As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Beside the Darker Shore

by Patricia J Esposito

What might the ethical Governor David Gedden give up for one man's exquisite beauty? It's terrifying to consider when the man is a destructive blood prostitute and David is responsible for the state's peaceful vampire community. Blood sales in Boston are up, blood taxes support a thriving new nightlife, neighborhoods have been refurbished, and deaths by vampires have plummeted. David is assured reelection.

However, the blood addict Stephen Salando has returned from exile with one unalterable plan: to turn the good governor into a vampire. Stephen is an immortal dhampir, whose beauty obliterates reason, who rouses in David a fierce desire he's ignored his whole life. But for David to have Stephen, he must ally with an ancient vampire, the community's seductive archnemesis. To have him, he must become a killer himself.

Will David hold on to his ethical public life? Or will he follow what he most desires, a kiss with a killer to become a vampire himself?


As Stephen stood to put in his music, he downed his glass of wine, the orange light catching the liquid’s flow, streaking Stephen’s neck. There was no doubt he was beautiful, his slender silk neck belying the strength of tendons, of arteries that pumped eternally renewing blood. Did he think David could take that blood, could bite into this man whom he could hardly touch without ravishing as a human?

“If the intimacy of Stephen frightens you,” Arturo said, “think of the eternity I’m offering. You will have time for my villa in Potes, and I will take you there. Time for Italy and India, for Scottish moors and Arabian deserts, for Plato and Lawrence, Prokofiev and Paganini.

Arturo’s voice was lulling, his smile charming, and David couldn’t help a small smile in return.


“At night,” he continued, “we will skim our hands over Rodin's Orpheus and Donatello's David, stand beside de Chirico's melancholic street and Hopper's slanted shadows, voyeurs to each century and secrets in ourselves.”

A solitary, sad guitar strummed through the trailer, mixing with the breeze through the slatted window, and Stephen slid on the bench, next to David, while Arturo leaned back into shadows.

“This music is lonely,” he said, “rain and bare branches and twilight sky. Like Stephen.”

David’s arm was a twitch away from Stephen’s. Their legs brushed beneath the table. A drum began slowly beating alongside the guitar, propelling the night, yet holding them still. David sipped his wine, knowing it would taste like Stephen, and realized that what he wanted was entirely selfish. He wanted immunity, to taste all this, to drink only for himself.

He looked at Stephen, his dark lashes, sleek cheekbones. He wanted those soft lips parting, the taste of his breath, burgundy-rich, so near his mouth. He tasted Stephen before their tongues met.

His fingers burned on the table edge, his heart louder than the music. The breeze pushed him on. Lips on lips. But his mind flashed with that night, tearing into Stephen. "I can’t do this," he whispered.

Stephen stroked David’s hair. "Shhh, not yet," he said.

A zipping sound broke them apart. Arturo held the cross he wore and zipped it along its chain.

“I don’t know why I came when I’m sure you’ll kill me.”

“No,” Stephen said. “You won’t die. You’ll take his blood.”

“To become a killer? That’s what I’m choosing. Do you understand, Stephen? Do you understand this? That’s what I’m choosing. Why? Why is this necessary?”

Just as Stephen pulled back, Arturo tore the table from its hinge and threw it aside. He knelt before David, pressing him back on the bench. This was it. Stephen struck a flame and a candle sizzled alive.

Arturo ran his hand through David’s hair, down his cheek, then across his chest, those same cool marble hands now lying over his heart. “Beat hard. Let life seize your body, ignite your soul. David, you are alive. Your blood is more than warm and sweet. It is the dark pearl rain, the green hill stream, blue snow clouds, and summer’s evening blush.”

Arturo licked blood from his finger, and David glanced quickly down at himself not sure whose blood it was.

“I am not marble but flesh, and you will feel me. My heart is not monster; it is human, and it needs yours.”

Stephen released a restrained breath. This was happening. He had somehow, somewhere acquiesced. As Arturo’s mouth touched David’s neck, his eyes closed, and David closed his own.

“If I do this, does it stop? Will you leave the community?” If they had said no, it wouldn’t have mattered, but David clung to one hope against all his failures.

Stephen’s hands ran up David’s thigh, gripping him, pinning him to the seat. Then Arturo’s cold lips shivered against his throat. He bit down suddenly, ice slivers slicing his neck. David screamed out as the cold went deep.

Reviews:Linda Tonis on Paranormal Romance Guild wrote:

This was a very interesting book and a unique take on vampires. Governor David Gedden of Boston, Massachusetts has been able to accomplish something few other states have, he has formed a vampire community that has added to the state’s revenue. Restaurants, parks and blood banks alleviate the need for blood from humans.

Along with Alex Marshall, a nine-hundred-year-old vampire, they have given vampires a haven and humans are less fearful of them. Death of humans has significantly dropped and on the night that David and Alex are having a gala in celebration of all that has been accomplished there is an interruption by Alex’s son Stephan. Stephan was exiled three years ago and now is back without a doubt ready to cause chaos.

Stephan is half human and half vampire, a dhampir capable of walking in the sun, requires no blood and is immortal, being immortal is a secret few are aware of. Stephan is at the gala uninvited and ready for trouble. He has come with Arturo, a vampire who believes taking blood should come from a human being not a blood bag. Arturo is the definition of what everyone thinks of a vampire and it is confirmed when he leaves a dead police officer laying on the ground.

Stephan’s reason for returning is his desire for David to be a vampire, unfortunately, David is unwilling to agree to it. Stephan is a blood prostitute always begging Arturo to drink from him, which he seldom does. Stephan’s mother is human and the Lieutenant Governor, but she has absolutely no control over her son. Stephan destroys sixty percent of the blood in the blood banks leaving a shortage of blood and opening the way for vampires to once again seek human blood.

Trouble also comes from Elena, a Molecular Biologist who is determined to experiment on Stephan to discover how he was created and wanting to create more like him. All the good David and Alex are doing will go up in smoke if those working in the background succeed in destroying all the good that has been done, bringing humans and vampires together.

What would happen if it was possible to create more like Stephan, humans who are immortal, there would be no end to the damage that could be done. Stephan lives between two worlds, humans and vampires not belonging fully to either one. If David would become a vampire, they would both have eternal life and Stephan would have the man he loves capable of feeding from him.

The characters were wonderful, there were secrets, lies, betrayal and surprises. Reading this book was a view of what happens to an honest and devoted man who loves someone who can only bring him down. This is not an easy read but a worthwhile one because the author did a wonderful job of keeping me interested and glued to the story till the end.

About the Author

Patricia J. Esposito has been a writer of edgy paranormal fiction for most of her life, but always knew she had a romantic heart. Her most recent fiction and poetry reflect that enduring quest for love and joy beneath the human struggle, most recently in her novel Beside the Darker Shore. She has had numerous works of fiction and poetry appear in anthologies, such as Main Street Rag’s Crossing Lines, Cohesion Press’s Blurring the Line, AnnaPurna’s Clarify, Timbre’s Stories of Music, and Undertow’s Apparitions, and in magazines, including Not One of Us, Clean Sheets, Scarlet Literary Magazine, Rose and Thorn, Hungur, Wicked Hollow, and Midnight Street. Her fiction has received honorable mentions in “year’s best” anthologies, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Long-time married to the “boy-next-door,” she has two daughters and works at home as a copy editor, when she’s not off exploring the intoxicating realms of the imagination.