Driven by visions of his soul mate, Tristan, Jinsu steps through the portal to Earth, leaving all he has ever known behind.. Seven months into their fairy-tale romance, and Tristan and Jinsu couldn’t be happier. But when Jinsu falls ill with a mysterious, lingering condition, everything changes. Jinsu’s magic is dying and taking him with it. Suddenly the couple’s desire to find a way back to Jinsu’s home world is more than just a dream–it’s a necessity. With Jinsu’s time quickly running out, Tristan is forced to seek help from someone he’d hoped to never, ever lay eyes on again.
Tristan awakens on Torottu, but the portal wasn’t meant for humans, and he’s been near death since his arrival almost ten months ago. Even worse, Jinsu has no idea who Tristan is—the return trip through the portal erased his memory of Earth, of their relationship, or Tristan himself.
Winning Jinsu’s heart again won’t be easy, especially if Kelan, Jinsu’s twin, has anything to say about it. Kelan loves Jinsu, too, and he won’t be put aside for Tristan. Not again. Tristan knows his only chance for happiness—and the only chance for Jinsu and Kelan—is to follow his heart.
Previously published by Breathless Press.
After taking Jinsu home and grabbing a light dinner for himself, Tristan drove across town, up and down streets once all-too familiar, to see the only person he could think of who might be able to help him. He pushed open the office door, taking note of the little faded metal welcome sign and the open 9 to 5 banner hanging crookedly underneath it. He’d arrived just in time.
“Well, well, well. Look what the cat dragged in. How you doin’, sugar?”
Tristan smiled at the petite platinum blonde behind the desk. He’d always liked Nancy.
Despite the fact that she looked like something out of an old mobster movie—big hair, low-cut blouse, gaudy makeup, chewing gum and all—she had that rare work ethic that made her more than just a receptionist. “I’m good. Is Bryan in?”
“Sure, hon. Have a seat. I’ll let him know you’re here.”
Tristan sat on the edge of a metal folding chair—god, Bryan was such a cheapskate—rested his left foot on his right thigh.
Before Nancy could stand up, the door behind her opened to reveal a tall, heavy-set man with closely cropped dark hair just beginning to thin. Older than Tristan, Bryan had started to show his age. “Nancy, do me a favor and—”
Nancy nodded toward Tristan. Tristan stood, the scrape of his chair on the tile far louder than he would’ve liked.
“Tristan?” Slight upward inflection in Bryan’s voice, as if he couldn’t believe Tristan was actually there. Well, that made two of them.
“Long time no see, huh, Bryan?” It was a lame way to break the ice, but how did one approach his former lover when he showed up at said former lover’s work, out-of-the-blue after three years?
“Hold my calls,” Bryan said, with barely a glance at Nancy. “C’mon in, Tris.”
Tristan cringed at the old nickname and followed Bryan into his office. The place was surprisingly neat—neater than Tristan had ever seen Bryan’s surroundings before.
“I’ve gotten better at housekeeping, as you can see.” Bryan gestured to the chair opposite his desk. “Have a seat. At the risk of sounding clichéd, to what do I owe this honor?”
“I need your help with something.” Tristan took a deep breath. Best to get right to it. He didn’t want Bryan getting any ideas or false hopes. Leaving out as many personal, private details as he possibly could, Tristan filled Bryan in on the events of the past seven months: Jinsu’s arrival—he didn’t mention the part about the dreams that had brought them together—his subsequent illness, and what Tristan had learned of Torottu.
“So…that brings you up to now,” Tristan finished. Bryan had sat quietly and listened throughout his speech, fingers steepled together in front of him, elbows resting on his desk, with that just-this-side-of-predatory gleam in his eyes that most people found alluring but Tristan had always hated.
“Huh. Well…it’s not really my line of work.” Bryan leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms.
“What do you mean it’s not your line of work? You investigate the freaky and abnormal.”
“Paranormal, to be specific. This…” Bryan shrugged. “I’m not saying I won’t help you. You know I’d do anything for you. I owe you after what I put you through.”
Tristan ground his teeth. Damn him for bringing up their past. Patience was a virtue when it came to dealing with Bryan, but Tristan could hit below the belt too. “I need your full efforts and attention. You can’t half-ass this. It can’t be like Detroit.”
Bryan straightened and curled his lip, looking away quickly. “Detroit wasn’t my fault.”
“You may not have caused it, but you did nothing to help. Understand, I won’t let Jinsu fall to a witch hunt.”
“What happened in Detroit—”
“What happened in Detroit didn’t have to. You involved the wrong people. You hung innocents out to dry; you threw your partners under the bus and nearly caused a citywide riot. I won’t let you sell Jinsu’s story and I won’t let you endanger his life. You keep the press out of this one. No glorious headlines, understand?”
“You’ve been back to the alley?”
Tristan bit back a conceited chuckle at Bryan’s change of topic. “Several times. There’s nothing there. Everything’s perfectly normal.”
“That may be and it may not. There are things that can’t be seen with the naked eye.” Bryan turned and pulled a book off the over-stuffed shelf behind him, thumbed through it quickly and then tossed it down on his desk. “You know that.”
“Jinsu’s certain he would be able to feel the magic if it were there.” Of course, that was only a theory, but having Bryan second-guess him was annoying.
“Sure, but you said he’s sick. That could be affecting him. I assume you’ve done some other research of your own?”
Tristan nodded. “I’ve been over every book of mythology and the occult that I could get my hands on.”
“Bah. We won’t find what we’re looking for in there. This kind of stuff doesn’t get listed in the public record.” Bryan folded his hands together and gave Tristan a long, lingering, thoughtful look. “I made a mistake with you.”
“Yeah, you did. Look, I didn’t come here for this. This isn’t about you and me. This is about someone’s life. It’s far more important than any petty bullshit.” On the verge of insulting, and definitely risky, but Bryan had never been good with subtlety.
Bryan quirked an eyebrow. “So we were petty, were we?”
“One of us was. I don’t want to argue about the past. Are you willing to help us?”
“Of course I am. I’ll need to gather my resources, make some calls. It may take time.”
Tristan sighed. Time was one thing they didn’t have.