When a vampire drag queen and her partner lose their nightclub in a fire, is it the start of a hot new romance?
Nick Lindsay has made a successful career for himself as drag queen Merante Bane, performing at the Blue Moon club managed by his partner, James. Nick’s whole focus is on the upcoming Solstice Ball, the biggest party for vampires on the shortest night of the year.
When fire lays waste to the club, James wants to forget about the Ball and work on rebuilding his business, but he hasn’t counted on Nick’s stubbornness and need to make this a night to remember. And what neither of them has counted on is that the fire will bring them into contact with hunky Fire Brigade Watch Commander Phil Warrington.
There’s an instant attraction between Nick and Phil even in the scene of chaos surrounding the fire, and James sees this as a chance to finally bring a third person into their relationship. Can Nick find a new home for the Solstice Ball, and can Phil find his way into Nick’s and James’ hearts…and their bed?
General Release Date: 4th July 2023
“You’re going to slay them tonight.”
Nick turned his head slowly, conscious of the weight of his elaborate rose-gold wig, to see James standing in the dressing-room doorway. “Hey, don’t you have a club you should be looking after?”
James grinned as he walked into the room and came over to where Nick sat. “You look ravishing, my love. But then you always do. This dress”—he gestured to the nude illusion gown Nick wore, decorated with thousands of tiny shimmering crystals—“really takes my breath away. Well, it would if that were still possible.” He chuckled at his own joke.
“Thank you.” Nick looked up into James’ cool blue eyes as he placed a single red rose next to the array of makeup brushes on the dressing table, a ritual James had performed every evening since Nick first performed at the Blue Moon’s drag night.
James bent and kissed Nick’s neck, his fangs brushing over the delicate skin in an intimate caress. Nick brought up his hand, glittering with jeweled rings, and pulled James’ head a little tighter to him.
“There’s a big crowd out there,” James said as he broke the kiss. “The warm weather must have brought them. Quite a few virgins…to the scene, I mean.” He glanced around the room. “I’ll make sure there’s champagne waiting for you when you come off stage.”
“Oh, you really don’t have to—”
“Nonsense. Dressed like that, you’re going to have them lining up the whole way down the hall to see you after the show. You’ll have your pick of all the handsome boys out there.”
Nick put the back of his hand to his brow, feigning a swoon. “Oh, it’s such a difficult job…but somebody has to do it. Now, will you go back to what you’re supposed to be doing and let me finish up here? I’m due on stage in a couple of minutes.”
“Of course. I’ll see you afterwards.” He pressed another kiss to Nick’s collarbone and turned to leave the room.
As James pushed open the door, Nick heard music coming from the dance floor, an old-school Hazell Dean track whose high-energy beat would have the punters going wild. It took him back to his early days here, when he’d come to dance and lose himself in a mass of hot, sweating bodies for hours on end. He’d been so young and optimistic then, not knowing the strange turn his life was about to take…
He shook his head to clear it of the memory and reached for the lip gloss. Once he’d applied a final coat, he pouted at his reflection, more than satisfied with the result. The transformation was complete. Gone was Nick Lindsay. In his place sat Merante Bane, queen of the Blue Moon, and she was ready to come out and play.
* * * *
Merante made her way to the small, cramped backstage area. The grand Victorian building, now home to the Blue Moon, had originally been a pub, full of odd nooks and crannies like this one. She took a deep breath. The DJ had started her backing tape and an expectant hush fell over the room as everyone waited for her to appear.
She pushed open the curtain and strutted out to the opening notes of Mama Told Me Not to Come, with the weird, woozy organ riff. Most of the other drag queens she worked with preferred to lip-synch, so they didn’t mangle the lyrics while they were twirling around or hurling themselves into the splits, but Merante always sang live. She’d never been a dancing queen—her talent was her rich, smoky voice.
The song suited her off-kilter persona, and she threw everything into the performance, acting out the part of someone who found themselves at a strange party where nothing was off-limits.
Just like a night at the Blue Moon.
The crowd joined in on the final chorus, and when it ended, they burst into cheering and applause. Merante took a moment to bask in their appreciation, then she strolled to the front of the stage, microphone in hand. She took a moment to survey the sea of faces, the eclectic mix of vampire and human, long-time regulars at the Blue Moon and newbies anxious to savor the atmosphere of the famous old club.
James was right… There’s a lot of cute boys in tonight.
At the thought of James, she looked over to the back of the club. He was in his usual position leaning against the bar, chatting to Rhys, the head barman. She caught James’ eye, and he raised his fingers to his lips and blew her a kiss.
Merante turned her attention back to the audience. “Are you all having a good time?” she asked. When they roared in appreciation, she shook her head. “Well, we’ll soon change all that…” She glanced out into the press of bodies close to the stage and spotted a young ginger-haired man in a sequined T-shirt that clung to his firm pecs. “Fuck me, love, why have you come dressed as a glitterball? This isn’t Twilight. We don’t do all that sparkly shit here, thank you very much.”
More laughter. This was the other reason they came to the Blue Moon when Merante performed—to be on the receiving end of her acid tongue.
She regarded her target again as the guy standing next to him nudged him in the ribs, clearly enjoying that his friend was the butt of the joke and not him. The redhead blushed to the roots of his hair.
So, there’s blood running in those veins…
Merante’s mouth watered at the thought, but right now she had a job to do. She fixed the redhead with a contemplative stare, enjoying how he squirmed under her gaze. “Mind you, I don’t blame you for being confused about vampires, love. You see, until I became one, I thought they were mythical creatures, too. They didn’t really exist. You know, like unicorns, Father Christmas and guys who mean it when they tell you they won’t come in your mouth…”
The line raised a big laugh, just as she’d known it would. Confident she had the audience in the palm of her hand, Merante relaxed into her stand-up routine. Almost before she knew it, her ten minutes was over, and the music started again. She always finished with an upbeat number, leaving the crowd on a high and ready to dance, and tonight she’d chosen Kylie Minogue’s Hand on Your Heart.
“Always the Eighties with you,” James had said on so many occasions, but Merante knew he understood why. It was her decade, always would be, and in the Blue Moon, time didn’t mean the same as it did anywhere else.
The boys at the front of the stage didn’t care, even though most of them didn’t look as if they’d been born when the song was first a hit. They sang along as Merante belted out the chorus, and when she took her final bow, they screamed her name.
“Thank you so much,” Merante said. “I’ve been Merante Bane, and you’ve been”—she made a wavering hand gesture, dismissing them—“bang average.”
With that, the spotlight cut out and she disappeared back behind the curtain, leaving them calling for more. The music started up, the beat fast and hard, beckoning everyone back to the dance floor.
Merante left the noise behind and returned to the dressing room. True to his word, James had left a bottle of champagne chilling in an ice bucket, along with a couple of tall, slender glasses. The alcohol tempted her, but before she did anything else, she needed to untuck.
Concealing your penis to help complete the illusion of having a feminine body was a necessary evil for a drag queen, but it was not pleasant to maintain for long periods of time. Merante hissed out a breath of relief as she eased her tight tucking panties down and off and made the necessary adjustments to her anatomy.
Comfortable once more, she reached for the champagne. She took the wire cage from around the cork and opened the bottle with a deft motion, the sound barely audible in the little room. James had taught her champagne should open with a sigh, not a pop, impressing her with his sophistication. She laughed to herself at how naïve she’d been until James had taken her under his wing.
The champagne tasted crisp and fresh, the bubbles fizzing on her tongue. She turned to the mirror, about to begin the long process of removing her costume and makeup, turning herself back into Nick, when she heard a knock at the door.
She didn’t bother to glance around—certain it was James come to congratulate her on her performance and join her in a drink. Why else had he brought a second glass?
“Enter!” she called out.
The door creaked open. Merante paused, a makeup wipe halfway to her face. Instead of James, the redhead in the sparkly sequined top stood in the doorway.
She smiled to himself.
He came. Just like I knew he would.