The Beast Without follows Reylan, a vampire – or Blood Shade, as they’re known in this universe, who’s just over a century and a half old and has been happily independent and asexual all that time. My first rule was no angsty vampires! Reylan loves being what he is, and if there’s something missing from his life (which of course there is) he’s not going to admit it. In many ways, Jorgas, the young werewolf who attacks and then stalks him, is his polar opposite. He’s volatile and angry, full of sexual energy with no outlet. So as rival predators they’re both extremely dangerous in their own way, perhaps most of all to each other.
They’re not the easiest guys to know, but those flaws are part of what draws them together. Reylan is arrogant, narcissistic and often quite selfish. Jorgas is stuck in this self-indulgent, self-loathing panic over his emerging nature, which causes him to lash out. Jorgas needs a stable compass, while Reylan needs an explosive kick up the arse. I didn’t really set out to write any metaphors, but I think many gay men rely on that hostility and/or cynicism as a defense mechanism, and some wind up trapped by it. So as Reylan and Jorgas start to break down those defenses in each other, I guess you could call The Beast Without a traditional romance in that sense.
It’s still very much an urban fantasy novel however. This MM relationship just happens to be at its core. I don’t mind HEA, but I prefer a broader plot in which romance manifests as moments of happiness that I can relate to in that context and appreciate for what they are. Reylan and Jorgas don’t get many of them, not just because of the genre, but because of their conflicting natures and because this is a potentially very dangerous relationship still in its infancy.
The plot focuses on the murders that bring them together and the broader mysteries Reylan uncovers along the way. I’m big on world building and drawn to stories that play the long game and seed their plot quite early (Yes, I’m a David Lynch fan. Take from that what you will!). So there’s a colourful roster of supporting characters, each with their own agenda, and the lines between good and evil can be hard to make out.
For Reylan and Jorgas, that means certain events in the book bring them closer together, while some also burden them with terrible secrets. I tried to maintain a moral ambiguity that fits with their monstrous natures and keeps the relationship volatile. It’s a lot of fun to play with, and I hope to continue Reylan’s story very soon.
Reylan is everything a Sydney vampire aspires to be: wealthy, handsome and independent, carefully feeding off companions plucked from the gay bars of Oxford Street.
When one of those companions is killed by Jorgas, a hot-headed young werewolf prowling his streets, Reylan reluctantly puts his cherished lifestyle of blood and boys on hold to help a mysterious alliance of supernatural beings track down the beast. It can’t be that hard … not when Jorgas keeps coming after him.
But there’s more to this werewolf than a body count and a bad attitude. As their relationship grows deeper and more twisted, Reylan tastes Jorgas’ blood, reawakening desires the vampire had thought long dead. And what evolves between them may be far more dangerous than some rival predator in the dark…
Rory made a striking figure, striding along Oxford Street towards my home, now wearing the black singlet that had hung from his belt inside the club.
I cut a nice figure myself, letting a little of my gifts pervade the air around us. In the pursuit of companions, one’s appearance prior to the ‘change’ matters very little – a sly benefit brought on by centuries of rapid evolution. Once our predatory nature takes hold, it radiates with sexual magnetism. A lure, if you will. What’s the use of eternal youth if you can’t convince the world you’re irresistible, after all?
As we weaved through the crowd at Taylor Square and met the privacy of Darlinghurst’s darkened streets, I felt Rory throw a heavy arm over my shoulder. I hoped the man wasn’t going to play clingy. I don’t play well with clingy, no matter how beautiful – or drunk – it is.
My companion had no way to detect the sudden stillness of the night air, his already limited human senses dulled by liquor. But I knew. I knew it was too still.
“Mmm?” The man’s pace never slowed.
I softened my steps, acute ears reaching out for anything nearby. Something accustomed to hiding, something that didn’t want to be seen.
Perhaps, something like me?
“This way.” I eased Rory towards a side street that took us off the main road and out of public view. I could partly cloak both of us, even from the prying eyes of another of my kind, but not for long. This enviable specimen of humanity was mine, damn it. I had seduced him, I would drink from him, and I was not inclined to share.
“Hey,” my lunch called.
I swear my fangs flashed as I rounded on Rory with a furious glare. He was too drunk to notice. Idiot. You don’t ‘Hey’ our kind when we’re nervous. The consequences are typically… unpleasant.
“You want to have some fun with me?” he teased.
“Yes, but we’ve got to keep moving.” I sniffed the air. No scent – no sound anymore either. Had we lost whatever I thought I’d heard in the dark? I took Rory’s hand again and tried to lead him away. But the man just smiled.
“Why not here?”
I stared at him. “What? No!” This was the last thing I needed – a drunken exhibitionist.
“Come on, man. There’s nobody watching. It’ll be hot.”
I could barely contain my annoyance behind clenched teeth as Rory pawed at my shirt, his warm fingers dancing over the cool flesh of my waist. I tried to push him away, careful not to use my full preternatural strength. If I was already facing some rival predator, lurking in the dark, I didn’t need the complication of accidentally breaking my companion’s ribs.
I gasped as Rory slid a hand inside my ‘impenetrably’ tight trousers and kissed me. I let him nuzzle me a moment, then forced him to break. “Not here. Not now.”
Mumbling what sounded like an obscene description of precisely what he hoped to do to me ‘here and now,’ Rory grabbed my vest and yanked it up, his tongue cutting a slow, sensual dance down my chest. I shivered as cold air hit the pale, moistened skin. My companion lapped at my abs with warm, open kisses as he pulled open my belt and pants. He wasn’t taking no for an answer.
I listened for the intruder once more, trying to shut out the mortal’s lustful sighs as he explored me. Still nothing. Perhaps I’d imagined it, or ‘it’ had lost us. In any case, I’d soon lose my prey if I didn’t get back into character. I closed my eyes and tried to relax.
“That’s better,” Rory grinned, as he took me in his mouth.
I wasn’t convinced we were out of danger yet. With a sniff of the air, I was certain. Yes, something was out here now, and it was close. At least Rory was distracted. I shuddered as he yanked down my trousers, grabbing my backside with strong hands, pulling me deeper as his fingers teased me. I ran an appreciative caress over his biceps, shoulders and neck.
Then, in the dark, I saw the intruder’s outline. He was roughly my height, but slouched, his manner almost tentative as he watched us. I tapped Rory’s arm to get his attention, nodding at the intruder. “Excuse me, do you mind?”
Rory quickly turned and shouted as I redressed, “Hey, are you deaf, mate? Piss off, will you?”
Rory glanced back at me with a grin. “I think somebody wants to party with us.”
This, I sincerely doubted.
My companion turned back to the figure with a cocky swagger. “Show us what you got, then.”
A young man stepped tentatively from the darkness. The stench of cheap cigarettes hung from his clothes. His jeans were ripped, and he wore a stained and faded jacket that at one time had been blue. His hair was a mess of dark brown locks. The kid’s face had been unshaven for just over a day, and his tongue bled from an accidental bite. I could smell it.
Rory shook his head, putting an arm around me again. “Jesus. You into rough trade,
“Shut up!” the kid barked.
We startled as he waved a flick-knife at us.
Still, I was relieved. I’d had every nerve and fibre primed, ready to fight for my prey, yet my nemesis had turned out to be some unkempt delinquent too gutless to hold up a convenience store. He couldn’t have been much more than twenty, probably still living with his parents in some suburban backwater in the outer west.
I almost pitied him.
“Your wallets, fags. Now!” He flashed the knife at Rory and tried to look intimidating.
This was no easy feat, for while the mugger was almost six foot tall, Rory was several inches clear of that benchmark and almost as broad around the chest.
“Okay.” Rory eased off of me and took out his wallet. Any trace of the drunk, muscle-bound horn dog, who moments before had been so focused on the worship of my flesh, was now gone as the situation sank in. “Just relax. It’s okay, you can have it. Just be cool, alright?”
I had to admit, the man’s calm confidence impressed me. Ego and alcohol were, just occasionally, a useful mix.
“I said now! You too.” This time, the bastard pointed the knife at me.
I slowly took out my wallet, the focus of my curiosity shifting from companion to thug.
Surely, Rory wasn’t intimidated? One swipe of those big hands and this discussion would be over. Hell, I wasn’t bound by human limits. One punch from me would achieve the same outcome. But that was out of the question in front of the human. Plus, there was every chance the thief would remember it when he woke up. If he woke up.
But something was different now. Too different. The mugger was flinching, like a dog taking fright.
“Rory, get behind me and get ready to run,”
THE GIVEAWAY: THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED