Thank you for inviting me to participate in your November Birthday Bash! It's a pleasure to be here and spread the love and lust for all things paranormal and male.
It's always hard finding just the right gift. There's always the cute teddy bear and champagne...
So here's to wishing you another wonderful year of balloons, cake and frosting. Oh, um... the pin is in the mail.
Surprisingly enough, the couple I get the most comments on is Evan and Adel from Adel's Purr, my Elements of Love series. I have to admit, I really enjoy this couple. Evan is a very strong character and Adel, well being a gargoyle gives him a unique view of the world.
Adel sat perched on the balcony at Doc's residence and hospital. It was the wee hours of morning and Evan slept in one of the guest rooms maintained by the daemon. The warehouse assault that had freed many of the people now filling the hospice rooms Doc maintained had not saved everyone. Many had died both in the conflict, some from injuries that Doc was unable to cure and others like his friend and fellow gargoyle, Finn was still missing. The archbishop having escaped through the black blood spells and sacrifice of the lives of his priests had left them few clues as to where he could have disappeared.
But these weren't Adel's current worries. It had begun a couple weeks back while they were sitting in a restaurant in Rome. It had been a rather strange meal. Evan had refused to enter the Vatican proper, but upon Jude's prompting they had journeyed from Paris to Rome to meet with the Pope. The man had been much younger than either he or Evan had expected. They had been seated at a table outdoors, enjoying the day, with the Pope's personal guard surrounding them, protecting their leader. It had been so surreal because in that moment, regardless of his abilities, he'd realized if the Pope had wished them ill, he could have done as there was no way for him to extract Evan from all those men.
"I'm so glad you agreed to come to Rome." His Holiness said after some awkward introductions and the pontiff had requested they be seated at the table. His certain members of his staff entered the restaurant, emptying it of customers and staff except for the cook. Then his staff took over the duties of waiting on them and making sure the meal wasn't tampered with. "I apologize for all this, but as you are aware, someone is trying to kill me. So my staff takes my security rather extreme."
"No, that's quite alright, your Holiness." Evan frowned slightly and peering at the man who sat with them dressed from head to toe in a white suit, instead of the usual cassock.
"You're wondering about my attire?" The Pope chuckled. "It's an attempt to disguise myself and blend in. But surrounded as we are, I doubt very much it will dissuade anyone as to who I am."
"Well if you had come without the guards or maybe with one or two, and not taken over the entire downtown area in order to do so, I'd have said you might have been somewhat successful." Evan grinned at the man, who appeared to be only a few years his elder.
"I guess my days of slipping around unnoticed are past." The Pope said with a certain amount of chagrin.
"If you don't mind my asking, sir, how old are you?" Adel inquired from his standing position over Evan's right shoulder. The entire situation made him uncomfortable and so he remained on guard, ready to grab Evan and launch himself into the air at the first sign of deceit.
"I am 28 years old." The pope flapped his hands a bit at Evan's gasp and Adel's dropped jaw. "I know, its rather unheard of for one my age to become pontiff. But the church is not the same as it once was. I was raised knowing I would become pope and I was inducted into the roll when I turned 21. Much as my counterpart in India, the Dahli Lama, once his reincarnation is found, the child is raised with the knowledge that he is ruler of his people, I have been raised with the knowledge and education of our people."
"I had no idea." Evan frowned. "I just assumed you were chosen by the cardinals."
"I was, in a manner of speaking. I was a child among thousands seeking to enter the seminary in Rome. I tested highest among my peers for aptitude, was multilingual and one of my tutors later told me I have a peaceful countenance about myself. I'm not sure what he means, but somehow it aided in their decision and I was chosen at the age of 7 to become who I am today."
"I would never have considered the cardinals taking such a drastic change from the usual method." Adel stared out over the crowd as he spoke. "Not that it negates who you are in any fashion, it is just surprising."
"I believe it may be part of the reason I am being targeted. Even among the Cardinals, there is ambition and in making me pontiff, they circumvented the aspirations of many." The Pontiff sighed. "How about you, how old are you Evan?" he asked, clearly trying to lighten the mood.
"Twenty five, soon to be twenty six." Evan chuckled.
"Ah well if you are still in Rome, you will have to invite me to your birthday celebration. Although I suspect circumstances will have you back in the America's by that time."
"As you ..."
Adel ran a hand over his face and sighed, staring up at the clear star filled night sky. The day had come and gone, amid all the turmoil of Jude's disappearance and then his need for assistance and Finn's kidnapping... he'd simply forgotten and missed Evan's birthday. There had been no celebration of his heart's birth into the world, not that he would know what to do for a birthday celebration, in any event.
Skye twittered and rubbed against his thigh, the young griffin gargoyle seeking his attention like any youthful creature, with a desire to play. Of courses, where Skye could be found, Gabe was never far away. The griffin shifter seemed to find solace in the company of the hatchling gargoyle simply because of his form. Griffins weren't solitary creatures, usually found in large prides.
"What has you out here moping around by yourself while your mate sleeps?" Gabe asked.
"I'm not a very good mate." Adel grumbled and glanced over his shoulder at the large muscular blonde man behind him.
"That's not true. I've seen the two of you together and you dote on Evan. That man wants for nothing and seems supremely happy. Are you fighting?"
"No, but..." Adel wondered if he could talk to Gabe about his failing. If he didn't do something soon to fix things, Evan would notice his melancholy and realize it was more than just the fact Finn was missing. "Evan turned twenty six recently and I forgot his birthday celebration. I didn't even mention it on the day of his birth or wish him well."
"Yep that's a crime." Gabe chuckled sitting down cross legged alongside Adel. "But its not too late. It's never too late, especially when its someone you love."
"Are you sure? I mean the day is past. Don't I have to wait until next year?"
"No. Birthdays are a celebration of the people we love. The day on which we choose to celebrate that person's life and show them what they mean to us is truly insignificant to the celebration itself." Gabe grinned at the gargoyle.
Adel fluffed his wings and resettled them about himself as he considered, "But how does one celebrate a birthday?"
"It is different for each culture, and it was generally a celebration for children. A time when a parent would give toys, games or books to the child. Once past the age of adulthood, many no longer celebrate, or if they do, its necessities that a parent may gift to their offspring. At least those were the celebrations of the past. In this time where most children are raised by people other than their own relatives, may never even meet their mothers, few actually even adhere to the old ways of celebrating birthdays."
"But His Holiness made it sound like a birthday celebration was an automatic thing." Adel grumbled as he tried to understand.
"The Pope is a monarch and as such it probably is an automatic thing and has been for his entire life. The rest of humanity, I would guess it isn't something that is done anymore. If you don't have parents because your mother was a breeder in the temple and your father a sperm donor, who will care if you turn another year older."
"Yes, I can see that. Evan was raised by his uncle." Adel rubbed his chin.
"He may have grown up celebrating his birthday. You would have to ask him." Gabe smiled as Skye curled up in his lap, and he scratched the small griffin behind his feather tufted ears.
"So what is customary at these celebrations?" Adel asked. If the day wasn't overly important, but the acknowledgement was the important part, maybe he could still show Evan how much he loved him. How much it mean to him that his mate and rescued him from his own death.
"There was usually cake, presents and balloons." Gabe chuckled. He hadn't participated in many birthday parties as he'd lived his life as a loner for a long time before being accepted into Nico's family of paranormal's.
"I have seen cake. I've never eaten one. Evan tried to teach me to cook. Our oven has never been the same as I didn't know what a timer alarm was and attacked the stove when it went off. Evan cooks and I watch or help if I can." Adel snickered.
"I can just see that, you smacking the hell out of an oven while Evan comes running into the room upon hearing the crunch of metal and glass." Gabe broke into belly laughs that had him wiping tears from his eyes.
"I have nothing for him, no present."
"Although it has been a number of years, I think if we go down to the market, we might still be able to purchase balloons." Gabe grinned. "They use them for weather predictions and to test the winds for balloon travel.
"Lets go." Adel stood, picked up Gabe and Skye in one swoop and launched himself off the balcony.
"I can fly myself." Gabe growled, grasping onto Adel's shoulders as Skye squawked indignantly and launched himself into the air.
"Then you would have had to get undressed and redressed to enter the market. This way at least you will be able to enter the store." Adel knew he made sense, but didn't think Gabe liked flying when he wasn't in control of the action.
"Just land already!" Gabe shouted as Adel hovered well above the large well lit store, keeping to the shadows.
"Keep your voice down. I'm just looking for a dark place nearby." Adel tsked banking slightly to the right and setting down in the alley.
"Never again. When we go back, I'm flying myself." Gabe groaned, holding his stomach. "I never knew people who flew with me got that kind of ride. I will never make fun of them again."
"Oh come on. It wasn't even a bumpy ride." Adel crossed his arms over his chest, his frustration with Gabe extremely evident.
"Just give me a second." Gabe complained as he straightened. He took a few deep breaths, obviously needing to regain his composure. He shook his head and stepped out of the alley into the light of the street in front of the market.
"Why did you let go?
"I thought you had it."
Evan sat up in bed. It was barely dawn. He was still exhausted, but something was definitely going on. He could hear voices and the occasional bang was disconcerting, especially since his mate was missing.
At first he'd thought it was just someone dropping something. With all the wounded and sick that were being cared for by Doc, there were a lot of people in the building.
"I give up."
Evan got up and walked over to where his clothes were laid over a chair off to one side. He pulled on his jeans and t-shirt, forgoing his socks and shoes as the voices were obviously out in the main living quarters of this suit.
"What's going on out here." Evan said as he stood rubbing sleep from his eyes. Adel stood gingerly holding a red heart shaped balloon to his lips, still in the process of blowing it up.
"Umm... Happy Birthday! Bye!" Gabe hollered and then quickly ducked out the door.
Shards of colored rubber from the obviously popped balloons covered the armchair and coffee table. Evan watched Adel purse his lip, and pinch the end of the balloon.
"Its a birthday balloon. But every time I try to tie it shut, the pressure on my fingers causes my claws to come out and... Bang." Adel frowned. "Gabe had the same problem."
"I didn't know he had retractile claws." Evan shrugged his shoulders and held out his hand. Adel gave him the balloon and he knotted the end. "Very nice, who's birthday is it?"
"It is for you. I... I missed your day, but Gabe assures me that it is the thought that counts."
"For me. I haven't had something like this since I was a child." Evan grinned and stepped into Adel's embrace. "Thank you!"
"I don't have any presents for you. I'm sorry." Adel rubbed his face on the top of Evan's black dreadlocks. "You already have my heart, my strength and you know you are my life."
"Then I already have everything I need." Evan tipped his head back and pursed his lips expectantly. Adel didn't leave him wanting, but lowered kissing him gently.
Evan let go of the balloon, wrapping both arms around Adel's shoulders. A hissing sound followed by anxious chittering and more hissing interrupted their ardor. Adel released his mate just before...
"Skye!" Adel snarled and Evan laughed. The little griffin gargoyle looked like he'd pounced on the balloon. He and Cela, Evan's little dragon gargoyle were standing staring startled at each other with bits of red rubber covering feathers, fur and scales of both gargoyles.
"Best birthday ever." Evan clung to Adel and pulled him down for another kiss before whispering against his lips. "Now come back to bed. I want my present." Evan abruptly let Adel go and turned away from him, walking back towards the bedroom, putting a suggestive sway in his hips.
I hope you've enjoyed this little birthday interlude. Keep an eye out for the next book in the Elements of Love series, Gabe's Song. Coming in 2015.
Happy Birthday Amber!!