CONTENT WARNING: Sex, blood and violence, not only separate but all together. You’ve been warned.
As I prepped my notes for work on Ties of Blood, I noticed that I have a lot of side characters who, for one reason or another, don’t get any “me” time. so, I’ve decided to remedy that in a collection of short stories called…
(You can find Kateesha in Shades of Gray & Legacy of Ghosts. Her story takes place in May, 1868, roughly a three years after the American Civil War. Also, another special guest appearance by Jorick )
Kateesha and Daniel steered their horses through the trees. The night clung to their shoulders like the black cloaks they wore, and they moved through it wordlessly. Ahead, shafts of moonlight danced into a clearing. Kateesha stopped and threw back her hood. Her dark skin gleamed and her mahogany eyes skimmed the surroundings.
“I can smell them.”
Her partner reined his horse to a stop and looked left to right, his eyes invisible beneath his hood. Though she couldn’t see them, she knew them. She’d gazed into them more than once, watched as his pupils flared and shrank with blood lust. They made her think of another set of eyes; eyes so dark they seemed black, fringed in heavy lashes and shimmering with a thousand demons.
He’d been her partner so many times, in more ways than one. They’d come from the old world together, just her, him and their master. She’d sworn an oath of blood to them both, though she knew she would break it a thousand times over if Jorick told her to. On his word she’d betray Malick and damn the consequences.
She thought suddenly of her master. Though the ancient vampire was shorter than she was, he seemed a giant. His long beard and flowing hair were the color of fresh snow, and his eyes were like staring into the heart of a lightning storm. When she’d last seen him, he’d sat at a long table and glanced absently at a piece of parchment. “It appears we have a coven in Arkansas that has overstepped their bounds. My daughter, you and Daniel will bring these wayward children back to us so that I may chastise them myself.” A dark look came from one of the council members and Malick added, “Gently, of course.”
“Of course, Father.” Though they used those titles, the relationship was not of human birth. Rather, he was her father in blood; her father in darkness. The mysterious man who’d swept through the brothel and brought her an immortal kiss, promising her a new life and a mate for eternity.
“Where are they?”
Daniel’s question brought her back to the task at hand. “Near.” She motioned towards the source of the scent. “It appears they’ve chosen to gather in the woods. However, their den is not far from here, if our information is correct.” She spurred on her horse, “Giddyup, Aethenoth.”
The animal whinnied and followed her directions at an easy pace. Kateesha breathed in deeply, as if seeking assurance. Yes, she could smell them still. Five men, or the remnants of them now made immortal. They gathered around a campfire, no doubt more for comfort than for warmth or light. Beneath their scent was the smell of human blood from more than one source. They’d made their meal and either kept the corpses or neglected to clean themselves.
The camp fire was suddenly visible between the trees and she slowed her horse to a walk. Old leaves crunched beneath his hooves and small animals scurried away. Though vampires could move silently, the horses couldn’t.
She signaled to Daniel and they stopped and dismounted. She tugged a sword from her saddle and motioned him to do the same. She hid the weapon under her heavy black cloak and crept forward. As they drew closer, she could see five figures huddled around the fire. They wore tatty, stained gray uniforms, relics of the newly ended war. Beards sprouted from their chins and faces, clotted with gore and blood. Seven bodies lay crumpled on the ground around them. Five wore the Union blue. The other two had dark skin and were dressed as civilians, or more likely ex slaves. All of their throats were identically torn out. The youngest, a boy of perhaps fourteen, still twitched. His eyes rolled in his head and his blood dyed his shirt crimson.
Daniel laid a hand to Kateesha’s arm. She stopped, an annoyed question in her eyes.
“Perhaps I should speak with them?” he suggested.
The word was cold, and he shivered under its power. “Because you’re a woman. Few men take orders from ladies.”
His reason was a lie and they both knew it. It wasn’t her sex they might take exception to, but her color. Though the human’s president had freed the slaves, and been shot for his efforts, the citizens of the south still held the same opinions they had before. “I’m no lady, but fine.” Her tone was a soft purr. “You play the mighty man, and I’ll stand in the shadows this time.”
Daniel drew to the fore and she followed a few steps behind. They were nearly within the circle of light before the vampires noticed them. Their heads snapped up in unison and they squinted uncertainly at their visitors.
Kateesha reached out and touched their minds. As she moved from man to man, she saw scenes of blood and death; battlefields, dead comrades, a bleeding wife, a burned house, the twisted bodies of children. Yes, war was cruel and it had fostered this coven. They’d been nursed on the teat of destruction and nurtured by prejudice and ignorance. It was a coven destined to cause trouble.
The blonde nearest to the dying boy spoke first, “And who might ya’ll be?”
Daniel opened his cloak and flashed the silver medallion he wore around his neck; three pieces of intertwined metal that formed a twisted knot. “We’re here on official Guild business.”
A vague understanding washed over them. “If I rightly understand, that there Guild is the vampire gov’ment, ain’t it?”
Kateesha snickered behind her hood and Daniel answered impatiently, “Yes. Your presence is requested immediately.”
They laughed. Daniel’s body tensed. “This is no laughing matter.”
”Maybe it is and maybe it ain’t,” the blonde replied. He stepped forward and adjusted his bloody coat. “Why don’t yer try invitin’ us nicely?”
Daniel ground his teeth. Kateesha moved next to him and silenced him with a thought. “I’ll handle this.”
“Is that a woman?” a redhead demanded. “This gov’ment’s sendin’ women ter do men’s work? Pshaw, we ain’t got nuthin’ ter worry ‘bout.”
“Don’t you?” she asked, her voice silk. “You are cordially invited to accompany us to the Guild’s fortifications where you will have an audience with our Master. Will you ever so kindly accompany us?”
They laughed again and the blonde slapped his knee. “Now that’s more like it. Good to see a woman what knows her place.” He turned back to Daniel. “Despite your right hospitable invitation, I’m afraid that me ‘n the boys will have ter decline on account a the fact we got too much work ter do here. The war may be officially over, but we reckon that with these new abilities we ought ter be able to start ‘er up again real soon. I reckon we could take a whole regiment by ourselves. Give them Yank bastards sumin’ ter think about.”
Kateesha’s laughter was light and silvery. The men glared at her, arms crossed over their chests. “And just what do yer find so funny, Miss?”
She dropped her hood and fixed them with her dark eyes. “I doubt you could successfully route a company composed of orphaned children, let alone a regiment.” She saw his reaction in his mind; saw what he thought her punishment should be for daring to speak out to a white man. It had been the punishment of another girl; a slave girl. Bound, ravaged and left to die. Kateesha’s hand went to her sword before he even spoke.
“Hey there! You watch what you say, you nig-”
The word fell unfinished. With a single stroke of the blade, Kateesha severed his head.
The men jumped back, eyes as large as saucers. The redhead cried, “Holy Jesus! Who are you?”
Kateesha smiled a broad, fanged smile. “I’m the devil, and I’ve come to collect.”
Of the remaining four, two ran. The other pair attacked, or tried to. Too young and inexperienced, Kateesha cut them down in seconds. The scent of blood filled her nostrils and stirred her in a way that nothing else could. She wanted it. She wanted the feel of it, the taste of it. She wanted to bathe in it while Jorick watched, but since he wasn’t there Daniel would do, just as he had before.
Her eyes flamed with lust and she grabbed his hand. “Come, we’ll catch the others.”
They raced headlong through the woods. Terror and youth made their prey clumsy and their lead was quickly lost. The men squealed. The leader, a brunette, tripped over a tree root and crashed to the ground. The redhead fell over him and landed in a horrified tangle of limbs.
Kateesha threw aside her sword and grabbed the redhead with her bare hands. She knelt, one knee in the middle of his back, and pulled his head back to expose his throat. Daniel stood over the brunette, his sword pressed to his chest.
“Oh sweet Jesus,” the redhead whimpered. “Please, in the name a the holy mother, have mercy. We didn’ do nuthin’. I swear. I swear we didn’t do nuthin’.”
She leaned down, her breath hot against his ear. “Isn’t that a pity, then? To die as a punishment when you haven’t had the fun of the offense?” She flicked his earlobe with her tongue and he whimpered. Her fangs scraped over the delicate curve of his ear and then, she bit. She clamped down savagely and tore. His ear came away in her mouth with a spray of blood.
His screams echoed through the trees. She spit out the ear and licked her lips, her dark eyes shining. The brunette vampire screamed and writhed under the point of Daniel’s sword. “Oh, God. No! Please, no!”
“Don’t worry,” Kateesha purred. “You’re next.” She turned back to her bucking, shrieking prey and buried her fangs in the side of his neck, under the bleeding hole where his ear had been. She ripped the flesh, peeling it away. His blood was hot and thick, and she gulped mouthfuls of it. His screams grew louder, higher pitched, more horrible as she bit into his shoulder, rending skin and shirt together in a mangled mess.
She met Daniel’s eyes. His nostrils flared and she could feel his desire; his need. The hot blood pulsed in her hands. She lifted a palm full and licked it, wiping the last of it over her face and her neck, to the collar of her cloak. She arched her back, and licked her lips, promising him anything he wanted.
He was weaker than Jorick had ever been. That small display was too much temptation and he broke under it. With a savage snarl, he threw aside his sword and set upon his terrified captive. The younger vampire screamed as Daniel’s fangs tore through his flesh. Hot blood sprayed out, coloring Daniel’s face and sandy hair.
Kateesha laughed and attacked her victim again. This time it was his wildly waving hand; his wrist. The bones snapped and popped and he shrieked. She could hear his terrified thoughts. He begged God to let him die, to let him pass out. Anything to end this torment. Thanks to his immortal blood, no such grace would be granted him.
The rest of his limbs cracked easily and she left him lay, broken and bleeding in a heap. Her heart raced and the smell of his death intoxicated her senses. But not just his death. The blood of his victims was still fresh in his system and not yet fully mixed. She could smell them; smell the negro and his life of labor, and the soldier and his prayers to see his new baby one more time. She could taste them and the cocktail inflamed her.
She peeled back her robe and gathered handfuls of the blood. She brought it to her mouth, and let the excess run through her fingers. It streamed over her heaving cleavage and down the bodice of her gown. She looked up to see Daniel watching her, his face and clothing covered in blood. The brunette vampire lay dead beneath him. His back was torn open. His broken ribs and spine were shiny in the moonlight. Next to him lay the squashed remnant of a heart.
A Quick kill.
Without words, Daniel moved to her. She pulled him to her roughly. The broken vampire next to her moaned softly, not so lucky to share the fate of his comrade. She wiped blood from his shoulder and smeared it over Daniel’s face and his eager lips. His tongue darted out and cleaned her fingers. Without breaking eye contact, he smeared blood over her cheek, down her neck. She leaned back and tore at her dress and the corset beneath. Cloth ripped beneath her impatient fists and she discarded the scraps.
With fresh handfuls, he painted her dark breasts in crimson. She moaned and ground her hips against his. He pressed back, his need a hard knot of urgency.
She tackled him to the ground. He writhed beneath her and she straddled him, rubbing her body against his. She stared into his eyes, not black but green. They weren’t the eyes she wanted to gaze into, but they would do for now. They would be a vehicle to her memories, to the night in the eastern territory so many years ago when she and Jorick had bathed in the blood of the rogues. She’d drawn scarlet symbols on his skin and licked him clean again. She could still remember his scent and the soft growl when he surrendered to her and the blood.
She closed her eyes and mentally conjured Jorick. Sightless, she ripped at the clothes of the man beneath her, no longer Daniel, but another. She tore away his cloak, his shirts, and ran her hands over his naked chest. He groaned her name; a plea to end the agony of his need.
A plea she would gladly grant.
With an inhuman howl, she sank her teeth into his shoulder and bit. His hot blood filled her mouth and the world shifted; pulsed. He bit back, his teeth sharp. The pain was delicious and then it melted into something more. Her every nerve burned, quivered, screamed. Torn between ecstasy and agony in a world of shimmering shadows and screaming desire. It no longer mattered if he was Jorick or Daniel or someone else. Only the blood and the need mattered.
Something pulled her from her trance-like absorption and she released Daniel, though he held on, his teeth buried in her arm, his expression glazed ecstasy. She turned her face to the broken redhead. He lay next to them, his gurgling mouth opened and his dying eyes wide. Kateesha laughed and wiped the blood from her.
“Do you want some?’ she asked huskily. “Do you want to die like you’ve never lived?”
Before he could answer, she sank her fangs into his good shoulder and his world exploded in a flash of nightmare pleasure.
Traveling by night, it took them a week to get to the Guild’s fortifications in Iowa. Half brick, half wood, what would soon be a monstrosity was only partially finished. Kateesha could imagine the coming grandeur, but she didn’t care. This was already the third location since she’d come to the new country. It would move again.
Malick waited in the audience chamber, a long, low room paneled in wood. Five chairs sat at one end, under an antique tapestry. He sat in the center chair, a pale woman on his left and a dark skinned male on his right; two of the five council members.
Malick’s thundercloud eyes swept over the newly returned pair. His question came like a gentle slap, “Where are those you were sent to bring back?”
Kateesha dropped to her knees before him. “Father, they were troublesome and we were forced-”
“Forced?” The room seemed to shake with his displeasure. “Would you lie to me? I can see the events in your mind! I see the orgy! Is that what you make of your missions? Do my orders mean so little to you?”
Kateesha could feel his fury. “No, of course not, Father!” She dared to look up and offered him her most winning smile. “They were of little use. Ignorant, uneducated, filthy-”
“As were you when I found you!”
The smile disappeared from Kateesha’s face and her eyes went as cold as ice water castles. “They deserved their deaths!”
The dark council member leaned forward. “It is not your judgment to make! Your job is to carry out your orders as they are given to you!”
“Yes,” the woman agreed. “You have disobeyed too many times, Kateesha. You are a dangerous element that has proved uncontrollable, and your partner in this is no better. Leave us while we decide what your fate will be.”
Kateesha felt the blood drain from her face and her stomach twisted. There was only one fate for breaking the laws: death. Panic consumed her and she threw herself prostrate on the floor, her hands on Malick’s feet. “Please Father!” she cried. “We’re sorry! We did not mean to disobey you! It will never happen again!”
“So you’ve said before,” the council woman answered sharply. “Yet here we are. Your words are lies that you shine with your charm. I will not fall prey to such traps. Now leave us!”
Kateesha snarled at her and turned her eyes to Malick. “Father, please! Forgive us! I beg you! Have mercy!”
Malick withdrew his feet and pointed silently to the door. His face was as unreadable as marble, and the blood in Kateesha’s veins turned to ice.
“Go,” the dark council member ordered. “We will call for you when a decision is reached.”
And so they went. Not just out of the audience chamber, but out of the building, to the stables. Their horses were too tired to be taken again. Kateesha threw a single, regretful glance back at Aethenoth as they rode away on someone else’s steeds.
The horses ran full tilt and only when they could take no more did Kateesha call a halt. Daniel slid from his saddle, his eyes on the lonely road behind them. “They’ll hunt us.”
“Perhaps. Would you rather have stayed there and waited for your death to be handed to you?”
His silence hung heavy. At last he answered, “No.”
“Good. Once the horses have rested we’ll need to find shelter. It will be morning soon.”
Daniel nodded and then, in a tone so low she could hardly hear, he asked, “Do you love me?”
The question caught her by surprise and she laughed. “Should I?”
He looked away. His mouth twisted unhappily. “We’ve been partnered on several missions now. We work well together. We-” he broke off but she could see the bloody memories in his mind.
“We fuck well together?” she asked unabashedly.
He balked at her language, but didn’t deny it. “I’ll do anything you want me to, you know that.”
She patted down the horse absently. “I’ve heard that a hundred times, or a thousand. That’s the second line every man uses, right after ‘you’re beautiful’.”
“You are,” Daniel said quietly. “I’ve never met a woman like you.”
“And that’s the third. Next you’ll promise me your undying devotion, and maybe your soul.” She made a dismissive gesture with her hand. “It’s the same. You’re all the same.”
Except for Jorick.
Daniel had no reply.
They rode for days. When they grew tired of running they took a farm house and kept the occupants for their dinner. They dragged their deaths out to a week, but then they drained the final child.
“We will have to hunt tomorrow,” Kateesha said as she mopped herself up.
Daniel nodded absently, his eyes still clouded with the after moments of their feast. His clothing lay in a heap beside him and the last of the child’s blood was smeared across his chest. He gazed at Kateesha as she cleaned herself and pulled on layers of white linen undergarments. A chemise, a corset, petticoats-
A knock sounded on the door. While Daniel went stiff, shocked back to the present. Kateesha sniffed the air and smiled. She could smell their visitor. She knew who he was and she knew what he wanted, but she was sure she could persuade him otherwise.
She wrenched the corset opened so that her ample breasts nearly spilled out the top, and carefully smoothed her hair. After a quick glance in the mirror, she dropped one strap of her chemise, leaving her shoulder naked and whispering to be touched.
That should be enough.
She opened the door and let her eyes drink in the man before her. Tall and lean with broad shoulders and silky hair as black as midnight. She knew how that hair smelled and smiled at the memory of it wrapped around her fingers.
His voice was neither hostile nor friendly, only impatient. “You know why I’m here.”
“No, Jorick,” she said innocently. “I have no idea.”
“Malick sent me.”
“Did he?” She gazed at him from under heavy lids, and let her eyes slide lower, past his belt. Her tongue flicked out involuntarily and traced her full, lower lip. “I thought perhaps you’d come to see me.”
Jorick drew back a step, his face hard. “I’m married now.”
Kateesha leaned against the door frame and pouted. “Yes, I know, and to such a plain, timid little thing. Can you truly be happy with her? Oren’s sister would suit you more. Even that little girl in Texas would have been a better choice. Sarita, wasn’t it?”
His nose curled with disdain. “You know I have no love for Spaniards.”
“She wasn’t a Spaniard, but a Mexican and she filled your bed easily enough.”
“There is a difference between sharing love and a bed.”
“And do you love this new woman, this Velnya? Can you really?” Kateesha was suddenly on him, her hands on his shoulders, her breasts pressed against his hard chest and her lips brushing his neck. “Can she really give you all the things I can?”
Jorick knocked her away. Surprised, she stumbled and landed on the floor in a heap of petticoat. She jerked to her feet, her forehead puckered in anger. “Don’t do that again!”
“I’ll do it as many times as necessary. Malick ordered me to spare you, so get out of my way!”
She reached for his mind and plucked the scene from it. The council was angry. They shouted. They demanded her blood. Jorick must be sent. Only he was strong enough to do what must be done without falling victim to Kateesha’s charms. But Jorick was tired. Newly arrived from a dispute in Indian territory, he wanted to go home. His little wife needed him. She sent terrified letters, afraid of the local population. Cattle had died. First only a handful and then by the herd. They blamed her. They called her a witch. But Malick owned him the same as he owned Kateesha. He’d given them his blood and gotten their unwavering loyalty in exchange. Jorick was nothing more than his dog, and his request was denied. Only… No. Privately, Malick made a deal. He would free Jorick from his debt if he spared Kateesha and took only Daniel’s life. Jorick agreed quickly. He had other things to attend to.
Jorick shoved past Kateesha and stormed through the house. She leaned against the doorframe and closed her eyes. She heard Daniel shout, and then she heard the scuffle. Wood smashed. Something ceramic broke to bits. Then, Daniel screamed. At the sound she had a sudden vision of his lust filled eyes locked with hers and something fluttered in her chest. She dismissed it cruelly. Daniel was nothing. He was a diversion. A replacement.
Jorick reappeared, a splash of blood across one cheek. Kateesha moved quickly and used her petticoat to wipe it away. He jerked back and glared at her. “I don’t have time for this.”
“Don’t you?” she asked, packing every innuendo she could into the syllables. “Velnya will keep for a night.” She caught his hand and tugged him towards her. “I’ve missed you, and I know you’ve missed me. Come, for one night it will be like it was. Do you remember that night under the stars, after we’d defeated the rogues?” She pressed against him again and looped an arm around his waist. “Do you remember the way they tasted? The way I tasted?” Her lips hovered over his throat. “I remember your flavor-”
As if he’d suddenly broken free from a spell, he jerked away. “No!” He stepped back and ran a hand through his hair. “No.”
“But, Jorick, I love you.” She reached for him. He caught her hands and held them away from him.
“No, Kateesha, you don’t. You love a shadow. I’m not that man anymore and now that Malick has released me, I am free, and I won’t be that man ever again. I don’t want to be.” He dropped her hands and turned for the door. “If you value your life I suggest you give the council at least a year to forgive you before you stage a return.”
He didn’t wait for her reply, but ducked out into the night. She glared at his disappearing figure with narrowed, burning eyes. How dare he reject her? How dare he turn his back on her? On a whim she could make any man crawl through the mud for her, begging for a word, a touch, a taste. How dare he resist!
She threw her pride aside and plunged out into the darkness. He stood next to his horse, one foot in the stirrup. She rushed towards him. “Dammit Jorick! You are who you are! You can’t run from your nature simply because you wish it to be something different! You can not take shelter in a falsehood!”
He paused to look at her. “That was never my nature, Kateesha, only yours and Malick’s. It is the falsehood I’m running away from.”
He swung into the saddle in a smooth motion and nudged the horse forward. Kateesha’s hands turned to fists at her side. “You can’t hide, Jorick!” she screamed. “You love me, and you know it! I was made to be with you! You belong to me!” Her words turned shrill and hysterical. “I will have you! One day you will beg me for mercy on your knees! Do you hear me?”
He didn’t look back. His only acknowledgement was a flippant half wave. Then, he spurred his horse forward and rider and animal raced away into the darkness.
Kateesha stood alone, her petticoats gleaming white under the moon and one fist raised as she shouted, “Do you hear me, Jorick? You’re mine and you’ll always be mine! Do you hear me? I own you! I own you!”
There was no answer. She dropped her fist and glanced back to the opened door. Inside Daniel lay in a pool of his own blood, shattered and dead. She shoved away the burgeoning emotions. She couldn’t afford to care. Daniel was of no consequence. Jorick was her goal. They were bound together for eternity, whether he understood that or not. He was hers and ultimately she was his.
Regardless, he’d chosen Velnya over her.
Only for now, she told herself. Only for now. One day he will repent his choice.
She’d make sure of it.
Next up is Nirel. I know zero about him, so it should be a good chance to do something random. I *think* there are only four left to go before I’m done and ready to put out the collection on Smashwords/Amazon/B&N etc. I intend to leave each story on Smashwords etc. for free and do the collection for $.99. Mainly it’s to put them on Amazon (who does not allow free books) but what the heck, someone might be willing to pay a buck for all of them in one file rather than downloading each one individually as there are 16 total.
- Claudius now on Smashwords! (joleenenaylor.wordpress.com)
- Vampire Morsels: Jesslynn (joleenenaylor.wordpress.com)
- Vampire Morsels: Kariss (joleenenaylor.wordpress.com)
- Elsa now on Smashwords! (joleenenaylor.wordpress.com)