Saint’s afraid to die. Grey can’t stand to live.
Grey Jean-Marcelin wants to die. He thought painting his passion — vivid portrayals of Haitian life and vodou faith — would be enough to anchor him to this world. But it isn’t. And when the mysterious man known only as Saint saves Grey from a suicide attempt, it’s more curse than blessing — until Grey discovers that Saint isn’t just an EMT. He’s a banished fae, and can only survive by draining the lives of those he loves.
All Saint needed was a simple bargain: one life willingly given for another. But as Saint’s feelings for Grey grow deeper, centuries of guilt leave him desperate to save a man who doesn’t want salvation, even if Grey’s life means Saint’s death.
When Grey’s depression consumes him, only he can decide if living is worth the struggle. Yet his choice may come too late to save his life . . . or Saint’s soul. And whatever choice he makes, it may shatter them both.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Shatterproof-X…
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shatterproof…
“My name is Saint,” he said, “and I kill everyone I love.”
Saint stared down at the digital recorder in his palm. Seconds ticked by on the screen. His black-polished fingernail underscored the blocky numbers, accusing with every moment he stared, silent in the sluggish, slow heat of the balmy Georgia night. He was supposed to be telling his story. Recording the things he knew, so he could piece together the things he didn’t.
This was pointless.
He lifted the device to his lips again, hesitated, exhaled. “I call myself Saint, but I . . . I don’t know my real name. I don’t know where I came from. As far as I can tell, I’m over two hundred years old. I haven’t aged a day in that time. But sometimes . . .” He wet his lips. “Sometimes I start to fall apart. Sometimes I grow weak, faint. Until . . .” His heart rolled over, a heavy thing weighted with pain. “. . . until I fall in love. I’ve loved . . . God, too many. Calen. Michael. Remy. Dorian. Philippe. Arturo. Victor. Jake.”
He closed his eyes. Jake. Jake and his grass-green eyes; Jake and the way he’d breathed Saint, Saint as if the name was a prayer to save him. It had been eighteen years, and still he remembered the way Jake’s hands had spanned his hips, and how those hands had been so emaciated and feeble when his eyes glazed over and his body just . . . deflated, like there was nothing inside to hold it up anymore. He’d been the last. Saint wanted him to be the last.
He couldn’t stand to do this again.
“They always die,” he whispered, then pressed his mouth to the recorder, the little stipples over the speaker scraping against his lips. “It’s always the creative types. Artists. Musicians. Painters. Authors. Poets. They’re brilliant. They’re beautiful. They’re the only ones who can make me feel. Everyone else is monochrome, but for me they’re all the colors in the world and even when I want to resist, I can’t.”
He swallowed, thick and rough. “But then . . . something happens. This fire goes off inside them, and they become . . . God, I don’t know how to describe it.”
He opened his eyes and stared blankly across the room, his dark little warren of odds and ends collected over the decades. Then he looked at his arm, touched his chilled skin, traced his fingers over the patterns marked on his flesh in shimmer-dark ink. Right there—the firebird, brilliant in its sparks, coiling from his wrist to his elbow. That was Jake, burned forever into his skin.
“Transcendent,” he said. “Like a phoenix, just before it dies . . . only they never rise again. It’s like they’re burning apart from the inside out. Like their souls come alight and they’re bleeding them out through their art. And I . . . I think it’s my fault. I don’t know what I am. Some kind of incubus, maybe. I’ve never met anyone like me. But because of me, they burn out. They die. And for a little while, I don’t feel so weak anymore.”
He swore softly under his breath. Each word was a noose, tightening around his throat.
“Every time, I hope it will be different. Every time, I . . . I become a murderer all over again. I can’t believe it’s not because of me. I’ve been in denial for too long. It’s like I’m being punished for loving, but I—I just want to figure out what’s causing this.” His grip tightened on the recorder; the plastic cut into his palms, the heat of the battery warming his hands through the casing.
“So I can figure out how to stop.”
He paused the recording and hit Rewind. The track skipped back to 00:00, then started to play. His own voice lilted out, crackling faintly, racked with things he wished he knew how to stop feeling when every time broke him all over again.
My name is Saint, and I kill everyone I love.
What would happen, he wondered, if he never fell in love again?
He stopped the audio. Erased the track, tap-tap-confirm, yes, absolutely sure. Started again, pressing his mouth to the recorder and feeling its plastic slickness against his lips like a dead, mechanical kiss.
“My name is Saint,” he said, “and I can’t remember who I am.”
He shut the recorder off, pitched it on the table, and walked away.
About Xen Sanders
Xen Sanders is a New Orleans-born Southern boy without the Southern accent, currently residing somewhere in the metropolitan wilds of the American Midwest. He spends his days as a suit-and-tie corporate consultant and business writer, and his nights writing genre-bending science fiction and fantasy tinged with a touch of horror and flavored by the influences of his multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual background—when he’s not being tackled by two hyperactive cats. He wavers between calling himself bisexual and calling himself queer, but no matter what word he uses, he’s a staunch advocate of LGBTQIA representation and visibility in genre fiction.
He also writes contemporary romance and erotica as Cole McCade. And while he spends more time than is healthy hiding in his writing cave instead of hanging around social media, you can generally find him in these usual haunts:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Twitter: @thisblackmagic
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/xen.cole
• Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/ColeMcCadeBooks
• Website & Blog: http://www.blackmagicblues.com
He’s recently launched the Speak Project, an online open-access platform where anyone can anonymously or openly share or read stories of abuse—a way for survivors to overcome the silencing tactics of abusers to speak out against what was done to them, and let other survivors know they’re not alone.
He also runs an advice column called Dammit, Cole, where he occasionally answers questions about everything from romance and dating to the culture of hypermasculinity, from the perspective of a male romance author:
Looking for more? You can get early access to cover reveals, blurbs, contests, and other exclusives by joining the McCade’s Marauders street team at:
To celebrate the release of Shatterproof, one lucky winner will receive $30 Riptide Credit and a $25 gift card to B&N or Amazon. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 10, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.
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