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I am absolutely humbled by the enthusiasm I've received about this book. In thanks, here's a bonus excerpt!
*** Bonus Excerpt***
Razvan’s footsteps echoed as he paced through Akasha’s shop. He lit his pipe and the smell of cherry tobacco mingled with the old oil and grease, reminding him of a bygone era. Isuzu, Akasha’s seal point Siamese watched him contemptuously from his perch atop a Stingray Corvette. At least the feline didn’t growl and hiss at him anymore.
Akasha rolled out on her creeper, the little light above her safety glasses nearly blinding him. “Would you stop pacing? It’s driving me batshit.”
“I apologize.” He halted and sat on one of the stools. It wasn’t like him to behave so nervously.
She flipped up the glasses and lit a cigarette before sitting up and rolling her shoulders until they made a cracking sound. “It’s okay. I had no idea you’d become so attached to this baby.”
He glanced back at the dark blue Charger on the jack stands. He’d inherited the car after Akasha’s mentor had been murdered. Razvan hadn’t known that Max liked him all that much. Yet the Charger had been bequeathed to him along with the words, “that son of a bitch needs to learn how to drive.” A lump filled his throat. “Of course I’m attached to it. Not only is it my first car, I inherited it from a great man.” Before he got overly sentimental, he inclined his head at her ‘73 Roadrunner on one of the lifts. “I wager you are pleased to be working on your own car.”
Akasha grinned. “It’s about damn time. Car d’Lane is only a week away, and of course everyone and their dog wants their car done at the last minute. I’m sorely tempted to say no to anyone who’s a daywalker.” But she never would and they both knew it. She loved working on older cars.
Razvan nodded. That explained the surplus of classic cars taking up every lift in the shop, relegating his Charger to mere jack stands. Every June, the townspeople polished up their classic cars for the annual car show. Akasha always drove her Roadrunner in the cruise down Sherman Avenue. Jayden would ride with her. Razvan and Silas would have to wait until dark before they were able to informally show off their cars.
Akasha broke into his musing. “Dude, you look really distracted. It’s more than just the car. Are you nervous about the wedding?”
“Somewhat,” Razvan confessed. “Jayden has already planned so many details that I’ve lost count. I hope I don’t do anything to ruin it.” He took another draw from his pipe. “But mostly I’m worried about Radu. I swear I can sense him getting closer.”
Akasha nodded. “That makes sense. You’re twins, after all.” A line of worry formed between her brows. “Do you really think he’s going to be hostile?”
“I don’t know.” Razvan sighed. He remembered the utter wrath and fury in his twin’s eyes the last time they’d seen each other. Razvan had been holding Uta, Radu’s mortal lover in his arms. He’d accidentally broken her neck from shaking her in anger. Radu had burst in the door right after. Then they had fought bitterly until they’d been forced to flee from the dawn. Razvan hadn’t seen him since.
So it was indeed likely that Radu would try to kill him. Yet Razvan still wished to see him again. The absence of his twin felt like an amputation. For better or worse, they needed each other.
Not wanting to elaborate, he rose from the stool and approached his car. “I must thank you again for making room for me in your busy schedule.”
“No problem.” Akasha crushed out her cigarette in one of the ashtrays scattered around the shop. “It’s better than having your driveline fall out in the middle of the road. I still can’t believe Max didn’t keep an eye on those U-joints.” She bent and picked up her ratchet and tapped it against her palm as she continued. “It’s also in dire need of a tune up, and I want to change the leaf springs, give it an alignment, and…”
Razvan shook his head. “Are you trying to bankrupt me?”
“No, I’m trying to keep your car in good condition,” she said sternly, tapping the ratchet harder on her hand. “Owning a classic car is a big responsibility, you know.”
A drop of something flew from the socket on the ratchet and landed in Razvan’s goatee. Immediately, the most foul odor invaded his nostrils. “Good Lord, woman, what is that?”
“Something flew off your tool and landed in my beard.”
Akasha lifted her ratchet and sniffed the socket on the end. Immediately her nose wrinkled and she drew back. “Oh shit! I’m so sorry!” Her words broke off in a giggle. “It’s gear oil.”
“This is not amusing,” Razvan said and strode over to her shop sink to try to wash it out while Akasha alternately laughed and apologized.
“You won’t be able to wash it out,” she said. “The smell sticks to anything for all eternity.”
Razvan shot her a glare and kept scrubbing with degreaser soap. Then he tried the borax, and then the dish soap before at last admitting defeat. “I’m going to have to shave,” he grumbled. “Now.”
“I really am sorry.” Akasha scooped up her cat and gestured for him to follow her out of the shop.
They took Silas’s car and drove to the castle on top of Cherry Hill, where the Lord Vampire of Coeur d’Alene resided. Even with the convertible top down, Razvan’s eyes watered from the pungent odor of the gear oil. He darted out of the ‘68 Barracuda the moment Akasha parked in front of the massive garage. Isuzu followed behind him.
When Razvan burst through the door and started up the stairs, Silas and Jayden looked up from the dining room table.
“What’s wrong?” Silas asked, bending to pet the cat.
Razvan pointed at Akasha. “Your wife ruined my beard. I need to use your razor.”
Akasha blushed as she looked at her husband, finally looking truly repentant. “I accidentally flicked gear oil at him.”
“Oh… my…” Silas breathed before looking back at Razvan with pity. “My razor’s in the bathroom in the master bedroom.”
“Thank you,” Razvan said tightly, avoiding Jayden’s gaze lest he see pity there as well. Unable to stand the wretched smell a minute longer, he ran up the stairs.
When he emerged, Jayden and Akasha looked at him with wide eyes before they both shook their heads.
“No mustache,” his fiancé said. He couldn’t tell if that was horror in her green eyes, or a fight against laughter.
“Yeah, you look like a 70’s cop,” Akasha said. “Or a porn star.”
That had him heading back up the stairs. Once Razvan finished and washed the shaving cream off his face, he froze, staring into the mirror at his hairless chin and upper lip.He was looking at his brother’s face.