A Riff of Retribution
by Amir Lane
Series: Heavy Metal Hunters (Book 1)
Release Date: May 16, 2023
Cover Artist: Covers by Combs
Length: Novel / 76,000 Words / 329 Pages
Primary Plot Arc: Speculative Fiction
LGBTQ+ Identities: Gay
Keywords/Categories: vampire, vampire hunter, magic, norse mythology, gay, new release, announcement, giveaway, paranormal, music, rock n roll
Dead men are filled with life.
Dead men are filled with life.
Eleven years ago, world-renowned guitarists Hale and Aleksandr learned that monsters were real. Hale lost the love of his life, and Aleksandr lost his brother.
When the carnage was over, they vowed to make sure no one else had to go through what they did.
But since then, another band’s bassist has been killed at a festival, and she wasn’t the only one. Hale suspects a vampire was responsible, and that their drummer — the singer of his new band — knows more about it than she’s letting on. When a member of their new act is also attacked by a vampire, everything Hale has tried to keep in the shadows comes to light.
Hale has made a bargain with the gods for the power to heal. But he can’t save everyone.
The dead are rising. The gods are angry. And even they won’t be Hale’s biggest problem.
From USAT Bestselling Author Amir Lane comes a story of music, magic, and mayhem.
Warnings: Substance abuse, self-harm, mentions of attempted suicide
✨ Exclusive Excerpt ✨
Blood ran down Aleksandr’s wrist, forming a pattern on the ceramic bowl of the sink. His eyes followed the path of it, but it blurred and smudged together too much for him to read. He still wasn’t very good at reading blood. Bones were easier. He looked down at the line breaking his tattoos. Blood pulsed from the cut.
It burned. It made him dizzy. It was the best thing he’d felt in a long time.
Five years of recovery, wasted.
Aleksandr closed his eyes. They were trying to tell him something, he just couldn’t hear what it was.
The message was in his bones. It was always in the bones. It just wasn’t usually his bones.
He ran his free hand under the sink to clean some of the blood off and wiped it on a rag. When his hand was dry enough to get a good grip, he picked up the razor blade again. He could never explain why he did this. It didn’t make sense. Rational human beings didn’t want to do hurt to themselves. Rational human beings did everything they could to avoid it.
It hurt but somehow, at the same time, it felt good. It felt good to control the pain, the depth of the razor blade. He carved his way through the muscles, grimacing. The pain and blood made his head swim. He ground his teeth against it. If he paused, he wouldn’t be able to keep going. His fingers twitched as the blade touched sensitive nerves. Each digit went limp as those nerves were severed. He cut deeper, moving blood vessels out of the way. They were so small. How could they hold so much blood?
He could see the runes on his bones beneath the thin, translucent fascia. If he could just peel it off—
He scraped the thin tissue away with the edge of the razorblade, biting back whimpers.
“What are you trying to tell me?” he hissed through his clenched teeth.
The front door opened and clicked shut.
“Aleksandr, I’m home,” Elize called.
Aleksandr blinked, and the vision was gone. All that was left was the thin cut near his elbow.
How long had he been staring? Was she early, or had he really lost that much time? He grabbed the rag and used the clean side to turn on the shower, then pressed it to his arm to staunch the blood flow.
Back when he’d been doing this regularly, he just used tissues or toilet paper, or whatever he had on hand. He also hadn’t bothered cleaning up most of the time, unless he knew somebody was coming over. Now, he had to think this through better. If Elize found out he was doing this again, it would break her heart. That wasn’t even to speak of what Hale would say.
Dear Odin, please don’t let him find out…
He didn’t think he would be able to stand the disappointed look Hale would get. Just because Hale had been engaged to Aleksandr’s older brother, he thought he could parent Aleksandr.
He was right.
Aleksandr bandaged his arm carefully. It was going to scar. There was going to be another scar. Why did he have to be so stupid? There was going to be another fucking scar, and it was his own damned fault this time.
He shoved the rag into the bottom of the garbage bag and shut the lights. He peeled his shirt off, managing to keep from staining it with his own blood as far as he could tell, and then shoved his baggy jeans down.
Even through the bandage, the cut stung. He pressed his arm to his side. The heat of the spray at least eased some of the tension in his shoulders. He hung his head and closed his eyes. He could feel the Gods trying to talk to him, but since January, it was like there was frosted glass between him and them. It hadn’t been this hard in a long time.
The water ran red, then pink, then clear.
Sometimes, he considered going off his medication, but even if that was the reason he couldn’t talk to them anymore, it wasn’t worth it. As bad as he felt now, he remembered how he felt five years ago. He had to remember that. He had to remember the pain that had led him to that night. Anything better than that was survivable.
He left the lights off and kept his back to the mirror as he dried his hair and wrapped a bathrobe around himself. The fabric didn’t quite reach his feet, but it covered enough of his body that he didn’t dread catching his reflection.
As soon as Aleksandr opened the door, Våfflor padded up to him and stood on his hind legs. He yipped excitedly. Elize was in the kitchen.
“I thought you took him for a walk,” he said.
“He just misses you.”
Aleksandr crouched, careful to keep himself covered, and scratched behind Våfflor’s floppy ears. Våfflor licked his cheek, his tail wagging back and forth.
“All right, all right. Let me put some clothes on, okay.”
Våfflor followed him down the hall. He barked once and whined unhappily at being shut out of the bedroom.
“I’ll be out in a second,” he assured.
He didn’t turn the light on. The sun streaming in through the window gave him enough visibility that he didn’t have to fumble around his equipment strewn through the room. There was still a blood blister on his second toe from accidentally kicking one of the amps. He’d moved most of his things to the living room, but they’d had to move some of it back so Elize could record her yoga videos while her studio was being renovated.
He changed in the closet, well out of view of the mirror. It was easier to just avoid it than fight the urge to spiral into self-loathing.
Dark jeans and a pale blue dress shirt was probably excessive for dinner at Hale’s, even in April, but the long sleeves covered the scars. Even though he had tattoos all over them, he still couldn’t stand people looking at them. Besides, Hale’s parents were going to be there. Ivar Svenson and Dagmar Koppel had been nothing but good to him, and he still wanted to maintain a decent impression. He didn’t want to give any of them a reason to think he was slipping.
With the ugliness of his body covered, he finally turned the bedroom light on.
His face was pale enough that his short, blonde beard a few shades lighter than his hair stood out. He told himself it was just from the lack of sun through the winter. He sighed and rubbed his face. How pissed would Hale be if he cancelled?
Elize’s knuckles rapped gently at the door.
About the Author
Amir Lane writes supernatural and fantasy with LGBT+ characters. From the frigid and mysterious land of Northern Canada, Amir is obsessed with loud music and black magic. They spend most of their writing time in a small home office or doing the circuit of local coffee shops. They live in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence, and they strive to bring that world to paper.
When not figuring out what kind of day job an incubus would have or what a necromancer would go to school for, Amir enjoys visiting the nearest Dairy Queen, getting killed in video games, and watching cat videos.