Happy 4th Bookversary to The Choice, book 2 in my series, The Faction!
The action in The Choice picks up fairly soon after the end of The Recruit. In The Recruit, freshly turned vampire, Neil (née Phillip) had a misstep involving his ex-boyfriend that could have potentially put the secrecy of the existence of vampires at risk, but the highly organized vampires took care of the problem with far greater expediency than Neil could have imagined. All his angsting was for naught.
Or so they thought. In The Choice, we learn that the problem was not solved after all. In fact, it’s escalated to the point where faction leader (and Neil’s bloodmate) Albert must decide whether or not to offer the troublemakers a difficult choice. Problem is, Albert’s judgment is skewed by concerns for his bloodmate’s feelings of guilt over having caused the problem in the first place.
As a freshly turned vampire, Neil had frozen in panic when he’d found himself face-to-face with his ex-boyfriend, Cameron. Neil thought that misstep and its associated danger was all in the past, but Cameron’s current boyfriend, Dennis, is like a dog with a bone, and a keen imagination. When the two men’s curiosity progresses to the point the vampires consider their secrecy to be endangered, choices must be made.
Now that faction leader Albert has a blood-mate, he finds himself second-guessing his decisions. Neil would be crushed knowing his mistake led to human deaths, but Albert shouldn’t factor that into the difficult choices he must make. Will Albert’s indecision put the entire vampire establishment in danger? Or is redemption only a flamethrower away?
Cameron worried his lip as his gaze flicked to Christine and James and their worktable, but only in a manner similar to how Neil had felt in the same situation. Dennis’s concern seemed more along the lines of being peeved because his plans had been derailed.
Albert sighed. He really should just end it here. The vamps looked as if they expected a signal from him at any moment. The situation called for it. And yet…
“Dennis, I don’t think you fully understand the implications of your behavior. You don’t really believe we can’t see through to the motives driving you, do you? Because you need to decide right now. Right fucking now. Decide if you want to live your life as one of us, truly accepting yourself as a member of our society, embracing the restrictions along with the privileges…or not. Everything you say and do literally screams that you’re looking for ways to break away. I don’t know if you ‘merely’ want to strike out on your own, which would be dangerous enough, or if you’re on a suicide mission to take us all out. But it’s obvious to each and every one of us that you’re contemplating one or the other.”
Cameron’s eyes widened, and he edged away from Dennis. Smart guy.
Albert continued. “Whatever you thought you could get away with, you need to recognize that it’ll never happen. Look inside yourself and ask…can you live this life, or not? Are you at least willing to give us a fair shot?”
Every last one of the security vamps in the room wore glasses—non-prescription lenses, of course—that contained a bit of vampire technology. Each flicked their gaze between Albert, waiting for his signal, and staring directly at Dennis’s heart, their thumbnails at the ready on the appropriate ring. The ring that would activate the focused heart-stopping beam originating from their glasses that, unlike the catatonic effect emitted by the implant, affected vampires and humans alike.
It would be a painless and sudden death. At least they’d never seen any sign that it wasn’t painless. Obviously, nobody lived to tell.
Certainly it was less painful than the death a vampire would face if the self-destruct feature in their implant had to be remotely activated.
Dennis looked around the room, then back at Albert. He whispered, “Okay. Sorry.”
Dennis drew in a breath. “I’ll…give it a fair shot.”
“Because?” Albert pressed. “I don’t want to die yet” would be the wrong answer.
Dennis’s mouth opened and closed. His chin trembled. “Because everything you’ve said so far has been true.”
Albert’s shoulders relaxed, and as if sensing the imminent threat had passed, the vamps did the same, standing down.
“Okay, then. You’re first.” Albert gestured toward the modified massage table, and Dennis approached like a dead man walking toward his execution. Albert’s hand twitched, like it had a mind of its own, wanting to scratch behind his ear to send the much-anticipated signal to the security team members. Instead, he said, “We’ve all gone through this procedure, Dennis. Christine and James are experienced and competent. Yes, it will hurt, but it will be fleeting—over in a flash.”
“Sure…” Dennis lay on the table, and Christine and James got busy strapping him down.