This was, in several ways, hard to write. Readers of my previous work will know from the start some tragic truths that had to play out for the continuity of the ongoing culture. To tell Jason’s story in its entirety, I had to step back to the beginning, while Joshua and Catherine worked to discover their love.
Haven’s King revisits a character from out of Earth’s distant past, one most are familiar with – Jason, former leader of the Argonauts and King of Iolcus. He and a band of loyal friends challenged Heaven for help in controlling the escalating violence among vampire clans. Together they forged the Community, and wish above all things to live in peace. That peace is shattered when Jason is struck by Cupid’s arrow and falls instantly in love with Mirissa Wellston, a Carrington police officer.
I made Jason fun-loving and quirky, like my own beloved life-mate. Although he takes his responsibilities with deadly earnest, he favors a more casual relationship with his fellow Council members. Jason was easy to write. Devon, for reasons readers of my first book know too well, was much more difficult. This beloved British gentleman was struck down, launching Haven into an all-out search for an unknown hunter. I hated writing a man beloved by all only to kill him off mid-way through the book.
Haven’s King answers many of the questions my readers asked regarding the Community. As Jason’s story unfolds, the history behind this unusual clan is defined and leads the way for the more detailed workings within Haven to be explored in book five.
In the following excerpt, Jason attempts to explain to Mirissa the danger they’re both in, danger caused by his ancient enemies, without compromising the Bargain and need for secrecy.
“Devon, Vincent,” Jason said with a happy glow in his voice. “May I present Miss, er, Agent Mirissa Wellston. Miri, Devon and Vincent are my oldest and closest friends.”
She dismissed his sudden familiar use of her nickname. He’d probably picked it up from Max. A sapphire-eyed man with a glorious head of long chestnut hair stepped forward, took her hand, and touched his lips to it. “Incantato. My name is Vincent.” Instead of releasing her hand, he held it aloft while he studied her with soft reverence. She wasn’t sure, but she thought she felt a strange sensation when his eyes swept over her, as if he were studying more than her appearance. “She is all you described and more, Jase. If you weren’t my dearest friend…”
“But he is, dear boy, and mine as well.” Devon, the Englishman, stepped forward and reached for her hand. His dark hair was generously salted with silver-gray. His faded blue eyes sparkled when she met his gaze. He placed a soft kiss on her knuckles and said, “Ah, Jason, my boy, you have indeed found the pearl of great price. Are you so certain you want to part with her?”
“Well, now that the two of you have opened your big mouths and set her on guard, I suppose I’ll have to find some way of fixing this mess. Miri, take a seat.”
She was so shocked by his friends’ greetings and Jason’s strangely serious manner that she sank onto the couch without comment, her eyes locked on him. He heaved a great sigh, cast both his friends evil glares, and they sat down somewhat contritely. When he joined her on the couch and took her hands in his, the look in his eyes was dark and mysterious, and filled with pain.
“Vincent, Devon and I belong to…well, a secret society. We, uh…” He looked at each of his friends, and they nodded. “We have enemies, Miri. Dangerous enemies. My involvement with you puts you at risk. I can’t have that.”
He was offering her a way out—another point of no return. A month ago, she would’ve gladly taken it. “You’re willing to sacrifice your feelings for me rather than see me in danger?”
“I’m glad you understand. It makes this easier.”
“What about my feelings?”
“You haven’t had time to develop true feelings for me. I wish it were different, but I’m afraid circumstances are making that impossible now. I’m not saying you’ll never see me again. Maybe once this danger has passed, well, who knows?”
The elephant put its foot on her chest again and shifted all of its two and a half tons on it. She had to struggle for the breath to speak. “Don’t I have a choice?”
“She does, you know,” Vincent said evenly.
“It may not make a difference either way,” Devon agreed. “After all, your heart is lost. Someone’s bound to notice eventually, no matter how hard you try to hide it.”
“I made a promise, Dev,” he argued tightly. “She cannot be involved.”
“Why?” she asked, cutting in to the increasingly tense conversation. “What promise? I don’t understand what’s—”
“Miri,” Jason cut in more quietly, “the town of Carrington is in danger. If I stay, things will get ugly, of that I have no doubt. Innocent people will be hurt.”
“Tell me what’s going on,” she begged over the lump in her throat. “You don’t have to tackle this problem alone.”
“I’m not alone, and the police can’t help. Not with this.”
“Then call the FBI, or the CIA, or the Secret Service. Homeland Security. Anyone, just…just don’t…”
“Sh-sh-sh,” he shushed gently while holding his arm to her in invitation. She wasn’t sure why she accepted it, and the comfort she received in his embrace brought tears to her eyes. “This goes much higher than anything you can suggest, even international law, I’m afraid.”
“There’s nothing above international law,” she argued, pulling away.
He brushed her hair back and gave her a sad smile. “When the time comes, I promise you will know all you need to know. For now, trust that my friends can handle the situation adequately. If I leave, I may draw the danger away with me.”
She looked to Vincent and Devon. Both men were watching the interplay between Jason and her with grave concern clear in their eyes. Jason’s eyes appeared on the verge of tears. She wiped her own from her cheeks with the back of her hand. “I…” She licked the dryness off her lower lip. He seemed momentarily distracted by the sight. “What if I don’t want you to go?”
His eyes instantly closed. She had a strong feeling he was conferring with his friends on a psychic level, because their eyes were also closed, and she sensed the power flowing between them. Without opening his eyes, he whispered, “Do you believe, deep in your heart, there’s a chance we could…I mean…” He took a deep breath. “I know we’ve only just begun, but now you know how I feel.” He opened his eyes and met her gaze. Power burned in the depths of his eyes. Great power. “Is it possible you have feelings for me? Have I already earned your trust?”
She started trembling and wasn’t quite sure why. “That’s a pretty powerful question,” she whispered. “I’m not sure I’m ready to answer it.”
“Not of you,” she said quickly and with certainty. “I think I’m afraid of the things I feel when I’m…when I’m with you.”
“Tell me, Mirissa,” he begged quietly. When she cast a nervous glance at his friends, he added, “You can speak freely, sweetheart. My friends understand all too well.”
She swallowed hard on her reluctance. “I’m attracted to you.”
“And this frightens you?”
“I’ve never…” She took a deep breath, but it didn’t clear the tightness in her chest. In a quiet voice she knew she couldn’t keep just between them, but hopefully conveyed her reluctance to make her feelings public, she said, “I don’t know if I’m falling in love with you, but…I…”
“You’re not ready for our relationship to end.” His soft statement started her tears flowing again. She hated him for it, that this strange weakness he opened in her heart should be made open to his friends.
“Maybe I should let you go.” She turned away from him. She couldn’t face him with the sorrow he would surely see on her face. “Maybe I was never meant to have these feelings. I’m not good at handling them.”
“Don’t be afraid.” He gently guided her back into his embrace, a soft smile playing on his lips. “Devon, why don’t you take Vincent and find out what happened to Mirissa’s clothing.”
“Quite so. Come on, Vincent. Looks like the show’s over.” Vincent chuckled and clapped Devon on the shoulder, gave her a friendly wink, and they disappeared up the stairs.