Author Charlie Richards

Giving love and imagination free reign


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Branding an Icy Heart

Wolves of Stone Ridge: Book Thirty-Two

Out of the Cage: A vampire in motion remains in motion...until he runs into his beloved.

Between discovering that two of his brothers have accepted male beloveds and learning his eldest brother is moving their coven to the United States, Aleksei Kuznetsov's world has been turned upside down. He's never been good with change, so he flees his family and what he believes are their unnatural predilections. After several months of soul searching, he's ready to make amends. However, realizing that being gay isn't unnatural and accepting it for his brothers doesn't prepare him for running into Remy Smithson. The human's blood calls to him like he imagines a beloved's should. Can he wrap his mind around what's happening quickly enough, or will he lose the best thing that may have ever happened to him?

Excerpt - Branding an Icy Heart

The excerpt below contain explicit adult language and sexual content.

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    Finding a can of strawberry lemonade, Aleksei leaned over and opened the blue chest next to it. He grabbed himself a bottle of beer and stood. When he turned, he found Vadim standing directly behind him, his arms crossed over his impressive chest, and his eyes narrowed.

Lifting a brow, Aleksei spread his arms. “Da?”

“What are you doing?” Vadim snarled in their native language. “Why are you flirting with Remy? He is kind and sweet and has already overcome so much. Don’t play with him.”

Aleksei ground his teeth together, biting back his initial snarl—mine. Claiming that would have been really bad. Justhim thinking it was bad. He also forced back a wave of jealousy. While he hadn’t ever seen Vadim take an interest in a man, that didn’t mean he hadn’t. What if his much more open-minded brother went after Remy?

Damn it all.

“Well?”

Snapping out of his thoughts, Aleksei focused on Vadim. “I am making an uncomfortable guest comfortable,” he growled. “We have already met. I am the logical choice until his friends arrive.”

“Don’t lead him on,” Vadim ordered. “Asshole,” he muttered as he spun and stalked away.

Aleksei rolled his eyes, then headed back to the table. He supposed he deserved that admonishment, what with how he’d parted ways with his family. Knowing it would take his brothers time to accept that he’d grown on his travels didn’t make their words smart any less.

“Here you are,” Aleksei stated, setting the can on the table and sliding it toward Remy. “Hope strawberry is okay.”

As Aleksei spoke, he settled in one of the high chairs and popped the cap off his bottle.

“Strawberry is great.”

After nodding, Aleksei took a swig of his beer. He swallowed the bitter, hopsy beverage. Watching Remy pop the cap and take a drink of his lemonade, he spotted the pulse point in his arched neck.

Aleksei’s fangs tingled and his mouth watered as a desire to taste the male’s blood flooded him. He suddenly regretted turning down the multiple offers he’d had from siblings to go out and find a blood donor. While he’d fed the day before arriving at the estate, he hadn’t since. Feeding once every couple of weeks was doable, but not in his best interest. Aleksei hoped—hell, prayed to whatever God cared to listen—that his sudden craving for Remy’s blood was due to general hunger and didn’t actually have anything to do withthe human himself.

“Is everything okay?” Remy asked, his brows furrowing. “Vadim seemed a little... upset with you?”

Hearing the question in Remy’s words, Aleksei leaned forward and rested his elbows on the table. He bracketed his beer between his palms. Focusing on the human, he shrugged.

“They know you are gay and I am not,” Aleksei told him, deciding to go for blunt. “They know I’m an asshole and I’ve said some... bigoted things in the past.” He grimaced as he watched Remy straighten, his lips pinching tightly. “When a man is raised hearing a certain opinion, he can be slow to change.” He gave Remy a wry smile as he admitted, “And I am not good with change.”

Remy swallowed another gulp of lemonade, his gaze focused on his can for a moment.

Aleksei waited, drinking his beer, wondering what the human would say.

“Well,” Remy murmured, rubbing the back of his neck with one hand. Finally, he lifted his gaze and focused on him. “You haven’t been an asshole, yet, so—” He didn’t finish, ending with a shrug instead.

Scoffing, Aleksei responded, “Well, you haven’t known me long.” He smirked, then added, “Give it time. I may be an asshole, but at least I’m honest about it.” He winked, then took another swig of his beer.