Story Excerpt
Sparkle & Purr

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"Hello, Davan."

Davan Solaris closed his eyes for a moment as he heard a voice he never thought he'd hear again. He drew in a deep breath and tried to steady his nerves before opening his eyes and turning around. It would never do for anyone to see an elder freaking out, even if he was freaking out.

"Hello, Manuel," Davan said as he folded his hands together in front of him, hoping that Manuel didn't see how much they were shaking. "It's been a long time."

And Manuel was just as gorgeous now as he was four years ago. It wasn't fair, really it wasn't. Davan wanted him to be old and ugly. He wasn't. He still looked tall and muscular and sexy as sin. If anything, Manuel had just grown sexier in the passing years.

"Four years," Manuel replied. "Not since the last Great Gathering."

"How have you been?"

It was agonizing for Davan to stand there and converse pleasantly with the one person that had almost destroyed him. It had been four years since they had seen each other. And Davan felt every second of it like a knife in his heart.

Manuel crossed his muscular arms over his chest and leaned against the wall. "Is that all you have to say to me after all of this time?"

"I'm not sure we have much to say to each other."

Davan certainly didn't have anything to say to Manuel. He felt everything had been said when he woke up in bed alone. He hadn't seen Manuel since. There had been no explanation, no note, not even a phone call. Manuel was just gone, along with all of his possessions. He had packed up and left in the middle of the night without a word.

That pretty much said it all for Davan.

"I'm needed in the grand ballroom," Davan said. "It was… interesting seeing you again, Manuel."

He quickly turned away and hurried down the long hallway before Manuel could say another word or stop him. Davan had envisioned seeing Manuel again. Somehow, despite the pain he suffered nearly every day, he never thought it would be this hard.

He wanted to scream at Manuel, to demand answers. He wanted to know why Manuel had left him in the middle of the night. He wanted to know why the man threw away all that they could have had together. And yet, he didn't. He was afraid of the answers.

Davan paused at the entrance to the grand ballroom and drew in several calming breaths. He didn't know how he was going to lock away his emotions when they were so close to the surface. He just knew he had to.

He was an elder now. He had come a long way from the gangly young man Manuel knew four years ago. He had poured all of his anguish into becoming the elder of fae clans. It gave him purpose and usually kept him too busy to think about Manuel.

And now the man was here.

Davan shook himself out of his deep thoughts when he saw the other elders gathering on the dais. He was required to be up there with them. Tonight would either make or break the paranormal community.

The Great War between the Paranormals had decimated them all. Hundreds had been killed, entire clans wiped out. In the twenty five years since, things had settled between the different paranormals to a large extent but there was still a lot of fighting going on—something the elders planned to end tonight.

The humans had become aware of the paranormals during the Great War. While they were pretty content to let the paranormals live in relative peace, they would not put up with discord, fighting, or the million other stupid things the younger people insisted on doing in the name of their kind.

The elders feared interference from the humans. They had a right to be. Enough of the paranormals had been killed during the Great War that they would not be able to defend themselves if the humans attacked.

The fighting had to end, hence, tonight's little gathering. The Gathering was called every February 29th, on leap year. This year, invitations had gone out to every unmated person of mating age in the paranormal world.

Even if attendance was mandatory, not all had shown. Still, the next few minutes would be interesting. Davan truly believed that a mating shouldn't be forced and that the council's decision would create more problems than it would fix. He was outvoted.

Davan stepped into the large room. He nodded to several people as he made his way up onto the dais to stand with the other elders. Even if he had been outvoted, he would still stand behind the decision of the council. He tensed when Elder Burke walked to the front of the dais. The shit was about to hit the fan.