then I’d just wrecked my car and almost killed someone for no reason. Sometimes I wished spirits just had flashing signs over their heads saying “already dead.”
“What the hell is your problem, kid?” The injured man struggled to get to his feet. The blood at his temple flowed a little faster with the added movement. The glass of the windshield hadn’t shattered, for which I was grateful, but he still looked a little worse for wear.
“You shouldn’t move.” I tried to get him to sit back down. He looked pretty unsteady and gripped my arm to keep upright. “You should sit before you fall over. Let me call for help.”
“You weren’t going fast enough to squash a bug. What kind of idiot drives on the sidewalk? Were you trying to kill someone? Would you like to get in your car and back over me a few times?”
At least he was talking. That meant no punctured lungs, right? What did those doctor TV shows always say was bad? Head trauma? He had that. He stumbled, but I caught him. “Did you see anyone else on the street?” I had to ask. “Like someone in a white shirt?”
“Just you. And I’m pretty sure yours is pink.” He grabbed a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and lit one. The smoke pooled in annoying rings around my head. He relaxed against me, forcing me to take the brunt of his weight. Since I was always the small guy in the room, that was harder said than done.
“It’s orange.” I flipped out my cell phone to dial the cops. “Just relax, mister. I’ll call for help.” The phone barely rang before he had his hand over the receiver, taking the phone away. What the hell? “Let me call for help. You could be seriously hurt.”
“Only my pride.” The heavy glare of headlights made his eyes dark with shadows. “I’m the one who got hit by a car, but you pissed your pants. Is that why you were on the sidewalk? Trying to make it to the bathroom in time? They make a pill for that.”
“It’s coffee! I thought I saw a man in the road, swerved to miss him, and the coffee spilled!”
He tilted my face up toward his. I could smell the smoke on his breath and the blood from his brow. “You don’t smell like alcohol. And your pupils are normal, so no drugs. You could do with a little less glitter and eyeliner. See invisible things often?”
I pulled away, letting him lean against the car, irritated by the tone of his voice. Even now, when the supernatural had become the norm, people still insisted on hiding their heads in the sand. Most of the world was made up of those kinds of people. Not my problem, at least most of the time. This guy was probably one of those.
“Get in the car. I’ll take you to the hospital.” I got in the driver’s side, waiting for him to move. The car still ran, even though it had body-sized dent in the hood.
The guy stared in my direction before nodding slightly and getting into the passenger seat. As soon as he closed the door, I was racing toward the hospital at top speed. He gripped his seat belt. Red highlights in his hair reflected color each time we passed a streetlight. I must have glanced his way two dozen times.
“Stop! Just stop the car! You’re going to kill us both.”
I stomped on the brake. Inertia threw me forward in the seat and made my passenger growl. I let the car crawl its way over to the curb until I could park it out of the way of other vehicles. Only when I cut the engine and took my hands off the wheel did he let go of his seat belt and sweep his fingers swept through his hair—long fingers, like those of an artist. I wondered briefly if he’d get mad if I turned on the inside light so I could look at him. But he was glaring at me. The heat of his gaze made my shoulders tense even in the darkness of the car.
“What?” I finally asked.
“You have pink hair.”
“You’re a guy, right? Or an ugly girl with no boobs.”
“Guys can’t have pink hair?”
“Not can’t. Shouldn’t.”
The dig stung, especially since I’d attempted to dye it red that morning, but the pink was what I’d ended up with. “I change it all the time. Last week it was yellow. I’m a musician, a singer. It’s a music thing.”
“It looks stupid.”
I should have been angrier. Sadly, I sort of agreed, but I didn’t have the cash to buy another box of dye to change it until next week. “That’s a crappy thing to say to someone who’s trying to help you.”
“You hit me with your car. A shitty car, at that. Did you buy it at the junkyard? I’m surprised it runs.” He flicked the butt of his cigarette out the window and ran his fingers through his hair again. “You never answered my question.”
“What question? My car came from a neighbor, not the junkyard.” Though, in truth, it was junkyard material.
An attempt to light another cancer stick failed when his lighter wouldn’t work. He searched the dash for the car’s lighter, but I had thrown it away years ago. “I so need a smoke.”
“You should let me take you to the hospital.”
“I’m not due for a lobotomy yet.” He sat in silence for a bit, staring out the window, then said, “I asked if you often saw stuff that isn’t there.”
The sigh escaped me before I realized we were back to that topic. “No. Everything I see is there. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.”
The silence came back and lasted probably five minutes, feeling more like an hour, before he moved, getting out of the car. “Get out.”
“Why?” I gripped the steering wheel. Being left out in the middle of nowhere without a way home was a very real possibility, and one I didn’t want. Not even in payback for hitting a man with my car. Getting set on fire or beaten to death ’cause I was different suited me even less. He didn’t look like the Preservation Group type, but did anyone really? Guys like me knew when to stay inside, and after dark was one of those times. I’d been shoved in enough lockers and toilets to know better. And those things were mild compared to what I read about in the papers every day.
“’Cause I don’t want to die tonight. Give me the keys.” He came around the car and stood at my door as I opened it. I left the keys in the ignition. The man motioned to the passenger side. “Get in or I’m leaving without you, kid.” He folded his tall frame into the driver’s seat and adjusted its position.
“Genesis,” I said as I slid into the car on the passenger side. “My name is Genesis. My friends call me Gene.” The man stared at me again. I wished I could see him better. “What?”
“I don’t care what your name is.” He leaned over, yanked the seat belt across my shoulder and over my chest, then buckled it.
My cheeks felt hot. “Thanks.”
“Whatever, punk. Who names their kid Genesis? Hippies?” The man started the car, obviously not wanting a response. Soon we’d left our makeshift parking lot and downtown behind. I didn’t tell him where I lived, and he didn’t ask.
“Are you hijacking my car?”
“This piece of crap? Good idea. I bet I can get $200 for it at the junkyard. But I’ll have to push you out. Wait, let me speed up.”
I laughed, because his sarcasm was obvious. Why couldn’t I have met someone like him in high school? I might have stayed. He was snarky and good-looking in the dim light of the car. One of the many reasons I’d left school was because I was different. Not just in seeing things, but in who caught my attention. I’d been beaten up half a dozen times, shoved into lockers, even half drowned in the pool. Most of the time, just being me sucked. Now, sitting in the car close to a guy who could have been the star of some hit teen miniseries, I was thinking maybe being me wasn’t so bad, even if he only spoke to me for a few minutes.
Then there were the other things I saw, like the crazy colors that surrounded people, called auras. Only this guy had no colors—he was just dark. Odd. The darkness still shadowed his eyes in an eerie sort of way. “I can sing for you. Devon says my voice helps chase away the shadows sometimes.”
“Who’s Devon? Your boyfriend?”
“Lead singer of Wild Park. My band opened for them last night. They’ve sold a couple million CDs. They’re more mainstream than we are, kind of pop. Gotta get your breaks where you can, you know.” I paused to study the black edges around his eyes again. “Devon’s got shadows too. Like the ones around your eyes.” The adrenaline was beginning to wear off. “I don’t have a boyfriend at the moment. And my hair is pink ’cause I tried to dye it red, but it didn’t work.”
“Yeah, the hair screams gay.”
“Got a problem with queers? Or are you an asshole to everyone?”
“Only to guys with pink hair who try to run me over.”
So, everyone. At least he wasn’t a ’phobe. “I’m sorry. Stuff like this always happens to me.”
He raised a brow and glanced my way. “You run people over often?”
“Not that. Just stuff.” Between the ghosts, the shadows, and the other crap I saw, something weird was always going on in my life. “I was just trying to get home ’cause I’m tired. Stay away from the shadows and stuff.”
“Doesn’t everyone have shadows? The whole light-reflection thing?”
“Not the same kind of shadow. Devon’s move. His don’t like me much. Yours are dark like that too.”
“So you see shadows, like a living type of shadow, on me right now, when there’s no light.”
“Yeah. Can you see okay? They cover your eyes.”
He paused and glanced my way with a strange look on his face. A heavy wave of sleepiness poured over me. “You look tired—you should sleep. You’re so not normal. Seeing things that aren’t there. You should sleep.” The guy’s voice faded away abruptly as sleep carried me into vague dreams.
I don’t know how much time passed before I felt the bed shift beside me and wondered how I’d gotten home. The fact that I obviously wasn’t alone didn’t seem all that worrisome for some reason. Odd, since I wasn’t the kind of guy to bring strangers home, but my brain was a little foggy, so I wasn’t concerned.
A warm body curled up beside me, feeling slightly wet, like just from a shower, and smelling like the outside after a bad rainstorm. I opened my eyes but just saw a shadowy face in the dark close to mine. The moment was sensual and intimate, even though I couldn’t see him clearly.
His lips brushed my cheek, planting small kisses all over my face until finally dipping down to lick at my collarbone. The firm body nestled against mine gave me the confidence to reach forward and touch back. His hair was short, but long enough to grip, and had a slight curl. It felt thicker than most, but product-free and slightly damp. I traced the smooth expanse of his hot, sculpted flesh while his lips found my mine. He could kiss, and I’d never imagined a kiss could be so sweet.
One of his hands tickled my spine, stroking down my vertebrae as though he were counting them. Each touch made me pull him closer for more contact. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t see him. His warmth felt good, the closeness so heavenly I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. How long had it been since anyone touched me like I was human and not some freak?
Something in my brain told me we were right together. As the slow torture of warmth built and built, wave upon wave, we rocked against each other like we were all that was left in the world. His arms were wrapped so tightly around me I could barely breathe, and that was okay. I could go into the final darkness after a moment like this—let rebirth take me into the next life with one last, amazing memory.
I closed my eyes as his lips found my neck again, this time nipping with a slightly painful sting of teeth. My soul took flight into a blessed state of near unconsciousness.
I wanted to feel him fly away with me, wanted to celebrate the heat of him on my skin and his willingness to hold me. But the encounter seemed to end as quickly as it had begun, leaving me in a waking dream. The loneliness of sleep took me back to where sensual reruns of the encounter circled in many exciting twists.
It had been an unexpected night. I’d never been hit by a car before, and it had hurt more than I thought it would. A couple of broken ribs and a crack in my skull weren’t that big of a deal. My sire had done worse. Those sort of things just took time and blood to heal.
The kid had been easily fooled. Must not know many vampires.
Genesis. Who names their kid after a book in the bible? He couldn’t be some sort of religious freak, not with that pink hair, orange jacket, and the purple eye shadow over his large amethyst eyes. Everything about him screamed gay, from the crazy multicolored hair to the bright blue shoes with mini rainbows colored on them.
I’d been out looking for food, only to be rewarded with a fairy pop princess. He sang? Odd, since his voice was pretty deep for a guy so flamboyant. He was probably into techno or some other bullshit.
Felt good, though. Responsive little thing came alive in my arms and never pushed me away once. Even when I bit him. And sweet Jesus, he had tasted like heaven.
I drank a little too long. Should have pulled away sooner. But how long had it been since I’d actually enjoyed a feeding? In fact, had I ever before?
Anya’s bloody, lifeless eyes flashed through my memory. Yeah, I’d never enjoyed it before. Just because I was a monster didn’t mean I had to like playing the part. I had to eat to live. I got that. Had it ingrained the hard way, unfortunately, but still hadn’t made peace with it.
Only now, while I watched the kid, hoping his fast breathing would even out, I realized that maybe, just maybe, there was more to being a vampire. Maybe I had to drink from flaming musicians to satisfy the craving. If they all gave me peace like this one had, I’d stalk a whole city of them. I could read the headlines now, probably write them myself: “Pretty Queer Boys Everywhere Run Scared from Vampire Stalker.”
I laughed to myself, wondering where the levity had come from. The kid’s breath settled, and he fell off into REM sleep. Maybe I’d given him a good dream or two, even if he’d only been half-awake. Now that he seemed to be safely sleeping and not dead, I lay back to let myself drift off, thanking my fortune for an easy meal and the first company in months.COLLAPSE