Sarah – A FREE short story

400x40000bb

In preparation for the release of Masque of the Vampire, Sarah’s vampire morsel short story is now available as a FREE read!

Takes place during Shades of Gray. Though Sarah has problems of her own, she’s worried about Katelina. Her best friend’s sort-of-boyfriend was murdered a month ago, and now a joker has started prank calling her. It’s no wonder she’s hiding out. But, when Sarah goes to visit, she finds a ransacked apartment and a pair of strange men. When she confronts them, she has no idea how much trouble she’s in for.

Get it on:

Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks | Kobo

FRONT COVER smallAnd don’t forget that you can pre-order book 8, Masque of the Vampire, from all major ebook outlets:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks |Kobo

 

A Chance to Win a Copy of Vampire Morsels & Shades of Gray!

we're not  all yellow.jpg

Donna gave 101 Tips ten Rubber Ducks – check her post to see what I mean!

Fellow author DM Yates has been kind enough to post her reviews of Vampire Morsels Short Story Collection and 101 Tips for Traveling with a Vampire on her blog. On top of that, she is offering a prize pack of a copy of Vampire Morsels and Shades of Gray to two lucky commenters delivered straight to your Kindle – no download codes or fuss. To enter, check out her blog and leave a comment – it’s that simple!

While you’re there, be sure to check out her other posts and her debut novel Always which I would  list as one of my favorite reads in 2012!

 

Kariss now on Smashwords!

The eleventh Vampire Morsel, Kariss, is now available as a free read on Smashwords.com.

Short Story. Not a children’s story. The eleventh in a collection about different vampires from the Amaranthine universe. Told in flashbacks between 1784 and 1820, Kariss must come to terms with her owm immortality and her mother’s death. You can also find Kariss in the novel legacy of Ghosts. 

It’s been approval for the extended distribution, so should soon filter through to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.  

Meanwhile, if you haven;t yet, you can either read the other ten stories free on Smashwords/Barnes & Noble/etc. OR you can purchase all seventeen for $.99 from Amazon, Smashwords, B&N etc.

And leave a review! Ha ha! 

Fangs and Hearts Week – I’m Late…

While I was in Iowa looking at houses, Emily Guido was kind enough to post my Fangs and Hearts guest spot. Stop in and read her kind review of Vampire Morsels Collection, and read an interview where I answer questions like ” any “morsels” you can share with us about future books coming out?”

So be sure to stop in and, even though the contest is over on her blog, you can still enter for a chance to win a free ebook on my FB author page – http://facebook.com/JoleeneNaylorBooks.

 

 

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!

The Triple 6’s FB Fanpage Giveaway!

The Simplified Version:

As of 6/30/12 I have sold 666 copies of Shades of Gray this year! Since six and three are two of my lucky numbers (so what could be luckier than THREE sixes?) I think a celebration is in order. That means it’s giveaway time!

How to enter:

1 – Like my author page at https://www.facebook.com/joleenenaylorbooks for a chance to win a $10 gift certificate to Amazon or B&N.

2 – Leave a NEW comment on my author page at https://www.facebook.com/joleenenaylorbooks for a chance to win a second $10 gift certificate to Amazon or B&N. Earn points every time a unique user likes (1 point) or comments (2 points) on your post! Earn an easy five points by making your post vampire related.

3 – The “Jo-certified Most Amusing” comment will win an autographed paperback copy of my new Vampire Morsels Collection.

4 – Contest starts Sunday, August 12, 2012 and ends at 11:59 central time Sunday, August 19, 2012. I will notify the winners within a couple of days. If they don’t respond within one week of notification date, new winner(s) will be chosen.

The Longer Version:

To celebrate a month of lucky numbers (six, twelve and three are ALL my lucky numbers – so 666 as of 6/30/12 is pretty friggin’ lucky!) it’s giveaway time!

I will be giving away two (2) $10 gift cards to the winners’ choice of book retailer (Amazon or Barnes & Noble) and one autographed paperback copy of the new Vampire Morsels collection.

One winner will be chosen via random drawing ala Random.org. To enter in the random drawing all you have to do is like my FB author page at https://www.facebook.com/joleenenaylorbooks. Already liked it? Then you’re automatically entered for the random drawing!

The second winner will be chosen on the FB author page. To enter, leave a new comment on my page at https://www.facebook.com/joleenenaylorbooks –  the comment can be anything: a video, a picture, a link, just some random text. I don’t care. Just say “hi”. Then get your friends to come “like” the post and/or comment on it. For every like you get one (1) point, and every comment by a unique user earns two (2). I will total the points up at the end and the comment with the most points wins. Should there be a tie, random.org will decide the winner. (Previous comments on the page don’t count this time – sorry.)

Want five (5) extra points? Make your post vampire related and you got ’em.

So how can you win the autographed paperback? I will award it to the person with the most amusing comment. Yes, amusing-ness (new word alert!)  is subjective, so what I think is the most amusing, someone else may not agree with, but that’s how the cookie crumbles.

I will contact the winners via FB message to get their email/address information. Please make sure you have messages enabled so I can contact you. Should a winner not respond, Random.org will choose another one and/or the person with the next highest points will win.

Of course facebook does not endorse this contest in any way nor does anyone else endorse it but me 🙂 Entry is not a guarantee of winning and I am not responsible for the copyright etc. of anything posted to my page, sole responsibility goes to the original poster. Also any offensive or abusive comments will be deleted and will not count towards your points.  Also comments posted on my personal FB page, on my blogs, or anywhere else do NOT count. only those posted on my FB author page at https://www.facebook.com/joleenenaylorbooks.

Vampire Morsels Collection

Have you enjoyed the freebie Vampire morsels? Now, get them all in once place, edited and updated, including seven morsels that were never published!

WARNING: The stories may contain spoilers as well as violence, strong language, sexual content or other disturbing scenes not intended for a young audience. Do you dare to walk in the shadows and taste the darkness?

Seventeen short stories from the world of Amaranthine; a universe of blood and darkness where vampires don’t sparkle and night is eternal.

Includes:

Kateesha – When Kateesha and her partner are sent to apprehend a rogue coven, things so awry and carry terrible consequences.

 Michael – Michael isn’t interested in finding a job, so his mother finds one for him. If only she’d known she was sending him to work for vampires.

 Troy – Claudius is having a get together, and leaves Troy in charge of greeting the guests. But what happens when he finds himself stuck babysitting a pretty boy vampire?

 Jesslynn – When Jesslynn’s baby gets sick, she sees only way to save him; by discovering whatever dark ritual keeps their neighbor, Jorick, healthy and eternally young. She gets more than she bargained for.

 Also includes: Velnya, Sarah, Nirel, Kariss, Herrick, Elsa, Claudius, Bethina, Benjamin, Ashton, Arowenia, Alexander and Adam.

Get your copy today:

Paperback – https://www.createspace.com/3950963

Amazon kindle – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008QJTRX8/

Barnes & Noble Nook – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/vampire-morsels-joleene-naylor/1112302992?ean=2940014996617

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

Jesslynn now on Smashwords!

The tenth Vampire Morsel, Jesslynn, is now available as a free read on Smashwords.com.

Short Story. Not for children. Part of a collection called Vampire Morsels about vampires from the Amaranthine universe. When Jesslynn’s baby gets sick, she sees only way to save him; by discovering whatever dark ritual keeps their neighbor, Jorick, healthy and eternally young. She gets more than she bargained for. 

It’s still pending approval for the extended distribution, but once it is approved it will filter through to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.  Ashes of Deceit got approved quickly, so hopefully only a couple of weeks.

This is the last freebie I will post for awhile because later this month I will publish the Vampire Morsels collection featuring all seventeen stories in one book.  And, yes, I am going to charge for it, which means Amazon will finally get the Morsels. 😉

 

COMING SOON!

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! 

  • Tales of the Executioners

    Short stories from the world of Amaranthine; a universe of blood and darkness where vampires don't sparkle and night is eternal. Each is about a member of the Executioners squad; the special vampire "police" force. Members both past and present share stories of assignments, origins, and more.

    Dark, light, love, laughter, death...you never know what you'll find in the shadows.

    Get your copy today!

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 4,566 other followers

  • Coming Events!

    June 29 – 30 – Indie Author Book Expo, Des Moines, Iowa

  • Find me on Facebook

  • Blog Categories

  • get featured

  • Want your ebook autographed?

    Check out Authorgraph.com to get your digital ebooks autographed!

    Get a free Authorgraph from Joleene Naylor

  • Find me on Barnes & Noble

  • I’m on Goodreads

    Joleene Naylor's books on Goodreads
    Shades of Gray Shades of Gray (Amaranthine, #1)
    reviews: 13
    ratings: 49 (avg rating 4.00)

    Legacy of Ghosts Legacy of Ghosts (Amaranthine, #2)
    reviews: 9
    ratings: 27 (avg rating 4.37)

    See More at Good Reads
  • Authors db

  • Joleene Naylor

    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

    Personal Links

    Verified Services

    View Full Profile →

  • Editing services

    devilinthedetailsediting
  • The Ink Slingers Guild
  • Awesome Review Blog

    I Smell Sheep
  • My pet hamster!

%d bloggers like this: