Sample Sunday: Ashes of Deceit

Amaranthine – the exciting, action packed paranormal series from Joleene Naylor:

Pulled into a world of darkness, Katelina’s fate is intertwined with Jorick, a dark, enigmatic vampire. To stay by his side, she must navigate fields of intrigue, terror and bloodshed as they’re drawn from one vampire war to another. Join Katelina and Jorick in a world where vampires don’t sparkle and night is eternal.

Here’s an excerpt from book 4, Ashes of Deceit:

Katelina woke and blinked groggily. Cold air blew her hair in her face and she made to wipe it away, except that her arms didn’t work right. They weren’t the only thing. Her legs felt like lead and when she moved them nothing happened.

“She’s waking up.”

In her half coherent state it took Katelina a moment to recognize the voice. It was Kioko, the Executioner.

Executioner?

The last several hours crashed over her and she suddenly remembered. As she came to terms with the memories, she sought Jorick and found him, still unconscious, hanging over Ark’s back. She forced her eyes and mind to focus and realized she was on the runway of a rural airport, draped over Kioko’s impatient shoulder. Behind them was a small airplane and above them the sky was black; the stars blotted out by bright ground lights. A chilly mist gave the lights an otherworldly halo and made the air smell like damp, dead grass. Katelina shivered and wondered if she was in Iowa.

Probably, since we’re going to the Citadel.

Just that phrase was enough to fill her with fear. She remembered the last visit and her encounter with Malick, the head of The Guild and Jorick’s ancient master; the way he’d lain her mind bare and probed through it at his leisure. She didn’t think she could do it again.

In Ashes of Deceit Katelina and Jorick must rescue a captured vampire and discover who kidnapped him and why. The truth isn’t easy to find. As Oren’s attack on the Guild draws closer, Jorick and Katelina are led back to the Citadel. When the flames of war ignite, can they rise from the ashes, or will they be consumed?

Get the book from Smashwords AmazonKoboBarnes and Noble, or Apple or check out the Cyber Monday sale to get the Special Editions – all four books for only $6.00! 

A Gift – Happy Halloween!

By me 🙂

To celebrate one of my favorite holidays, i want to give you a gift, so, until Nov 2, 2012, download Vampire Morsels Short Story Collection FREE!

Just visit smashwords at :

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/209410

and add the book to your cart. At checkout enter the code:

HE87X

and that’s it! Feel free to share the promotion with your friends, family, coworkers… anyone who could do with a little vampire fun and have a safe and happy Halloween!

Patrick: The Official Cover & Synopsis (Maybe)

As for the status I am STILL waiting on my slow poke brother, but then I have three betas lined up – YAY!

Okay, so I posted a thumbnail the other day, but it was just a thumbnail and it wasn’t labeled “official”. So, here is the *official* version:

While the tagline is a bit of a spoiler, my thought was, “If you’ve read page one of Shades of Gray you already KNOW he’s dead, so it’s not going to come as a surprise. If you haven’t read Shades of Gray yet then maybe you should…”

Or maybe not. The writing style is different and I’m not one hundred percent sure it’s going to cross over as well. It’s written more like the short stories than the novels.

And on that note, here’s the *official* synopsis (unless I get suggestions and/or randomly change it) :

 

Before Katelina found love in the arms of her vampire Jorick, there was another man, a human.

When Patrick’s missing brother Michael returns, he brings with him a world of night and blood. Turned into a vampire against his will, Michael is kept as a whipping boy by the coven and begs Patrick to kill his tormentors. Reluctantly, Patrick investigates their creepy mansion. He is captured and claimed as a slave who straddles two worlds: one of light and one of dark.

Hoping to escape their servitude, the brothers find help from the mysterious Jorick, who promises sanctuary if they help destroy the coven. Forced from one unspeakable act to another, Patrick seeks redemption in alcohol, drugs, and the comfortless arms of strangers. When his two worlds collide in a scene of brutal violence, he realizes that he must forsake the light until he is free of the darkness.

Then Patrick meets Katelina. Though he knows he shouldn’t, it isn’t long before he’s falling in love. To be with her, he’s ready to step up his fight for freedom. But, all victories come with a price, and the cost of this one could be his sanity and his very life.

The dark, emotional prequel to Shades of Gray plunges into a black abyss of anger, misery and despair without the promise of a happy ending.  As with all prequels, Patrick is a spoiler-filled look at what came before and just may be the blackest of all the Amaranthine tales.

So what do you think? Love it? Hate it? Too long? Too short? How about the cover? Yes, I like to hear opinions!

Vampire Morsels: Velnya

WARNING: There is NO foul language, adult situations, violence, or misery. Read at your own risk.

This will be the LAST Vampire Morsel. I will now be working on Patrick’s novella.

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…

Velnya

(You can find mention of Velnya in Legacy of Ghosts. Traven and Jeda are in Ties of Blood & Ashes of Deceit. This story takes place in 1855 near Springfield, Massachusetts.)


Moonlight splashed on the leaves and the last of the summer grass. Velnya peered through the window and let the evening breeze kiss her skin.

“Turn your head, ma biche!”

She is slipping back to French. Oh dear

Velnya did as ordered. Her sister’s brush strokes were more violent than necessary, and Velnya bit her lip to stop a complaint.

“Place your hand just here.” Jeda pressed her fingers against her skull, and Velnya obeyed. This was not the way she had imagined the preparations for her wedding day. In her mind there was a number of cheerful bridesmaids snipping flowers and giggling, discussing the mysteries that young ladies could only speak of behind closed doors; the dreams, the possibilities, the endless years stretching out before them that would promise them happiness.

Instead she had her sister and her cold, angry eyes staring down at her in the mirror.

It was more than she could bear.

She turned in her seat and caught Jeda’s pale hands in her own. “Let’s not fight. This should be a happy occasion!”

“And it would be, if you were not going so far away! Why must he take you to the Nebraska territory? He has a fine house here!”

Velnya sighed and drew her hands back. “I’ve told you already. He’s worried that the hostility between the states will turn into something more serious, and he wishes to be as far from it as possible, and of course he wants to move farther away from his master.”

Jeda’s voice was controlled, but her eyes narrowed dangerously. “The same master he moved here not two years ago to be near? Why the sudden need to get away? And so far away?”

Velnya fidgeted with the lace on her sleeve. “I know, it is far. But not so far as it could be. It’s not as if we were going to a different country.”

“For now,” Jeda bit back. “Who knows what he plans to do in another year, or five!”

Velnya smiled softly. “Of course we won’t. What purpose would such a move serve? Oh, Jeda! It really isn’t so very far as it could be, at least there will not be an ocean between us, and we are not going immediately.”

“No, you will go to Virginia first, to honeymoon on his plantation – another home he will leave behind – and then you will go to the wilds. There is nothing there, only dirt and shacks made of sod! There won’t be any of our kind!”

A soft rap sounded on the door and Traven’s voice floated through, “May I come in?”

Velnya glanced down at herself. She was properly dressed, it was only her hair that wanted finished.

“Yes,” Jeda called, and forced Velnya to turn back. She jabbed a pin into a coil of hair forcefully and added, “Hold still.”

Velnya sat motionless and watched in the mirror as the door opened and Traven walked in. His chestnut hair gleamed in the candlelight and his clothing was more ornate than was the fashion, a remnant of their earlier lives, before they became what they were now.

Vampires.

Velnya had been one for so long, a century at least. Each night the moon had risen to shine on Jeda and her husband and Jeda’s lonely younger sister. Though Velnya was with them, she was always alone; the one who allowances must be made for, the extra, the third wheel.

Traven stopped next to Jeda and spoke to her in soft tones; the furniture had been moved, the guests were ready, the flowers were set, the minster had arrived from Springfield. The words were unimportant. What did men and women have to talk about but the mundane? What mattered wasn’t the conversation, but the way they stood near one another without shyness. The way Jeda’s eyes would stray to Traven and something would soften in their depths. The way they said goodnight to one another every morning.

Velnya was tired of watching it and not having it for her own.

But Jeda wasn’t happy. “It’s not too late,” she murmured. “The wedding could still be postponed until we can convince him to stay. If he truly cares for her he will understand.”

“And what if he doesn’t?” Traven hissed back. “She will not find a better match. He’s an Executioner, Jeda! No, the head of the Executioners! Think of it! You know who his master is! Imagine having such an ally!”

“I am not interested in an ally, but in a husband for my sister! One who will not drag her away to the wilds!”

Traven took her hands and his voice turned into a soothing lullaby, “And would your mother not have said the same of me, bringing you here?”

“That is different! We don’t have to live in a shack and bury ourselves in the dirt!

“And neither will they. They will have a house and all the things of comfort, ma mie. Can you imagine one of his rank and privilege going without? No, he will have only the best and so will your sister. Being gloomy is easier than being cheerful. Instead of seeing the clouds, the separation, you should see the silver lining, such as your sister’s happiness. ” He looked past his wife and met Velnya’s steady gaze.  Something in his eyes said it wasn’t her happiness he cared for, but the advantages the match might bring him. “Have you asked Velnya what she thinks?”

Jeda pulled away from him and back to her sister. “Yes.”

“And?”

“She says she is happy in this match.”

Traven gave a satisfied nod. “As such, there is nothing more to discuss. Velnya wishes to be married, I have given my blessing, and even now the guests and groom are gathered.” He bowed to the ladies and added meaningfully, “ Let us not leave them waiting.” Then he slipped out the door.

Jeda finished her work in silence. Velnya watched her progress in the mirror and noted that she wiped her eyes more than once. Each tear filled Velnya with trepidation.

Despite the assurances Traven had given, they knew nothing of this Nebraska.  From what Velnya understood it had only become a territory a year before. She had never seen a frontier and had no idea what to expect. Would there be wooden houses with pianos and chandeliers and carpeting or would it be shacks of sod – whatever that was –  as Jeda insisted? Velnya had heard of vampires that, with no shelter from the sun, were forced to dig holes to protect themselves in the daytime. Would she really have to stoop so low? Would they not have proper coffins in a dark room or cellar? She thought of lying under the earth with the worms and the bugs, like one who was dead, and shivered. Surely Traven was right; he had to be.

Jeda helped Velnya to her feet. She placed the veil, then stepped back to eye the effect. When she didn’t speak, Velnya prompted, “Is something amiss?”

“No. It is perfect. You are perfect.” Jeda turned suddenly stern. “Promise me that this is what you want.”

Velnya swallowed hard and a thousand doubts suddenly screamed through her brain. Is it what I want? Do I want to go to the Nebraska territory? Do I want to be married? Or do I want to watch my sister and always be on the outside?

She knew the answer to the final question, and it made the rest superfluous.

“Yes. I want to marry him, Jeda.”

Her sister picked up the bouquet from the washstand and weighed it in her hands, as if it was a physical manifestation of her options. “You know he will be gone much of the time with his work. You will be alone.”

“Only at first,” Velnya assured her. “He’s going to speak to his master and ask to be set free. He’s more than paid his blood debt. Once he does, he will come home to stay. ”

“And will his master let him go?”

It wasn’t something Velnya had considered. “Why wouldn’t he? What could a master gain by holding on to their fledgling? After all, Henri let Traven go.”

Jeda made a soft noise in her throat and looked away. A secret glittered in her eyes, but it was one Velnya didn’t care to know, so she let it pass without comment.

A soft knock sounded on the door. Instead of Traven, it was a woman with hair almost as black as the sisters’. A small boy hung off her hand, his eyes.  Velnya recognized them as friends of her fiancé.  They were his neighbors in Virginia, and they were vampires, too.  That they had made the journey to Massachusetts said much about their relationship with him.

“Yes?” Jeda asked politely.

The woman – Mrs. Jesslynn Cotterill, if Velnya remembered correctly – replied, “Mr. Laurent asked me to see if you were ready.”

“Yes. Tell him to start, please.”

There was a long moment as the two dark haired women surveyed one another; an invisible clash of wills that washed past Velnya. At last Jesslynn broke away. “Of course. Come, Alexander.” Then she tugged the child out the door.

As soon as they were alone, Jeda moved to a bureau and removed a small box. She handed it to her sister. “I believe Mère would want you to have this.”

Velnya opened the box to reveal – “Momma’s cross.” She lifted it out gently and held it in her palm, turning it this way and that so that the candlelight reflected on the silver.  “She gave this to you.”

“No, she gave it to us.” Jeda stuffed the bouquet in Velnya’s surprised hands, then tied the necklace around her neck. “Wear this always, ma biche, and it will bring you luck.” She blinked back the emotions. “Come, they will be starting.”

The words had barely left her mouth when the music began.  Jeda gave her sister a last look and a quick hug, and then hurried through the door to make her descent as the matron of honor.

Velnya took her place in the hallway and waited nervously for her cue. She could see Traven standing at the bottom of the stairs, ready to walk her down the aisle and give her away. It wasn’t that she disliked Traven. In his own way he had done what he thought best for all of them, but she always felt that beneath the surface of his smooth words and suave demeanor was something coiled, like a snake, waiting for the opportune moment to break lose and reveal his true intentions.

I won’t need to worry about it any longer, she told herself. Nor would she need to worry for Jeda’s safety. She was his wife. No man would allow harm to come to their own wife.

The first strains of the wedding march swirled up the stairs and Velnya straightened her shoulders and glided down the stairs. Her eyes moved from the flowers and gleaming candles, to the assembled guests, each dressed in their finest.  Her fiancé had very few guests; only his neighbors from Virginia and a dark haired man he’d introduced as Jamie. The rest were acquaintances of Traven and Jeda, part of the burgeoning vampire society in the area.

At the far end of the room, between two large gilt candleholders, stood the minster – The Guild’s official  minster, no less – in his robes and finery, the bible in his hands. And in front of him stood her fiancé. His dark hair hung down his back and he wore his usual black suit. What was different was the rose in his buttonhole.

Though he couldn’t see her face, she felt as though he met her eyes, and a smile stole across her lips. In his face she could see the reflection of her girlhood dreams. Here was her future, her fairytale prince, the man that would take her hand on winter strolls and whisper good night in her ear. His were the arms that would shelter her when she rained tears and the laughter that would celebrate when she bubbled with joy.  

And he would be hers for eternity.

She wouldn’t have to be alone ever again.


 *************

This is the last for the first collection! Yay! Have to do some editing and then I’ll publish it in July I imagine. Whoo-hoo! 

Vampire Morsels: Troy

WARNING: Language, violence, male/male sexual situation

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…

Troy

(You can find Sarah in Shades of Gray. This story takes place sometime before Shades of Gray. I don’t know when. It doesn’t really matter. )

Troy leaned back against the metal building and stared at the sky. Shreds of clouds drifted past the full moon, like tattered silk, and a lone bird called in the distance. The sound was harsh and eerie.

It was lost on Troy.

God, I am so fucking bored. I don’t know why Claudius put me on greeting duty.

But there was only one guest left to arrive and then he was done.

The noise of a motor reached his ears and his shoulders tensed. The sound grew louder and a black car appeared, a cloud of gravel dust trailing behind it. Troy stood and stuffed his hands in his pockets as the vehicle pulled to a stop.

The back passenger door opened and a tall, thin woman climbed out. Her hair was as black as the sky and her expression cold as ice. She sniffed disdainfully and lifted the hem of her scarlet dress, as though the slowly settling dust had contaminated her.

Troy muttered to himself and then moved to meet her. He gave her a once over that left a leering smirk on his lips. Her ass wasn’t bad, but she didn’t have much in the top department. Ah well, not like he was gonna get her, anyway. She was there for the big boys. Claudius didn’t have a chance either, though no one had better tell him that or he’d have one of his fits.

The woman’s cold face got colder. “And you are?”

Troy cleared his throat loudly and made a show of a low, sweeping bow. “My master Claudius bids you welcome, madam. Allow me to escort you, and if there is anything else I can do to make your stay a… pleasurable one…” he trailed off and let the smirk demonstrate his meaning.

“That won’t be necessary,” she snapped. Her words danced with a foreign accent, Italian maybe? He didn’t know, and he didn’t care. Like the rest, she was a self absorbed, bossy bitch.

“However, you can keep Costus entertained.”

Her random statement pulled him back to the conversation. “Costus?”

She motioned to the car, as if that was an answer, and then walked purposefully past him, towards the tin building and a pair of guarded double doors. “I do hope it’s better inside than outside!”

Troy didn’t bother to explain the subterranean den concealed by the small metal structure. Why bother? The bitch would see for herself. Maybe he’d get lucky and she’d get lost in the labyrinth of tunnels before she reached the throne room and the conference.

The guards opened the door and leapt out of the way quickly. Troy watched her disappear inside, then turned back to the car and scratched his bald head. “Who the fuck is Costus?”

The back driver’s side door opened and a sulky teenage boy climbed out. Dark messy hair obscured his eyes and the set of his shoulders said he’d rather be anywhere else. His thoughts were the same.

Just the kind I like.

The boy slouched around the car and threw his bangs from his face with a jerk of his head. Cold, dark eyes gave Troy a once over. “Who are you supposed to be?”

Troy returned the long look; from the kid’s leather footwear, past his pressed pants , sharp blazer, and the open neck of his crisp white shirt. “First tell me who the fuck you are.”

He sniffed disdainfully. “I’m Costus, obviously.”

“And obviously I’m the asshole who’s stuck babysitting you while your momma plays with Claudius.”

The change was instant; the kid went from sulking boredom to raw fury. “She is not my mother, you insolent-”

 Troy snorted. “I don’t care who she is. I’m not stuck with her, I’m stuck with you. Let’s go.”

Costus’ anger flickered. “Go where?”

“I’ve been greeting the envoys all night and haven’t had time for more than a snack, so I’m hungry.”

Costus looked ready to argue – and he was. Troy could hear the thoughts bubbling through his brain. He didn’t want to take his car, didn’t want the driver to know where he was going or what he was doing. His sister – That’s who she is, not his mother. I knew they looked alike – wouldn’t like it. She’d told him not to go anywhere and charged the driver with keeping him out of trouble. Then she’d lectured Costus. He was tired of being lectured. He wasn’t a child, and hadn’t been for two hundred years.

Bingo.

 Troy’s shrug was fake casualness. “Unless you think your mom would get mad?”

As he expected, that did it. Costus’s face twisted and he snapped, “She is not my mother, and I don’t care if she’s angry!” He turned and jerked the back door open. “Are you coming or not?”

 

The interior was black leather; the smooth, sensual kind.  Troy briefly imagined the kid’s naked skin on it, white against the black. Kid. Though he called him that, he wasn’t. Costus’ thoughts had betrayed his age. Hell, he was older than Troy was by nearly a century. That was the beauty of vampirism. Age was relative; it just depended on how you looked at it, so everyone was only as old as you wanted them to be.

The town was nearby and there wasn’t much to it. It was larger than some of the others, but it was nothing like home. Not that Manhattan had been a great place to live, especially not the part he’d been in. Hell’s Kitchen, they’d called it. The name fit in a way that people who’d never been there couldn’t know. Or at least it used to fit. Last time he’d been there it was full of high rise bullshit and nothing he recognized. Sure, some of the old buildings were there, but they were occupied by suits and yuppies. Oh well, all the old gang was gone too, so it seemed fitting. Not like he needed any of them now, anyway. Truth be told, he didn’t need anyone.

Except for some fun.

The driver glanced back to them. “Where would you like to go, sir?”

Costus looked at Troy from the corner of his eyes, as if seeking the answer.

Oh yeah, this kid’s like putty.

“We’re hungry,” Troy barked. “Take us to a restaurant – a nice restaurant.”

“Erm. A restaurant… sir?”

“Do you always talk back to your superiors?” Troy demanded with authority. “I don’t know what kind of a coven they’re running, but where I’m from, the low men on the totem pole show the proper respect and do what they’re told!” As if to seal it he met Costus’ eyes. “Is this how you let them treat you?”

“No!” the kid cried with moral outrage. He pounded his fist into the seat. “Do as you’re told, Piotr!”

“Yes, sir!”

Troy could hear the driver’s worried thoughts; worried about being demoted, worried about being killed. Worried about being kicked out of the coven and left to fend for himself. He was a vampire like them but he was new – really new. Troy saw a flash of thought, a half formed image of a pretty girl with a bloody face whispering, “Do you want to be like me, pretty Piotr?” And then she was gone and Piotr was alone in the rain and he didn’t understand.

Good. He knows what it is to be alone. He fears it. Where there’s fear, there’s control.

Troy smiled, but not kindly. “You better listen up, there, Piotr, or they might have to replace you with someone competent.”

He could feel Piotr’s fear double.

 

The restaurant was attached to a hotel. It was nice, but it wasn’t the million dollar kind. There weren’t any of those around. Piotr parked the car and nervously hopped out and opened the back door for them. Troy climbed out and straightened his leather jacket. Costus got out behind him, a frown on his face.

He doesn’t understand, but he will.

Troy motioned to the kid and headed for the door. Like an uncertain puppy, Costus followed into the lobby and to the desk where a lady asked for their reservations. He saw it in her mind; there’d been a cancelation. The Whites- whoever the hell they are – weren’t coming. That sounded like the perfect table to him.

He fished around in her head for their full names but could only get one: Ron. That was enough.

“Ron White said he had to cancel his table and he thought maybe we could have it instead.”

She looked doubtful. “You’re friend of Mr. White?”

“Either that or he’s just calling strangers about his reservations.” He gave her a tight, friendly smile. “Ah, come on honey, I bet you don’t get paid enough to do detective work on everyone who comes in here. The bosses probably don’t appreciate the work you already do. No need to make more for yourself on our account.”

He heard her agree silently. They didn’t pay her enough, and the manager forgot her birthday. It wouldn’t have been so bad if she wasn’t sleeping with him. But he still forgot it. The bastard!

“I could speak to the manager and see if he thinks it’s okay?” Troy suggested.

“Oh, that won’t be necessary.” She motioned to a passing girl. “Show them to table twenty-six.”

They wound their way through restaurant, past clinking glasses and chattering diners. The table was in the center of the room, under a heavy chandelier. The old fashioned version of wealth.

The young lady hurried away and left them with a pair of menus. Costus blinked at his, and then at Troy. “You know these White people?”

“Sure, kid. I know everyone.”

Costus’ forehead seemed to fold in on itself. “I’m not a kid,” he hissed between his teeth.

Troy’s return grim was wolfish. “My mistake.”

When a waiter appeared, Troy ordered for both of them. Once they were alone again, Troy leaned back in his chair and surveyed the room. “What do you prefer? Boys or girls?”

“Girls!” Costus snapped a little too quickly, his cheeks slightly pink.

Bullshit. You’ll settle for anything that comes your way. Boy, girl, what’s it matter to you? Once the fangs are in they all feel the same.

Only they don’t.

Troy ignored Costus’ vehemence. “Take a look around and find one you like.”

The kid gave the room a casual glance; the kind of casual glance where the owner was secretly cataloging everything and everyone. Troy listened to his inner comments; this one was too fat, another too old, another too young. One was too skinny and a fifth was unattractive.

“That one,” he said finally, and nodded towards a girl with black hair and eyes the color of shadows. She reminded Troy of Costus’ sister, only without the attitude.

He didn’t mention the resemblance. “All right. Keep an eye on her.”

 

Their food came. They pushed it around the plates and Troy even tasted some of it, then spit it back in his napkin. Costus wasn’t as good at the charade. His back was rigid, his shoulder’s stiff, and he looked toward their prey far too often.

He’s gonna spook her.

He needn’t have worried. She was dining with an older lady – an aunt – and when Troy reached for her mind he found it all giggles. She noticed Costus’ attention, and she liked it. She was already planning on how to get rid if her aunt for the evening.

And then, she did.

She and her aunt disappeared towards the lobby and Troy climbed casually to his feet. He snapped his fingers impatiently, “Waiter! Check, please!”, motioned to Costus and then stalked out after them. He made it outside in time to see the pair separate; the older lady hobbled off towards her car and the girl made a show of stopping to dig through her purse for an imaginary “something”, her eyes on the building and her secret heart hoping that the “hot guy with the dark hair” would come out any second.

It evidentially took Costus a couple of minutes to deal with the bill, and when he stormed through the door he looked as angry as anyone who’s ever been left with the check. Troy caught his furious eyes, winked and subtly nodded towards the girl, as if to say, “There she is, tiger.”

He got the hint.

Troy leaned against a planter and smoked a cigarette while Costus stumbled through his opening lines. Her name was Andrea. He was just passing through. She was just recovering from a messy breakup. He was single. It went on through one cigarette and half of another, then Costus invited her to go with them.  She giggled and said she shouldn’t.

Then, of course, she agreed.

Troy had already spotted the car in the parking lot and led the way. Andrea asked who he was and Costus explained him away as an uncle. She seemed to find that appealing.

A family girl.

She squealed when she saw Piotr. “Oh my God! You have your own driver!” Troy could hear her thoughts clicking away; visions of dollar signs, luxurious mansions and private jets. She thanked her lucky stars for finding a rich boy. It was every nineteen year old girl’s fantasy.

Nineteen? Huh. She looks twenty.

They climbed in the backseat together, Andrea in the middle. She blushed and giggled and talked. And talked. And talked.  “Oh wow, look at the seats! Oh! They’re so smooth. I’ve never been in a car like this. Wow, you must be rich. What do your parents do? My father works for the railroad and my mother’s a teacher. So this is your uncle? What does he do? He looks like a rock star in that leather jacket. Oh my God, is that it? Are you guys rock stars or something?”

Troy tipped her a wink. “Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone, honey. We’re traveling incognito.”

She put her hands to her face and suppressed a squeal. Questions followed; what band were they in? What kind of music did they sing? Had she ever heard of them?

Troy put his finger to his lips, and she fell silent. He leaned close to her ear, as if to whisper a secret. He could smell her hair; honey and peaches. What an interesting combination. Her skin smelled like citrus with a hint of flowery perfume. Under it was the scent of her blood. Warm, salty, thick.

His words were more breath than sound, “If we tell you, we’ll have to kill you.” He laughed softly at his own joke, and she smiled nervously and leaned away. He could hear the alarm bells ringing in her head. Something wasn’t right. She could feel his malintent.

As does most prey, just before the predator strikes.

With lightning precision, he struck. His fangs sliced through the pale skin of her neck, just below her jaw. She shrieked and tried to climb into Costus’ lap, her arms and legs flailing in the confined space. Troy roughly pulled her back and grabbed a fistful of her hair.  He jerked her head to one side, to give him better access. More blood.

With the blood came the visions.

She was six. Candles burned on a birthday cake. She cried because another girl was mean to her. She told her she was ugly. Poor little ugly girl in her birthday dress. Mother soothed her. Told her she had guests waiting.

The scene changed.

Snow fell and cocoa steamed. Her best friend lay on the couch with a bowl of popcorn. They watched horror movies. The TV flickered. A Hollywood vampire snarled, blood on his face. Artificial, yet somehow more believable than the real ones.

Believable because they weren’t in the middle of nowhere New York. Real vampires wouldn’t be there. Not really.

Or so she thought.

The visions pounded over him, and he sought the worst ones; the tears, the pain, the agony. Breakups, broken hearts, loneliness, grief. He felt them all, just as she had, one after another breaking over him like waves on the shore. She felt them too, as raw and fresh as if they were new, and she screamed.

He could still hear Costus, like a small beating light at the edge of his peripheral vision. Troy broke away from Andrea’s streaming consciousness to concentrate on him. Costus had fed earlier but the smell, the sight, the screams – his desire was growing, building. His lips pulled back from his teeth. He wanted the heat, the taste, just a drink. Only a drink.

“Come on,” Troy whispered around a mouthful of her throat. “You picked her.”

Troy edged away from her mind and let her come back to the present in time for Costus’ bite. He bit into her naked shoulder, teeth rending flesh in the quest for her blood. She jerked and fought, hitting him with one arm, kicking her legs uselessly against the seats. And her screams – her screams were terrible, terror-filled. The kind of screams a horror movie producer would pay extra for.

The kind of screams Troy loved.

He let her go and leaned back into his corner of the car. He watched as Costus took hold of her writhing, flailing body. He pulled her to him and bit harder, deeper. Her back arched and her breasts strained against her dress. Her blood smeared around Costus’ mouth. He tightened his hold for better access and wrapped his hand around the bite Troy had made. Blood oozed between his fingers; scarlet against the pale of his skin.

She went limp in his arms, but still he drank, oblivious to Troy, or to Piotr who was still driving, mild concern on his face as he glanced into the rearview again and again. Troy could hear his thoughts. His mistress wouldn’t like this. She was going to be mad when she found out. There would be hell to pay.

He has no idea.

“She’s empty,” Troy whispered, his voice husky. Costus’ eyes met his briefly, a flash of incomprehension.  He wanted more. It wasn’t about the blood anymore. It was about…

Yes, that’s it. That’s exactly it.

Troy pulled the girl from Costus’ arms and stuffed her into the floorboards. The kid stared at him with wild, half crazed eyes. Troy didn’t wait for them to clear.

He pounced on Costus and knocked him back against the window. Troy grabbed his shirt in both hands and pulled it open. Buttons popped and pinged on the chrome and leather.  The skin underneath was smooth and pale. Under the passing streetlights, it gleamed like polished marble.

Troy caught Piotr’s horrified eyes in the rearview and his smile grew into something smug. It was the driver’s job to look after Costus and keep him out of trouble, but there wasn’t a damned thing he could do now.

Troy bit. Costus gave a strangled cry and batted at Troy, aware for only a moment of what was going on. His awareness disappeared as his blood filled Troy’s mouth and their minds touched.  Oh yeah, the kid was older than he was. He could see it; see the funny clothes, hear his sister’s urgent voice. Costus was born into darkness first, turned by a friend of his mother’s he called ‘Uncle’. The bloodlust tore through him. In his rage he attacked his sister. She screamed but he was strong now – so strong-

“No!”

Costus’ scream tore through the car and Piotr slammed the brakes. Troy let the scene go; let it slide away, back into the depths of the kid’s memories, and reached for something else, something better. Costus moaned and his body relaxed. The pleasure built, coursing through both of them. They shifted until they were nearly laying down, Troy on top of him, pressing him down into those smooth leather seats.  Costus unconsciously wrapped his arms around him, pulling his attacker closer, tighter. His back arched and his body shuddered.

Yeah. Oh fuck, yeah.

The orgasm ripped through Troy and he let go. The connection snapped and cold air slapped him in the face. The door was open and Piotr leaned in it, screaming. Without a thought, Troy slammed him in the face with his fist. The driver stumbled backwards and Troy slid out of the car in a flash. He grabbed Piotr by the lapels and lifted him, his teeth snapping in the driver’s face. He could take him now – right now – gorge himself like some big, fat spider and leave him lay. He could-

“Stop!”

The cry was shaky, but demanding. Troy looked up to see Costus stumble out of the car and lean against it. One hand held his shirt together and the other was out, almost comically, like a traffic cop giving directions. “Leave him!”

Troy dropped Piotr to the ground and stepped over him. “Whatever you say, kid.” He ducked past Costus and slid into the backseat. “We better head back, your sister will want to know where you are.”

He could hear the argument in Costus’ head. Hear him mentally shout, “She’s not the boss of me!”, but he didn’t say it. Instead he fumbled himself into the car and settled into the corner.

Piotr stood and wiped himself off. He opened his mouth, the beginning of a tirade. Troy knew what he was going to say and cut him off. “You’re just a lowly nothing peon. Go ahead, run back to your mistress and tell her what happened. See if Costus goes along with you, because he won’t. He’ll say you’re full of shit and she’ll punish you like a dog for lying. That should be fun to watch.”

Piotr looked to his master, but Costus didn’t meet his eyes. Troy knew he was right, and now Piotr did too.

Without a word, the driver got in and started the car. They pulled back onto the highway and sped through the night towards Claudius’ war den. Troy watched Costus from the corner of his eye. There were wet wipes in a door compartment and he used them to clean himself; his hands, his face, his chest. His fingers trembled as he buttoned his blazer. It wasn’t enough to hide his gaping shirt and the missing buttons. Troy could hear his panicked thoughts as he tried to come up with a lie to explain it. All his attempts were stupid, but Troy didn’t care.

Not my problem.

The car pulled to a stop and Troy hopped out and stretched. He glanced back to the pale faced kid inside. “You coming, prince charming?”

“No. I-I’m going back to our hotel.”

“Suit yourself.” Troy slammed the door and stepped back. He watched as it pulled away, spitting gravel behind it, then faded into the embrace of the night. Costus’ sister would have to find another ride, or else sleep there during the day.

Troy turned for the metal building and thought of Costus and his downcast eyes. It was an expression he’d seen before; half guilt, half bewilderment. Uncertain about what had just happened, and if they’d wanted it or not.

Of course he did. And if he didn’t then he at least deserved it. They all deserved it with their mansions and their money.  Hell’s Kitchen might be a swanky address now, but in his memory it wasn’t. The lessons he’d learned on those streets would stick with him for an eternity. You took what you wanted because no one was ever gonna give it to you. Only the strongest survived, and to be the strongest, he’d given up his soul, long before he’d become what he was now.

And in order to live with myself I don’t try to get it back.

After all, what did a vampire need with a soul anyway?

It would just get in the way of the fun.

 *************

Velnya is next week and then that’s it – the first collection will be done! Have to do some editing and then I’ll publish it in July I imagine. Whoo-hoo! 

Vampire Morsels: Sarah

WARNING: Language, some violence

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…

Sarah

(You can find Sarah in Shades of Gray. This story takes place during Shades of Gray – if you’ve read the book, it’s on the same day that Katelina runs into Jesslynn and the baby in the nursery.) 

Sarah sat on the couch, a bright orange pillow clutched in her lap. “I know it’s been hard on Katelina. I really think she needs to talk to someone. I suggested she call you and set up an appointment, but she’s so stubborn.”

The therapist nodded. Her blonde hair moved with her head, like a solid piece of hairsprayed perfection. “Her boyfriend was murdered, wasn’t he?”

“Yes. They still don’t know who did it.” Sarah frowned. “Though the police have been harassing her about it for a month. And now there’s some joker calling her at work.” She sighed again. “I’m sorry. I know this isn’t what we’re supposed to be talking about.”

“We can talk about anything you want,” the therapist assured her. “Why do you think this is bothering you so much?”

“Because she’s my best friend,” Sarah answered without thought. “We’ve been friends since we were kids. She was there for me through a lot of crap.” The therapist nodded, and Sarah went on. “I can’t stand seeing her like this. She says she’s fine, but I know better. And then some jack ass thinks it’s funny to call and say they know who killed him…” she trailed off and shook her head. “I’d like to ring their neck!”

“Did their joke upset her?”

Sarah absently bunched the pillow with her hands. “Of course it did!” Her voice dropped. “She went home early and I haven’t seen her since. I thought I should give her a little time, but I don’t know. It’s been a couple of days. Maybe I should call her?”

“What do you think?”

Before Sarah could answer, the timer buzzed.

“And that’s our session for today.” The therapist stood up and offered a lipstick colored smile. “I’ll see you next Friday?”

Sarah dropped the pillow to the couch and swept to her feet. She shook the doctor’s hand, murmured the usual goodbyes, and headed out into the corridor. The colorful fish photographs and cheerfully painted woodwork didn’t make her feel any better.

Her cellphone went off and she tugged it from her purse. Brad’s familiar, smiling picture flashed on the screen and a silly grin stretched over her face as she answered it. “Hey, honey. What’s up?”

“Hey, sweety. Just calling to see how you’re doing.”

Sarah juggled her purse and let herself out through the glass front door. It was only five, but the October sky was already growing dark and the air was crisp. She wished for her jacket and hurried to her car. “I’m okay. Just leaving the therapist now.”

“Feel better?”

It was a joke, but it made her frown. “No, not really.” She sighed. “I’m worried about Katelina.”

“I’m sure she’s fine, honey. She just needs some time.”

“I know.” Sarah unlocked the door and slid in behind the steering wheel. “I just wish to God she’d never gotten tangled up with Patrick! He was bad news from the get go!” It was a familiar speech, but she launched into it, anyway. “He was a drop out – we went to school with him, though he was older than us – you’d think that would have clued her in, you know? A guy who can’t even graduate isn’t going to get anywhere. And he wore eyeliner – eyeliner! What kind of responsible guy wears eyeliner? I’ll tell you – none!”

The tirade continued as she started her car and pulled onto the road. Brad made little noises of agreement until she paused for a breath and then he threw in, “I’m sure it will be fine. Are you coming in tonight?”

His question momentarily confused her. “What?”

“To the bar? Hello! Earth to Sarah! I work tonight, honey, and I thought you were going to come in and keep me company. Unless you’re too busy?”

Her cheeks flushed. “No, of course I’m not too busy.”

“I wasn’t sure. Your Patrick tirade can go for hours, after all.”

She could hear the smile in his voice and she responded with a sheepish laugh. “Okay, okay, I get the hint. I just never liked the guy.”

“Me either, but he’s dead now. It’s so long and good riddance, and time for everyone to move on, huh?”

“I know, I know. My therapist says I have trouble with letting things go.”

“I think she’s right.” His voice turned to innuendo. “Maybe later tonight we can see if you have trouble letting me go?”

Sarah giggled. “Oh, you! All right, let me just change and call Katelina real quick, and I’ll be right there.”

“Okay. I’ll be missing you until then.”

They exchanged their kissy-sounds and goodbyes, and then Sarah dialed Katelina’s phone. It went straight to voicemail. Undeterred, she tried twice more, as though it would magically ring through if she only called enough. As she pulled into the driveway of her little rental house, she surrendered and left a message.

“Hey, it’s Sarah. Just wanted to make sure you’re okay. They said you didn’t call in today, or yesterday. I know you kind of flake sometimes, but I just wanted to make sure everything is all right. Call me.”

There was nothing to do but wait.

 

Sarah took a shower and changed into the little red dress she saved for special occasions. Tonight wasn’t really special, but she knew Brad felt neglected. On their last date she’d spent the whole night fretting about Katelina. He’d joked about it, but it was obvious it upset him.

“I’m going to show him just how important he is”, she thought as she spritzed on his favorite perfume.

She checked her phone as she headed out the door, but there were no missed calls. Damn. Where the hell is she?

She called Katelina – got voice mail again – and made up her mind. She dialed Brad’s phone and he answered on the second ring. “Hey, whatcha need?”

“I called Katelina but she didn’t answer.” She heard his sigh, and she rushed on quickly. “I’m just going to stop by her place for a little bit, to make sure she’s okay, and then I’ll be yours for the whole evening.”

“Sarah-”

“I promise! I just can’t enjoy myself while I’m worried about her, you know? I swear, it won’t be five minutes and then I’m all yours. No more distractions. Just you, me, and a few dozen drunks hanging around the bar.”

He laughed lightly. “As long as they’re a few dozen drunks who are tipping.” He sighed. “All right, though I think you’re worried over nothing. Every time that girl breathes wrong, you’re fussing and fretting. Sometimes I just feel like you love her more than me.”

“Of course I don’t! You know I love you and Mr. Winky-boo.”

She could feel him cringing. “I wish you wouldn’t call it that.”

“Why not? Oh, come, on, lots of guys have names for it.”

“Cool names. Not something like that. It sounds like a puppet from a kids’ show or something! For Christ’s sake, we’re not in junior high.”

She couldn’t stop the giggles anymore. “All right, all right. I’ll stop calling it that if you stop dogging me about being a worry wart.”

He gave an exaggerated sigh. “Deal. Now go check on your air headed friend and I’ll see you later.”

“She’s not an air head.”

“Really? And how often is she completely irresponsible?”

“Well … maybe once in awhile…” she trailed off. “Okay, she’s a fruit cake, but so are you.”

“I’ll pretend that means I taste good. See you soon.”

They repeated their kissy-ritual and hung up.  Sarah started the car and backed into the street. Just a few minutes, she promised herself.

 

The street was crowded and Sarah had to park her car two blocks away. Most of the shops on Main Street were closed, but the ballet studio was letting out and the street was thronged with parents picking up their little princesses in time whisk them home for a late dinner.

Must be nice, Sarah thought bitterly, then just as quickly she chided herself. Her therapist had told her that when she started to feel like that, she should count her blessings. It didn’t matter where she’d come from, only where she was going.

Easier said than done.

The street lights tinted the evening orangy-pink. Sarah hurried down the sidewalk to the book store. Katelina’s apartment sat above it and her living room windows looked out on the street. Light blazed from them and a person shaped shadows flitted across the blinds.

Good. At least she’s home.

A cheery red door led to a steep set of stairs. Sarah hurried up them and froze at the top, one hand on her purse and the other on the stair railing.

Katelina’s door sat at the end of the hall, wide open. A slice of the front room was visible; the coffee table was overturned and the floor was heaped with books and other items, including what looked like the couch cushions.

Eyes narrowed in determination, Sarah marched through the door, her cell phone in one hand as though it was a weapon. The disarray was even worse inside. The two large bookcases had been emptied and the armchair was overturned. From where she stood, she could see part of the kitchen; the cupboard doors were open and broken dishes littered the floor.

Fury swept through her. After everything that had happened, how could someone do this?

Glass shattered and she stormed towards the sound. Inside the bedroom she found two men. One had long black hair and chestnut colored skin. He’d have looked at home wearing feathers and buckskin. A scar across one cheek only made him look wilder. The other had short red hair and dark eyes. His skin was pale white, and something about the way he stood, perfectly still and staring, seemed wrong.

She refused to let them intimidate her. “What in the hell do you think you’re doing?” She brandished her phone. “I’m calling the cops!”

The Native American took a step towards her, his eyes narrowed and his hands loose fingered fists at his side. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

She jabbed the icon for the phone app. “Just watch me!”

With a snarl he leapt at her, and she ran. She pounded down the short hallway, the intruder behind her. Her purse fell from her shoulder and she let it go. Maybe he’d trip on it.

She made it to the front room before he tackled her to the floor. She kicked and flailed, but he was too strong. A thousand panicked thoughts raced through her head, each one culminating in the certainty that she had to escape.

A voice floated from behind them, “Did you get her, Joseff?”

The reply came through clenched teeth, “Obviously.”

“Good, then let’s get out of here.”

Her captor stood and pulled her to her feet. She tried to swallow down her terror and remember what she’d learned in self defense class. She knew the first step was to remain calm.

Easier said than done!

Joseff jerked the cell phone from her hand. Impossibly, he crushed it in his palm and dropped the pieces to the floor.

“My phone!” Sarah shrieked. That’s it! She slammed her fist into his surprised stomach and followed it with a sweeping kick to the back of his knee. He didn’t fall, but the moment of surprise gave her an opening and she took it.

She was just to the front door, one foot in the hallway, when he grabbed her arm and swung her around. Her face smashed into the door frame and pain exploded from her nose. She stumbled backwards and Joseff knocked her to the floor.

Something warm and wet ran down her face; blood. The familiar sensation flung her back in time. Suddenly she was a little girl again, crouched in the closet, hiding from her father’s beer scented fury. She trembled and terror crashed through her. Help me! She begged silently. Save me. Someone, please.

No!

She wasn’t a little girl, she was a grown woman, and the only person who was going to save her was herself.

She took stock of her surroundings, looking for a weapon. A broken-spined book lay next to her. Useless. A pair of dice was near her left hand. Useless. There was a bottle of nail polish – useless – and half of a broken glass ashtray.

Useful.

She slowly wrapped her hand around it, the jagged edge out, and readied herself.

“She’s going to be trouble,” the red head quipped.

“Brilliant observation, Lennon!” Joseff jerked her to her feet. He shoved his face in hers. His dark eyes snapped like fire that left her breathless. “Listen here Kate, or whatever your name is. You can cooperate or you can die. The choice is-”

His words shook her out of her momentary trance and she struck.  The broken glass tore at his check, but did a fraction of the damage she’d hoped for. He roared in surprise and fury and then punched her in the face. She fell backwards over the armchair and lay stunned.

Joseff loomed over her, his face twisted and lips pulled back from his teeth – No, fangs! Jesus! He has fangs! He grabbed a handful of her curly hair and lifted her by it. “Enough games, you stupid human!”

She had a nanosecond view of his fist crashing towards her face.

The world went black.

 

When she opened her eyes she was greeted by the same suffocating blackness. Her face throbbed and, though she tried to move, she couldn’t. It was as if she was tied up.

Oh, God!

She took a deep, exhaust scented breath and choked. She could feel the hum of a motor, the vibrations of movement.

I’m in the trunk of a car.

Which could only mean one thing: she was being kidnapped.

But why?  If they wanted money they’d have just taken her discarded purse. If they wanted to rape her, they’d have done it back at the apartment. If they wanted to kill her, she’d already be dead. She didn’t know them, so why-

“Listen here Kate, or whatever your name is…”

“Oh my God, they’re after Katelina!”

The realization jolted her. Why would a pair of thugs be after her best friend? What in the hell was Katelina mixed up in?

Patrick. It had to be something to do with him. Probably drugs. No doubt, that was what he’d been killed over and now – and now what? And now they were after Katelina, only they’d grabbed her by mistake?

In her mind, she ran through scenes from movies, lectures from her self defense class, random reality TV shows. None of them had any advice for this scenario. Not even Cosmo had a “What to do if you’re locked in a trunk” article. Like usual, she was on her own.

You can do this, she told herself. Just hang on until we get wherever we’re going. Then they’ll open the trunk. But how long would that be?

 

Minutes ticked past, or maybe they were hours. Trapped in the dark without her phone, Sarah had no idea how much timed had passed.  The car thrummed along at a steady pace. She was jostled over bumps, but for the most part the ride was smooth. Probably an interstate, she told herself.

Her mind wandered. She thought of Brad. She could picture him leaning on the bar, his sandy blonde hair glinting in the row of colored lights, and his blue eyes twinkling with mischief. Only, they wouldn’t be. They’d be ringed in worry and impatience, while he checked the clock and wondered what was taking her so long.

Hopefully he’d go to Katelina’s when he got off work, and when he found it in shambles… what? He’d call the police? And just how would that help her, when she was God knows where?

The car slowed and then the road suddenly got bumpy – very bumpy. She could hear something pinging into the bottom of the car: rocks. They were on a gravel road.

Gravel?

It felt like an eternity, but at last the car pulled to a stop and the engine fell silent. Sarah heard the car doors open and footsteps crunch across gravel. They stopped nearby and someone banged loudly on the trunk.

Lennon’s voice sounded tiny and distant through the metal. “You sure she’s not dead?”

“I’m sure.”

Someone slotted a key into the lock and then the trunk sprang open. Sarah squinted against the onslaught of artificial light; too bright after the blackness.  

Joseff grabbed her by her shoulders and pulled her out of the trunk. With her ankles bound, she couldn’t stand on her own, so he flung her over his shoulder and carried her towards a small brick building that sat seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Several cars were parked in the gravel parking lot, and a security light threw harsh, strange shadows.

The metal door of the building scraped open and a blonde man appeared. His hair was longish and tucked behind his ears. His eyes held neither hatred nor pity; the expression of someone who was simply doing what they were supposed to.

“You got her?”

“Yes,” Joseff answered smugly. “She walked right in and practically asked us to take her.”

The blonde moved aside so they could enter. As they passed through the door, Sarah missed banging her had against it by mere inches.

They walked down a brick hallway and the blonde asked, “Was Jorick there?”

Jorick? Who’s Jorick?

“Nope,” Lennon answered from behind. “She was all alone.”

“Hmmm. The way that Michael and the others talked, she left with him.”

Michael? Who the hell were these people?

Joseff made a noise of agreement. “I know, but he wasn’t there and it’s not our problem. Let Michael explain it.”

“He can’t. He’s dead.”

Sarah felt a stab of icy terror at those words. Michel was a stranger to her, but that they could be so nonchalant that someone – anyone – was dead…

“Claudius kill him?” Joseff asked as they came to a door in the far wall. The blonde opened it and they started down a set of stairs.

“Yes. He had him burned, shortly after you two left.”

Lennon made a noise in his throat and Joseff grumbled, “I always miss the entertainment.”

Burned? Oh my God, it’s the mafia, isn’t it? There was no other explanation. But the mafia doesn’t have fangs. She still remembered her captor’s flashing teeth. Maybe it was my imagination. It had to be.  

The trio of men fell silent as they reached the bottom of the stairs and Sarah concentrated on her surroundings. The room was large and open, like a big basement, with gray walls and floor. A chandelier, strangely out of place, hung from the center of the ceiling, and beneath it sat a large, wicker chair.

A door to the right opened up and several people trailed out. Among them was a bald guy, two scantily clad women, and a sulky blonde teenager.  Sarah didn’t recognize any of them, but there was something about them, something that seemed… wrong.

If this is the mafia, then they don’t look like they do on TV!

The group moved to the center of the room and the teenager dropped into the chair. His cold eyes surveyed them and Sarah shivered.

Joseff dropped her to the cement floor. With no hands to catch herself, she landed painfully on her shoulder. She bit back a cry and told herself to stay calm. Work on the rope on your wrists. Try to get your hands loose. You can still escape.

The Native American propped his foot on her hip and declared, “We’ve brought her, Master.”

“Have you?” The teenager stood and moved to her, absently rubbing his hands together. She froze as his gaze moved from her feet to her head and back again, so intense that she could almost feel it, like fingers gliding over her. “She is interesting. I could see why they might fight over her.”

The bald man made a noise in his throat and walked towards them. He stopped a few feet away and broke into rough laughter.

The teenager’s head snapped up and his cold eyes narrowed. “And what do you find so amusing, Troy?”

“It’s not her,” he answered, his smile wide and fanged.

Fanged?  No, that had been her imagination. People didn’t have fangs. The mafia did not have fangs!

The teen frowned. “Are you certain?”

Joseff growled low in his throat and stepped harder on her hip. “Who else would it be?”

Troy shrugged. “Damned if I know, but Patrick’s girl is a bit of blonde fluff who looks like she might crawl under the bed at the slightest provocation.” He broke into harsh laughter again. “This one’s kinda cute, though. I bet we could find something to do with her.”

His leering tone made her stomach twist. And his fangs continued to taunt her; shiny, sharp, real. How could he have fangs?

The teenager’s face clouded and he glared at Sarah, as if it was her fault. “If you’re not Katelina, then who are you? Speak!”

Joseff ground his heel into her and she yelped, then choked out, “Sarah. Sarah Townsend.” She could tell from their expressions that more was expected, but she refused to play their game.

“And just what do you have to do with anything?” the teenager demanded.

She summoned up all of her courage and stared back. “Untie me and I’ll tell you.”

The teen motioned with his hand. “Joseff.”

The Native American leaned down and grabbed her by her throat. She choked as he lifted her off the floor, crushing her windpipe in his hand. The same hand that had broken her phone to bits. Oh God.

“I’m- I’m Katelina’s friend,” she gasped out.

“What? I didn’t hear you.” The teen motioned to Joseff again and he released her. She landed on her face and rolled over, still coughing. “I’m Katelina’s friend,” she repeated, her voice raspy.

“Her friend, hmmm?” The young man’s eyes glittered like daggers. “Then tell me, where is she?”

“I-I don’t know.”

He leaned down, though not close enough to actually touch her. “You don’t know, or you refuse to tell?”

Her voice rose, though she didn’t know if it was from anger of terror. “I said I don’t know!”

“Hmmmm.” The teen straightened, turned on his heel, and stalked back to the chair. He draped himself over it and stared at her with bored disdain. “I imagine you don’t know where Jorick is, either?”

Jorick. They’d mentioned him earlier. “I don’t know who he is.”

He snorted. “Of course, play innocent. But, we’ll see how long you can keep it up for.” He snapped his fingers. “Troy! Have you heard from Peter and Javier?”

“No, Claudius – Master,” he corrected quickly.

Claudius drummed his fingers on the arm of the chair. “They should have reported by now, unless they’re dead.” He narrowed his eyes at Sarah. “Are they dead? Did Jorick kill them, perhaps?”

When she didn’t answer, Joseff kicked her in the back. “He asked you a question.”

 Though she knew they weren’t playing, she shouted, “I don’t know who they are, or who Jorick is, and I don’t know what happened to any of them! Let me go now and I won’t call the police!”

Troy’s grin seemed to grow even wider, if that were possible. “Let me have her, Master. I’ll make her talk.”

Claudius nodded disinterestedly. “Very well, Troy. Do as you please.” He glanced back to her and added absently, “If she knows anything, I would appreciate the information while she’s still able to speak.”

A terrified scream strangled itself in Sarah’s throat and she struggled against her bonds. This had to be a joke. Wasn’t there a TV show where they tried to scare people? Maybe she was on it. Or maybe it was a nightmare. Or maybe-

Troy bowed low, and then pounced, like a cat with a mouse. He snatched Sarah up by the front of her dress and smiled into her face; that wide, toothy, fanged smile. She could see herself reflected in his eyes, feel the heat of his breath.

Oh God, maybe it’s real.

Troy snickered and glanced to her captors. “Stand back, boys, and watch how it’s done.”

Joseff snorted contemptuously and the other two remained silent. Sarah tried to catch their eyes and send a silent plea to them, but they didn’t look at her. Her gaze swung wildly to the group clustered around Claudius’ chair. Surely one of them would help her. One of the women, maybe?

Help me. Save me. Someone, please.

Troy laughed again, and she told herself she wouldn’t scream, no matter what.

Easier said than done.

 *************

Only two left and then some editing and the Vampire Morsels collection will be done. Yay! next up is Troy, then Velnya. 

Ashes of Deceit – Get Your Copy!

the snazzy cover 😉

Yes, it’s official, book 4 of the Amaranthine series, Ashes of Deceit is out! You can get your copy from:

For all the information on the book – check out the cool Ashes of Deceit page!

To celebrate the release of the book, I am going to do Ten Days of Giveaways. Starting tomorrow, I will post a small excerpt and a (semi) related prize. To enter, all you have to do is comment. It’s that simple!

Prizes are:

  • Day 1 – 2 “Bloodsucker” t-shirt transfers
  • Day 2 – 3 sets of Character Bookmarks, collection I
  • Day 3 – 3 vinyl “Beware of Vampire Hypnosis” sticker sets
  • Day 4 – 2 “All my black clothes are at the cleaners” t-shirt transfers
  • Day 5 – 3 sets of Character Bookmarks, collection II
  • Day 6 – 2 “Got Blood?” t-shirt transfers
  • Day 7 – 3 large “Vampires are More Dangerous than they Appear” Vinyl stickers
  • Day 8 – 2 “Vampires and Glitter Don’t Mix” T-shirt Transfers
  • Day 9 – 3 sets of 16 Executioner Trading Cards
  • Day 10 – 1 cross necklace

Winners will be drawn June 4th via Random.org. Remember, to be eligible for a prize, you must comment on the blog the prize is featured in.

Thanks for stopping by and look forward to seeing you at the giveaways!

Vampire Morsels: Nirel

WARNING:  mild sexual content

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…

Nirel

(You can find Nirel in Legacy of Ghosts . This story takes place in Indiana in 1967. Iris has a cameo in the upcoming Ashes of Deceit and, if all things work out as planned, you should see her and her sister in book 5.)

”Whereat with blade,

some demon shudders,

hiding under  smoky glass

the colors run like virgin teardrops…”

Nirel tuned out, though the rest of the poem was in the same vein. Maybe it was because he wasn’t as high as the others, or maybe it really was utter tosh, but he just didn’t care. When the girl finished, everyone else clapped and reeled off compliments. The best one was from a guy in a pair of dark bell bottoms. “That was beautiful. It is so in tune with modernism and the core of socio-transcendental-patterns of a new age.”

Nirel scoffed and lit another fag. Either that guy saw something he didn’t, or else he just wanted in her knickers. It’s probably the second one.

He felt the eyes and turned his head to see Agnes staring steadily at him. He gave her a nod and then looked away, as if that would discourage her. Times like this made him wonder what he’d been thinking when he’d made the sisters what he was; immortal and unchanging: vampires. 

Her dark eyes bored into him; expecting something more. He shifted uncomfortably and finally swept to his feet. He muttered about needing air, not that anyone listened, and strode out the door.

The porch sagged. He leaned against a peeling railing and listened to the sound of the rain as it pinged the shabby roof and the late summer vegetation. Drip. Drop. Plop.

Splat.

He wiped the rain drop from his forehead and, with a filthy glare at the leaking roof, he hunkered down in a shadowy corner, away from the moisture.

The front door opened and closed. Agnes took a few faltering steps and squinted into the dark.  He watched her eyes widen and a small smile curve over her cherry lips when she spotted him.

“Why are you hiding in the corner?” she asked and giggled. “Don’t you like the rain? I’d think it would remind you of home.”

Home.

“Eh, I don’t care either way, love.” He drew the last puff from his fag and threw it out into the rainy yard. “Alright so I’m here.”

She frowned. “You make it sound like some kind of duty.”

Isn’t it? He kept the thought to himself and gave a non committal shrug. Her frown deepened and, with a roll of his eyes, he caught her and pulled her to him. She resisted for just a minute; the feminine proof that she was the one in charge, and then she surrendered and snuggled into him with a soft sigh. He wrapped his arms around her and tangled his fingers in her chestnut hair. He leaned close and his lips brushed her neck where a knot of old scars was still visible. He inhaled deeply, breathing in the scent of her hair, her skin, her blood.

And then he bit.

She moaned softly and melted over him, like warm butter. Her blood filled his mouth, warm, spicy, sweet. He closed his eyes and tasted her; her thoughts, her dreams, her desires. They were all there, scattered at his feet like jewels and he chose which to look at and which to ignore. She tasted good, she felt good. Suddenly he wasn’t sure why he objected so much.

A wave of pleasure swept over him, and engulfed them both. With a shuddering groan, she tugged open his shirt and bit his chest. Her fangs sunk deep and he felt the initial pull as she drew his blood into her mouth. Then it was gone and there was nothing but him and her crashing together to the beat of the rain.

She cried out as the orgasm ripped through her, and he followed a moment later. His lips released her, and he traced his tongue over the still bleeding wound. She lay against his chest, murmuring soft sounds, like a kitten. Time and reality came back into focus as the blood pleasure faded. He closed his eyes against it. The soft landscape of her mind had been better and yet-

And yet he didn’t love her.

“It doesn’t matter,” she whispered, as if she had plucked the thought from his mind, though it was an ability she didn’t have.

She just knows .She always bloody knows.

“I love you enough for both of us.”

He sighed and brushed her hair back from her flushed face. “I doubt that, love.”

Music drifted out to them; heavy on the guitar and lean on meaning.  The rain sped up and low thunder rumbled in the distance. Marijuana smoke wafted through the open window and he breathed it in. It was weak and diluted, just as they were.

He changed the topic. “You got one picked out yet?”

She giggled like a mischievous child. “I thought the one in the paisley, with the dreamy eyes.”

“Dreamy?” He snorted. “’e didn’t look dreamy to me, but call ‘im what you want.”

“I didn’t say he was dreamy, just his eyes.” She sighed. “I want to look into those eyes while I drink from him.”

The door banged open and Iris stepped out.  She adjusted her glasses and peered into the shadows. Despite the gift of vampirism, neither of them could see well. “It’s an improvement!” Iris had cried with delight as she looked on the world with her new eyes. “Oh look, Agnes! Look! I can see the stars.”

As mortals, they’d obviously been very blind.

Iris hurried to them, a faint look of disapproval on her face. “Are you about ready to go? I’m bored.”

“Not yet,” Agnes turned to face her sister, though she still held a wad of his shirt in one hand. “I haven’t eaten yet.”

Iris crossed her arms. “Then hurry up. These parties are so boring. I don’t know why we come to them.”

It was a tune he’d heard before. “If it’s not your scene, love, you don’t have to come.”

“Yes she does!” Agnes cried and grabbed her sister’s arm with her free hand. “I want her to come.”

Iris adjusted her glasses, as if to make herself look sterner. “Then feed so we can go!”

“All right!” Agnes giggled and stepped away from Nirel. “I’ll be right back,” she trilled and nearly danced to the door and back into the house.

Agnes turned her stern gaze to Nirel. “What about you?”

“I’ll catch something later. None of ‘em caught my fancy.”

“Not a lot does.” He could see the wheels turning behind her eyes, as though she were trying to formulate an especially witty and pointed remark.

He didn’t give her time. “You’re the one who was bored, not me.”

“Well, yes, but these parties are boring. The drugs don’t do anything for me-”

“Nothing at all?” he asked with mild surprise. They might be vampires but he still got a buzz.

“That’s what I just said. The music is terrible and the company even worse. Can’t we do something exciting?”

He tugged a fag from the pack and lit it. “And what would you find exciting? Cutting my ‘ead off, maybe?”

“That might be a good start,” she admitted with a huff. He glared back and she softened. “Oh, you’re all right, I suppose. But can’t we do something ‘vampire-ish?’  It’s been five years and nothing has changed! We might as well still be human! Surely there has to be something more than this.”

“Ya got any ideas? I’m all ears.” He took a deep puff and breathed out a cloud of vaporous smoke. “What do ya expect to ‘appen? Vampires are just people who live forever, so of course it’s all the same.”

“But we don’t have to hang out with… them!” she made a sweeping gesture towards the house and its mortal occupants. “Shouldn’t we be with our own kind?”

He snickered. “Vampires ain’t big on packs.  Why d’ya think I’m by myself. How long do ya want to spend with someone before you’re tired of them?”

“Well I’m tired of this.” Iris stomped her foot for emphasis and the porch shuddered just a little. “I want some adventure!”

The door opened and Agnes appeared, licking her lips and smiling serenely. “He was delicious!” she declared as she came to a stop before them and grabbed Nirel’s hand. “Are we ready?”

Iris narrowed her eyes. “Yes, more ready than you can guess.”

 

It was still drizzling the next evening. Iris donned a rain poncho and bulldozed her way out the door. Agnes didn’t bother with a coat, only grabbed Nirel’s arm and dragged him into the rain.

“Oh!” she cried with delight. “The drops are cold! Do you feel them?”

“Eh, not really.” His gaze swept from her rapt face to the fringe of dark trees that bordered the property.  Over the sound of the storm he could hear Iris clomping through the underbrush, pointedly searching for soggy prey.

“Try!”

“What?” His attention swung back to her. “Sorry.”

She batted his apology aside. “I said try! Here!” She grabbed his arm and extended it, forcing his palm up. “Now concentrate. Feel the drops as they land on your fingers.”

He sighed inwardly. If it would shut her up he’d play along. “Yeah, yeah. I feel it. Cold.”

“See?” She giggled and released him so she could step away and look up at the dark sky. “Iris is angry.”

“Yeah, I know. She’s bored.”

Agnes’s face clouded and she met his eyes. “Are you?”

He looked back to the trees and bit off another sigh. “Love, I’ve been bored since I was born.”

“Even when you’re with me?”

He cringed at the clingy question. “Agnes-”

“It’s all right. You don’t need to answer.” She followed his gaze and stared at the trees as if she could see through them. “She wants to leave.”

The non sequitur jarred him. “What?”

“Iris. She wants to leave you. She wants to go that guild place where the other vampires are.”

Nirel shoved his hands in his pockets. “It isn’t what she thinks it is, like some kind of bloody summer camp. It’s just a place where some of them go, mainly the prats who rule the rest of us. What she wants is a proper coven, but even that won’t be what she’s ‘oping for. They just turn on you when it suits ‘em and leave you behind to take the fall.”

Agnes caught his arm and said softly, “You could come with us.”

“Not if you’re goin’ to the bloody Guild. I’m sorry, love, but that’s not a place I want to visit.”

She sagged against him, her voice a whisper nearly lost among the rain drops. “What am I supposed to do? I can’t leave her but…” she turned to him with liquid eyes. “Please, Nirel? I know you don’t love me, but-”

The answer was on his face and she looked away. “It isn’t fair! Why must I always choose? Why is it always what she wants or what I want? Why can’t we both be happy?”

Her misery was too much for him. “Look, maybe you should let ‘er go by ‘erself? You could stay ‘ere and we could… I don’t know. We could do sumthin’.”

She shook her head emphatically. “I can’t leave her, you have to understand. We’ve always been together. I just – I can’t!” She exploded in a shower of tears and ran for the house.

Nirel took an absent step to follow her, then stopped. He could hear the squishy-squashy sound of Iris stomping her way across the lawn towards him.

“She told you?”

He didn’t bother to face her. “Yeah. So when ya leavin’?”

He could imagine the way her face scrunched up. “You don’t have to sound so delighted about it! You might pretend you care about her!”

“Why bother?” He turned for the trees. “I’m gonna go feed. I’ll be back.”

Iris shrieked after him, “You’re a jerk!”

Maybe I am, but you’re a petulant cow.

 

He half expected them to be gone when he returned. They weren’t. Agnes sat in a chair in the kitchen, her skinny knees up to her chin. Iris banged around deeper in the house; in the bedroom, it sounded like. Ah, I bet she’s packing. Well good riddance.

Nirel shook his shaggy red hair out and wiped the rain from his face. He peeled off his sodden shirt and jacket and tossed them in the sink, then he dropped into one of the kitchen chairs. “She’s in an ‘urry?”

Agnes answered with no enthusiasm, “Yeah. Once she makes up her mind she likes to jump right into it.” They fell silent and she dropped her legs and leaned on the table. Absently, she traced a circle on the table top, the mark from an old moisture ring. “She spent so long sick. We couldn’t do anything; we couldn’t even go outside when we were little.” She sought his eyes, pleading. “You have to understand.”

He leaned back in the chair and noted the soft creak of the wood. “I never said that I didn’t.”

Iris’s voice floated from the bedroom, “I can hear you, you know!”

 Agnes dropped her head to the table. “Yeah, I know,” she murmured. “So what are you going to do- once we leave, I mean?”

He realized suddenly that it was their house.  They’d grown up there, in the middle of nowhere Indiana, two sickly girls, their aging mother and her religion. From what he understood it had been powerful enough to count as a fourth inhabitant. “I dunno. Go find sumthin’ to do, I reckon.”

“You could stay here. We’ll probably come back.”

“Yeah, maybe.” The tension was heavy; like the shadows that hung in the corners. He stood and stretched. “I’m gonna go to town. I’ll be back.”

He grabbed his wet shirt from the sink and hurried out the door. Agnes’s surprised face hung in his memory even as the door slammed behind him. Hurt and surprised.

What did she expect?

 

He took another hit and handed it to the girl across from him. She had red hair the color of a summer sunset and eyes like green grass and she was so blitzed out of her mind she didn’t even know where she was.

“What did you say?”

He hadn’t said anything, but that didn’t matter. “I said she’s leaving.”

Her red tinted eyebrows drew together. “Who’s leaving?”

“Agnes. She and her sister are packin’ their shit and ‘eading out.”

“Bummer. Is she your girl?”

“No.” He leaned back on his elbows. “She’s just a girl.”

The redhead held the smoke in her lungs, then let it out in a sweet scented cloud. “Did you date her a long time?”

He rolled his eyes. “Eh, five years.”

Her green eyes popped. “Wow, that is a long time. No wonder you’re so cut up.”

“I’m not cut up.” She offered the joint to him and he waved it away. “I don’t care.”

She was suddenly distracted by her hand. Obviously she’d been doing more than just pot. When she came back she blinked at him and asked again, “What?”

A guy in a dark blue pullover lounged behind her. “He was telling you about his girlfriend.”

“Oh were you?” She fixed him with a vacant stare. “What about her?”

Nirel ground his teeth to keep from snapping, “No, I wasn’t.”  He was suddenly sick of the whole vapid, stupid crowd. They didn’t know their arse from a hole in the ground. They probably didn’t even know their own bleedin’ names. Iris was right, there had to be something more.

The thought filled him with fury and he bit off his words savagely, “I was tellin’ you ‘ow we met. It was snowing and I was ‘ungry and there was their house, out in the middle of nowhere.  So, I go right up and I knock on the door.”

He could still see it in his head. The door was locked and he pounded on it. He could smell their blood and he wanted it; he needed it. It had been days since he’d fed. After the massacre, his coven had abandoned him and left him to take the punishment. He was the newest, after all, the least important. The redheaded executioner had spared him, but the lackeys had left him bound and gagged in the abandoned house. He’d had to wait for the rats to chew through the rope. He’d caught one of them, but the rest of them ran and he’d stumbled out into the snow, looking for something better.

He’d knocked, over and over and over. Finally the door opened and the woman had stared at him. Short and gray, with cold, hard, unrelenting eyes; eyes that promised to suffocate those they loved and destroy any who endangered their carefully arranged kingdom. The kind of eyes that haunted a person’s dreams.

No, nightmares.

He’d killed her on the doorstep. Her blood splashed up the door and when he’d drained her he’d almost licked it off the woodwork, except he could smell the others; two others. It wasn’t just their blood, but the odor of a sick room. They’d be weak…

The guy in the pullover cut into his memories, “So what happened?”

An evil smile stretched across Nirel’s face. “I killed their mother and then I went through the ‘ouse ‘til I found the sisters cowering in the bedroom, dressed in their nightclothes and beggin’ me to spare ‘em. But I was too ‘ungry, so I drained ‘em both and now I’m gonna do the same to you.”

The red haired girl blinked vacantly. “What?”

Her question ended in a scream.

 

Nirel wiped the blood off of his face and left. The screen door slammed with echoing finality. Someone was bound to find the two bodies soon. Maybe later tonight. Maybe tomorrow.  The others had run from what they’d later think was a drug induced hallucination.

He hadn’t needed to kill them. They normally didn’t; they just took some and left them alive. But tonight was the kind of night to revel in death and blood. It felt good. It felt like some kind of power.

The rain had slowed, but it still dripped in fat, splatting drops. Nirel walked randomly and listened to the noise in his head. It was nonsense and it didn’t make him feel any better.

The sky was rosy to the east when he ducked into an abandoned root cellar. It smelled of earth and wet and mold. He flopped across a bin of rotten potatoes and closed his eyes. He could see Agnes; see her huddled in a ball on the floor in the bedroom, crammed back as if to hide from him. Iris was on the bed, her hair cropped short and her arms waifishly thin. She squinted at him, no doubt trying to make sense of the smeared vision of a withered monster. He grabbed her first, only because she was closer. Her skin tasted like sweat and medicine, and her blood had the bitter tang of chemicals, but he didn’t care. It tasted like life to him.

Agnes screamed and lunged at his legs. She sobbed and begged him to stop. “Not my sister. No! Not her! Me! Take me!” and he hadn’t cared. One was as good as another. He dropped Iris back to the bed where she curled into a trembling ball, her hand to her neck.

He remembered how Agnes’s tears had tasted, and how hot her blood was as it filled his mouth. Iris cried; a constant flow of inaudible whimpers meant to be pleas. And there, in Agnes’s mind he saw it all. He saw the two girls, born weak and sickly. Saw the day their father left them. Saw their mother and her despair.  Saw as Iris got better, then worse, as Agnes, the youngest but strongest battled for a life and ran away, only to find that the world outside was cruel. He watched her crawl home, her dead dreams packed away in her suitcase with her toothbrush.

And he’d turned her rather than watch her die. Not because he cared but…

Because I was bored.

 

His rest was patchy at best, and he was grateful when twilight came.

The rain had stopped and stars peeped between tattered clouds in the deepening sky above him. He trudged the familiar path back to the lonely clapboard house. No lights shone in the windows, and he hesitated on the lawn for a moment before he plunged through the door into the silent kitchen.

“’ello?” He didn’t know why he bothered. He already knew they were gone.

He didn’t turn the light on. He didn’t need it. He could see in the dark, like he was supposed to. Not like them.

An envelope lay on the table and he picked it up. He recognized Agnes’s slanting handwriting. “To Nirel” it said, and underneath in smaller letters she’d added a hasty, “Please read this. XXO.”

He stuffed it in his pocket and dropped into the kitchen chair he’d been in the night before. “You have to understand,” she’d said, and he did. He understood.

“No skin off my nose, eh?” The darkness creaked around him, as if the house and its ghosts were answering, so he added, louder this time, “You ‘ere me? It’s no skin off my nose. I don’t care what they do. I don’t care where they go. You ‘ere me? I don’t care-”

He broke off and laughed softly to himself. “Goin’ crackers already, ain’t I?”

The wind whispered through the corners, and he shivered. He imagined he could feel their mother’s eyes on him, like they’d been that first night. They were angry eyes. Vengeful eyes. Eyes that wanted to punish him for what he’d taken away.

“Fuck this.”

He stood and made show of gathering his things, as if to prove to the phantoms that he was leaving. With his bag over his shoulder he thumped out of the house and locked the door behind him. The key seemed to burn his fingers, but he didn’t know what to do with it. Stick it in a plant somewhere? Toss it in the creek?

He settled for jamming it into his pocket with the letter. Her letter. What could she have to say to him? Probably more clingy, whiny bullshit.

“I love you enough for the both of us.”

Bullshit.

But it didn’t matter because he didn’t love her. He’d never loved her.

And he’d keep telling himself that.

Forever.


Front Cover for Ashes of Deceit – Final Version

After the feedback from the cover debut, I have made some mior adjustments and am happy to say this is the final version:

As you might notice Malick looks a *little* bit eviler around the eyes, but not super evil (as he is not meant to be instantly identifiable as evil and is often described in the book(s) as “serene”.) buuuut for the sake of cover art a little menace is an okay thing. (You may also notice I have udpated the snazzy animation over to the side 😉 Feel free to snag that bad boy by the way and post to your hearts content.)

Also adjusted the tagline position a bit too.

 

New Facebook Page!

Yeah, I finally broke down and made an author page on Facebook. After waaaay longer than I want to admit to, I think I have it all set up. By using “apps” i have added a “My Books” page as well as an rss feed of this blog, a contact me page and a twitter page – though the twitter page took a looong time to load when I tested it. Maybe it was just my connection?

Something I have been unable to do is add a *&^% video. They upload for a little bit – about 12% or so and then stop and stare at me forever. Does anyone know why it does this? It’s not a huge deal as I have youtube account(s) so I can always just link (and save myself the effort of uploading!) but the blank button is annoying me.

If you’re a facebook friend you’ve probably already been annoyed with an invite to come like the page, but if you’re not then stop by and give me a like.  Free thank you’s to the first 50 fans.

(Think about that for a second 😉 )

In future I may do contests or something with the page, but for now I am going to get back to work.

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    Joleene Naylor

    An independent author, freelance artist, and photographer for fun who loves anime, music, and writing. Check out my vampire series Amaranthine at http://JoleeneNaylor.com or drop me a line at Joleene@JoleeneNaylor.com

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