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Dark Arts For Bright Hearts

by Mere Rain

All Jet wants is a fun night out at the club he’s finally old enough to get into. Okay, not all -- he also wants mystery, adventure, love, college tuition, and a new best friend who isn’t too busy to spend time with him. But he wasn’t expecting any of those to find him at Club Nox. And he definitely wasn’t expecting a gorgeous stranger to offer him his heart’s desire in exchange for ... his actual heart? What kind of crazy deal is this? And what does the alluring Darken mean when he says it’s too late for Jet to change his mind? Why can’t Jet take off the heart-shaped pendant?

Darken feels a little guilty about tricking the cute goth boy at the club into taking on his curse. But what choice did he have? Any one person can only wear the heart pendant for so long before it drains them, and he’s served his three years. As curses go, this one honestly isn’t so bad. And maybe Jet will let Darken sweeten the deal with a few kisses. He isn’t sticking around now that he’s free, though. And he definitely isn’t falling in love again. That’s what got him into this mess in the first place.

Soon Jet realizes Darken told him the truth: Jet has made a bargain he can’t escape. Does he even want to, if Darken is part of the package? If only human hearts were as easy to win as magical ones...

Publisher: JMS Books, LLC
Tropes: Bodysnatchers, Dark Lord, Enemy to Ally, Found Family, Immortality, Possession, Powerful Artifact
Word Count: 22000
Setting: Goth Club
Languages Available: English
Tropes: Bodysnatchers, Dark Lord, Enemy to Ally, Found Family, Immortality, Possession, Powerful Artifact
Word Count: 22000
Setting: Goth Club
Languages Available: English
      • Jet ordered a cherry soda and waited until the bartender handed it over to venture, “I’m looking for this guy who was here on Thursday. He had long hair, and a flowy shirt, and he was, uh ...”

    Amazingly attractive

      might have helped a little, but it was ridiculously hard to describe one goth in a generally goth club.

“He was wearing this,” Jet tried desperately, lifting the heart pendant. It twitched in his fingers, and he dropped it, even though he knew it was his imagination. The bartender wasn’t looking, anyway; his eyes were fixed on two women in corsets who were kissing.

“Sorry, kid,” the bouncer said, not sounding sorry. “I wasn’t working that night. Ask Star.” He waved toward the other end of the long bar.


Jet passed behind the kissing couple, dodged a pair of men who had drunk too much and were trying to help each other walk straight, brushed an ostrich-feather hair ornament out of his eyes, and came face to face with Darken.

Well, not quite face to face. The bar was between them. Darken was behind it, looking not at Jet but at the bartender, who was showing him how to mix a cocktail.

Darken seemed subdued, in some way Jet couldn’t put his finger on. Darken was still beautiful and put-together, but he wasn’t too amazing to be breathing the same air as Jet. Jet wasn’t going weak in the knees.

In fact, he was still walking, which resulted in him bumping into the bar.

Darken looked up and smiled.

Like he was genuinely pleased to see Jet.

For some reason, that made Jet furious.

Jet had agonized over how to approach Darken. He hadn’t considered lunging over the counter, grabbing his shirt, and snarling, “You bastard! What did you do to me?”

“Good things, it looks like.” Darken grinned “You’re a lot fiercer today, kitten.”

“My name is Jet!” Jet snapped.

“Jet.” Darken’s eyes flicked past Jet for a second and he raised his hand, palm out.

Jet looked over his shoulder and found the bouncer only a few feet away.

“I what?”

“It’s fine.” Darken raised his voice. “Jet will be taking over my duties upstairs.”

“Jet, Star is the head bartender and also does the ordering. Carson is in charge of security.”

Star, a thirtyish woman with an elaborate Victorian updo and lots of barbed-wire tattoos, smiled, and said, “Good to meet you.”

Carson nodded, bulged his arm muscles at Jet, and turned back into the crowd.

Feeling stupid, Jet let go of Darken and gave the bartender an awkward wave.

“Star, I’ll have to bail for the night,” Darken said. He helped himself to a bottle of wine and a glass.

“Come on,” Darken nodded at Jet as he came around the bar, bottle in hand. “We need to talk somewhere quieter.”

“So you can roofie me again?” Jet was annoyed to find that he sounded sulky rather than angry.

“I didn’t drug you,” Darken said. “It was magic.”


Reviews:Veronica on Joyfully Jay wrote:

Jet is out at a goth club — alone — to celebrate his 18th birthday. He’s not a loner, but Jet has terrible relationships with selfish people, including his family. Club Nox seems like a place he could meet new friends, and maybe find the companionship for which he hungers. He’s immediately charmed when a slightly older man approaches him, offering a drink and a semi-private rendezvous deeper into the club. Darken, as he’s called, is playful and flirty, offering Jet his anatomically correct, heart-shaped pendant as a birthday gift. However, Jet’s more interested in a kiss, and all that comes after.

Waking alone in his bed the next day, Jet’s startled to wonder how he got home, why he’s so wiped out, and why he’s wearing that mysterious stranger’s pendant necklace. Jet’s anxious that Darken may have drugged him, but he’s even more alarmed that he can’t remove the necklace, even to shower. He’s exhausted all the time, and the heart pendant seems to beat in time with Jet’s own heart. Darken must have answers, if Jet can find him again.

As it turns out, it’s pretty easy to find Darken, who’s actually fairly forthcoming about Jet’s new situation. Darken lives in an apartment above Club Nox, which used to be an old theatre. In the upper level of the building “resides” Mr. Older, who was maybe a warlock or sorcerer. Mr. Older is ancient, existing because the heart pendant siphons life energy from its wearer. He’s a generous parasite, though, providing living space, vehicles, and a significant allowance to his “host.” Jet is frustrated that he’s been tricked, and wants Darken to take the heart back, but the magic doesn’t work that way. Once the heart finds someone to which there is an affinity, it makes the transfer happen. Darken’s sincere attraction for Jet, and his desire to be a better person than the guy who held the heart before him, causes Darken to offer mentoring advice to Jet about his predicament. Darken knows it’s not exactly dire, and there are perks.

This is a short and sweet forced-proximity paranormal romance, with two characters that have little in common except the magic that connects them. Darken could run off to enjoy his own life, now that he’s not tied to the Club Nox building any longer, but he lingers. He likes living and working at the club, as it was his own inspiration to turn the failing theatre into an alt-goth hangout. And, Jet’s so young and sexy. It’s no hardship to teach him all the finer points of physical relations. From his own experience, Darken knows that the heart only keeps a host for two or three years, and he believes that he could help shepherd Jet through it. If Jet wants the help, that is.

I honestly wasn’t sure how I’d like this one, because of the magical trickery and life-force leaching. Jet is a teen with low self-esteem. He’s mystified that Darken, and the heart, chose him for anything, because he’s felt rather discardable his entire life. I liked how sincere Darken was, and how the magic gave Jet some much-needed confidence, even as it sapped his strength. It’s kind of an awkward meet-cute, what with the magical binding and all, but Jet is honestly grateful for Darken’s compassion, and let’s face it, he’s super attracted to him, too. Their connection grows more intense by the day, and Darken’s offers of living in the building and accepting the monetary perks of being Mr. Older’s host are too tempting for Jet to ignore. Darken’s original plans to travel could be paused, if Jet really wants him to stay.

The story is mostly told from Jet’s point of view, which is rather naïve and uninformed. However, his growth is only exceeded by his happiness at finding a partner and some community to support him. I loved that Jet was no longer so miserably solitary, and I did like Darken, too. He’s not a bad guy, just a guy in a bad spot. And, both of these characters find love—albeit quickly—together. Expect less steam and more brooding; they are written to be goth characters, after all. If you are into paranormal romances, this one might be worth a second look.

About the Author

Mere Rain is an international nonentity of mystery whose library resides in California.
Mere likes reading, travel, food, art, and you.
No, really!