Interview with Katelina AND Malick

Barb was kind enough to interview BOTH Katelina and Malick. Luckily they didn’t cause too much trouble. Check it out for a peek inside their tiny, terrifying brains!

My name is Brenda de Zorig and I’m a journalist for the Konigtown Gazette. I’ve been on the road for years as an actress in an itinerant company, but eventually decided to go back to my hometown to start living of the thing I like the most – writing. So while I write my Masterpiece, I took this job at the Gazette and they send me on various assignments… I thought I might as well starting interviewing random people. Since I intend to write fiction, but truth is always stranger than fiction, I’m eager to hear about people out there – on my world or beyond.

So, here we are again with women in breeches! Hello there. Tell me a little about yourself.

1-katelinaMy name is Katelina Mauldin and I’m almost twenty-six. I guess the most interesting thing about me isn’t really me, but the company I keep. I’m dating a vampire. There. I said it. Jorick is a vampire, but he’s not a run of the mill, sparkles in the sunlight, only eats animals and cries to himself kind of vampire. I’m pretty sure he feeds on people when I’m not looking, and he’d much rather crush an enemy’s skull than cry about anything.

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Prologue 8: Malick

With the release of Heart of the Raven looming, it’s time to meet the characters! But why just read a stale bio, when you can have a flash-fiction introduction? These take place the day before Heart of the Raven begins. Think of them as mini prologues. They will not appear in the book and this is the only place you can read them. Enjoy!

malick

January 10th
Malick’s new headquarters

Malick motioned to the left and with a grunt Senya and Greneth heaved the fountain to its new position. The ancient master surveyed the effect, then nodded his approval.

Senya straightened and glared around the room. Lush green plants and stone statues looked back at her. The shabby building almost appeared habitable.

“More than habitable,” Malick commented to her thoughts. “For now this will be our new home, our palace! And a palace we will make it.” He clapped his hands and an assortment of guards, still wearing the old black and silver uniforms of the Guild, hurried inside.  As if commanded, they quickly arranged themselves before their master.

Malick surveyed them and smiled. “Ah, my faithful children! It saddens me that so few of you have come, but those that have warm my heart as you cannot imagine!” He motioned Senya and Greneth to the fore. “Before, we had a group of the elite; the best, my Executioners. So we shall do so again but you will not be my Executioners, rather you will be my avenging angels. All of you have chosen to follow me, and so all of you will be the foundation of our new world. Griselda!”

The blonde vampiress marched into the room bearing a large wooden chest. She sat it in the center of the floor and opened the lid. Inside was what looked like folded black cloth and small red boxes.

Malick motioned the group to the chest where Griselda handed them each a stack of cloth and a box. The cloth shook out to be long black coats, emblazoned with a golden eye on the back, and in the boxes were matching golden medallions. It was Malick’s former symbol, the one he’d used before he’d organized The Guild. It was the all-seeing eye, the same as he had tattooed on his back.

“Wear them with pride, my children!” At his command the guards peeled off their Guild issued coats and slid into their new ones. Malick sat back in his chair and watched them fasten the emblems around their throats. Things were progressing just as they should with one exception: his son. But, he would see him in a few days and then… then perhaps he could persuade him to join them. And if not, at least he would discover the hiding place.

Either way, things were shaping up to be quite interesting indeed.

Get your copy today:

Heart of the Raven Blurb

double covers

This is the long version. A couple of shorter versions will appear later, though I have to admit that, after having done some research around the web and such, I don’t think those 100 word blurbs are always doing us authors the favors we think they are. There are plenty of complaints out there about book descriptions that are too short…

Katelina has barely recovered from the chaos of Malick’s revolt, yet she and Jorick must go to Munich to testify before the True Council. All hopes of a vacation are dashed when they ‘re assigned an entourage that includes Verchiel, a vampire Katelina never wants to see again.

Her hatred is forgotten when Malick and his henchmen penetrate the stronghold in Munich. Jorick hijacks the trip and diverts them on a quest to reclaim the Heart of the Raven. Said to be the disembodied heart of Lilith, the relic may be more reality than myth, and if it falls into the wrong hands it could have disastrous consequences for the world. Can they reach its hiding place before Malick?

The fifth installment of the Amaranthine series sees Jorick and Katelina draw closer as they surround themselves with their own miniature army and try to outwit the machinations of the ancient master. Katelina grows stronger and learns to stand on her own because there’s no room for the fainthearted in a world where darkness is eternal and the night tastes like blood.

signature for whiteAnd… opinions? I know you have ’em, and we all know I like to hear ’em. So fire away.

Interview with Malick


 

Hello! My name is Jorick and I’m from Joleene Naylor’s Amaranthine series. Using state of the art-mumbo-jumbo-author magic, Jo normally has Katelina interview other authors’ characters but now we’re interviewing fellow Amaranthian’s with questions that come from you, the readers.

Today I am filling in for Katelina because we are interviewing Malick, and she didn’t feel up to the task. his interview is suspiciously well timed, as the fourth book, Ashes of Deceit, has just been released, and guess who is on the cover?

Jo: *interrupts* I would like to note that I have “capped” Malick’s special abilities for the space of this interview, so no one needs to worry about having their brains melted or anything. Being an author I can do that.Also, it was just luck that his interview was today. Okay, back to you, Jorick.

Jorick: MmHmm. Yes. Thank you. As I was saying, I am interviewing Malick, who is the head of the North American Guild.

Malick: And also your master, I believe. It is interesting that you neglected to mention this.

J: It didn’t seem important. These things drag on long enough without superfluous conversation.

M: You do not enjoy your moments in the lime light? Your chance to speak, unrestrained, and give out your version of all events? Ah! But I suppose the novels already carry your version, don’t they? So perhaps it is unnecessary.

J: There are questions for you. I suggest we get started. From Juli, “rumor has it that you’re ‘the oldest vampire in North America.’ I’m curious, what century were you turned in?”

M: Ahh! The curiosity of the young! So refreshing. You have asked for a century, my child, but I can give you better. It was in the sixth year of Nabonidus. Though perhaps by your modern dating conventions that does not tell so much. I imagine that you would say that it was between 600 and 500 BC. The exact date in your calendar eludes me.

J: From Bonnie, “Are the vampires in Munich older or stronger than you are?”

M: Ah! Munich and the True Council. Such an interesting question, as I do not believe the esteemed author has shown it to you yet. I understand that she plans to in the next volume. Are they older than I? Perhaps. As for strength, who can say. The contest would be a worthy one, assuming any of the ancient masters would stir from their slumber of indifference long enough to give one.

J: *clears throat* Yes. Moving on, another question from Juli, “Would you please tell us about the circumstances in which you were turned and a little about your sire. Is your sire still alive?”

M: An inquisitive mind, this Juli. How interesting. I have not spoken of my “sire” in many centuries. His appearance was of a beautiful youth, you would perhaps go so far as to call him a child by the standards of this time, but his age exceeded my own by nearly two hundred years. He had wearied of the company of those whose outward appearance matched his own, and so looked upon me as a nearer equal. When necessary, we passed ourselves as an old slave and young master, but as time progressed we turned to the more practical charade of father and son. As to his current existence, I could not say. If the rumors were true, then he is dead and has been for over a thousand years.

J: A final question from Juli, “It must be difficult to form friendships/relationships, when everyone around you is SOOOO much younger than yourself. You must feel as though you’re surrounded by “children” by comparison! Do you have anyone in your life that you can turn to, someone that you would consider a confidant or a friend?”

M: How very astute! Ah, but to have friends, child, one must have equals, and those are harder to find.

J: This question comes from Roger. “Don’t you ever get tired of blood? How about nice well done steak with chilli sauce?”

M: *laughs* A sense of humor, I see. How delightful. I can tell that he has never enjoyed the subtle bouquets of a well lived life. Can there be nothing better? For each person’s blood is as unique as they; teaming with their experiences, their turmoil, their fears, desires, the flavor of their environment. If one were tired of such a meal, it could only be because they have forgotten how to enjoy it.

J: As you say. Next is-

M: You seem to be in a rush, my son. Have you no comments to make? No witty banter to fit the spaces between the questions?

J: Not particularly, no.

M: Then why, I wonder, have you been sent to conduct this interview at all? Could I not have read the questions myself?

J: Yes. I suppose our… author wanted to make sure you didn’t skip any.

M: Did she? How interesting. I wonder which topics she felt I might shy away from? The question Bonnie asked about Kateesha, perhaps? Yes, let us have that one next.

J: *makes sound of annoyance* from Bonnie, “Did you and Kateesha have a thing going?”

M: “a thing”. What an interesting choice of words, Bonnie! Though you have not been specific, I can see clearly what you mean. No, we did not have the kind of romantic relationship you are imagining. I had hoped that Jorick would supply that for her.

J: You knew how I felt about her! A relationship of any kind with her would have been impossible!

M: *laughs lightly* Ah! How you like to pretend now! But you did not always spurn her advances so hotly. You have many virtues, my son, but chastity is not one of those. I believe this will lead nicely into the next question?

J: *growls low in throat* Also from Bonnie, “Why did you choose to turn Jorick?”

M: Aha! Even at an interview for another, it is Jorick who is the topic of interest! But I digress. The decision to give him immortality was not made lightly, for it should not be. Only the best and most interesting should be handed such a prize.  Look at him. Is he not beautiful? It was this that first caught my attention, but so many have been beautiful before and found wanting in other aspects. When I first clapped eyes on him, he was, of course, ignorant after the fashion of his people. Peasant stock, you might call him, but his lack of formal education did not diminish the intelligence that shone through his eyes. The potential was there. He lacked only the hand to guide his mind to the paths of knowledge that he so craved. But it was not just knowledge that he wanted, for it is not the virtues that makes one an intriguing companion, but the faults. My son is greedy. He wants it all – everything. He wants knowledge, and power, and strength, and what he has is never enough. Though he spouts the wisdom of old ones and claims to have cooled through his misery, he has not. The passion still burns in him, the hunger for more – more of everything. It is not enough to have loved, he must love more – longer, more fiercely, more completely. It is not enough to be strong, he must be the strongest, he must be feared-

J: if I want to be feared it’s only so others will leave me in peace!

M: Even in that you are greedy, for you want both peace and life at the same time. The thrill, the excitement, and yet you wish to have it at no personal cost, with no sacrifice on your part. You, my son, are a mass of greedy contradictions and THAT is why, when you came to me, demanding in your fury that I give you my strength, I honored your request.

J: Enough! There is another question from Bonnie-

M: But you have skipped dear Donna’s question, have you not? I believe that it follows this stream of thought. Since you will not ask it, I shall do so myself. Donna has asked of me, “Will you ever truly let Jorick go? You still seem to have some hold on him.” My answer must be this, does any parent let go of their child completely? Is there not always a pull, caused by the common blood, even among those parent/child sets who would claim to hate one another? His original biology is thanks to another, but was it not I who raised him from peasant to something greater? In all but the most biological, I am his father, and so he will always remain tied to me in that inexplicable way that a son can never be free of his parents.

J:*through clenched teeth* I am not tied-

M: Our dearest Donna has another question, it seems. Perhaps you would care to read it to me? Or shall I finish the interview on my own while you storm away in a fit of anger?

J: *growls* She wants to know what you think of the idiot.

M: I don’t believe that those were her exact words. “What do you think of Verchiel?” is her precise question, and an interesting one at that. Ah! Verchiel! What can one think of him? Just as I enjoy Jorick’s contradiction, so do I enjoy Verchiel’s seeming unpredictability. It is as if even he does not know what he will do from one moment to another, though there is more of a pattern than he thinks. I know which orders he will obey and which he will disobey, the interesting part is watching HOW he will do these things; how will he get from point a, to point b, as it were. Perhaps because of his mixed cultures, his mind is most intriguing.

J: He’s easy to predict. Just imagine the stupidest, most annoying, haphazard, imbecilic way of doing something, and that’s the path he’ll take.

M: You are unfair to him! Ah, but we all know why. Will you ask the next question?

J: I fail to see the obsession with the idiot, but Bonnie asks, “Why did you make Verchiel an Executioner when he is so unpredictable?”

M: For precisely that reason, my child. A little chaos is necessary if one wishes to maintain order, for just as you can not have light without dark, neither can there be discipline without its opposite. We are drawing to a close now, I see. But we have a final question.

J: It wasn’t for you. Barb wanted to ask it to Katelina-

M: And am I not equipped to answer it? Imagine even, that it is outside of my expertise, have I not seen her every thought and feeling, painted like figures on a sidewalk?

J: *growls low* I don’t think this is appropriate.

M: No, I imagine that you don’t. But I will answer it all the same. Barb has asked about sharing an intimate relationship with a vampire. She was kind enough to share a link (http://kenradaniels.com/2012/05/08/your-guide-to-sex-with-1/) and has asked, “-can [you] tell us if [Jo’s] vampires are like that?” Since the post it links to has a “checklist” of sorts, I shall do the same as it pertains to those living in the Amaranthine universe. I can not, however, speak for vampires in any other universe.

  • Point 1 – horny vampires bite – yes, this is true.
  • Point 2 – Vampires must be well fed or suffer a crisis of performance – yes and no. If you were to drain them dry, then the answer would be yes, however it is not necessary that they have fed immediately before, or even the same night of. It would be preferable for a human, however, for many reasons, one of which is that a hungry vampire is less likely to stop drinking.
  • Point 3 – the vampire’s bite is pleasurable – yes, of course it is, if this is what the vampire has in mind, which, during intimate associations, one would assume would be at the forefront of his or her intent.
  • Point 4 – vampires are pale and cold – they are paler, yes, but not necessarily white. I am not white. I was not white in mortal life, and so I am not so in immortality, either. The cold, however, is true unless they have fed on warm blood. Once they’ve fed, they’ll hold the warmth for several hours.
  • Point 5 – vampires have increased stamina – I imagine so. Especially since it is not even necessary, for a vampire, to have the traditional “sexual contact” in order to have what is, in effect, sex. This leads back to points 1 and 3, as the sharing of the blood (or drinking of the blood if it does not go both ways) and the mental and para-physical connection are the actual ‘sexual act’ itself, while the more traditional physically “sexual” contact is superfluous and could even be viewed in the same light as “foreplay” – merely there to add to what is already taking place, or will take place.

J: I think that’s enough. You’ve answer the question… thoroughly. Thank you to our readers. Next week we’ll interview Jamie-

M: An odd choice. But, I believe he was a write in candidate, wasn’t he?

J: Yes. If you’re not sure who he is, he’s one of the Executioners. And with that we’re finished here. Hopefully I will NOT see you next week, and Katelina will return to her interviewing duties, or I’m going to demand a raise!

If you’d like to leave questions for Jamie, please check out this blog and leave them in the comments section. Thanks!


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Ten Days of Giveaways: Day Five

To celebrate the release of the fourth book in the Amaranthine series I am hosting ten days of giveaways on this blog! Each day from, May 22 – 31, I will post a tiny excerpt of the fourth book and a prize. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment with your email address on the blog and you will be automatically entered to win the prize being given away in that blog post! (yes, that means to enter for all ten prizes you have to comment on each of the ten blogs.) If you’re not comfortable leaving your address in a comment, please email it to m at Joleene (at) JoleeneNaylor.com and be sure to let me know which blog you’re entering for.  Random.org will pick the winners on June 4th. I will contact the winners for your mailing address and send the prizes shortly after.

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Day Five:

Malick turned to Katelina with an indulgent smile. She couldn’t look away. Without realizing it, she stood and crossed to him. Physically, Malick was barely taller than she was, but his presence overwhelmed her.

He caught her chin with his fingertips and forced her to gaze into his dark, jewel like eyes. Where Jorick’s were like drowning in warm silk, Malick’s were like falling into naked flame. They seared into her consciousness. She whimpered but couldn’t move away.

He rolled over her until she lost all sense of herself or her feelings. The only thing that existed was the master and his flawless features. His skin was like tawny marble and, as if commanded, she touched his face. It was cool and smooth under her fingers. He was inside her mind. Instead of tearing at raw wounds as he had last time, he peered at things visible on the surface while a calming sensation gently cradled her.

When he released her, it was like falling from a vacuum into the real world. Her ears roared with the buzz of blood. She gasped for air, suddenly aware that she’d quit breathing. Her emotions and awareness of herself came rushing back. She saw her hand, still stretched towards him, and dropped it, mortified.

Three lucky winners will each get a set of three(3) bookmarks that include Verchiel, Malick and Torina.

a bad photo lol!

Good luck and thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check back tomorrow for another fun giveaway, and if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the other Ten Days of Giveaways blogs!

If you were Katelina, what memory or thought would you not want Malick to see? (I’ll share the most interesting answers(s) on facebook.)

Vampire Morsels: Kateesha

CONTENT WARNING: Sex, blood and violence, not only separate but all together. You’ve been warned.

As I prepped my notes for work on Ties of Blood, I noticed that I have a lot of side characters who, for one reason or another, don’t get any “me” time.  so, I’ve decided to remedy that in a collection of short stories called…

Kateesha

(You can find Kateesha in Shades of Gray & Legacy of Ghosts. Her story takes place in May, 1868, roughly a three years after the American Civil War. Also, another special guest appearance by Jorick 😉 )


Kateesha and Daniel steered their horses through the trees. The night clung to their shoulders like the black cloaks they wore, and they moved through it wordlessly. Ahead, shafts of moonlight danced into a clearing. Kateesha stopped and threw back her hood. Her dark skin gleamed and her mahogany eyes skimmed the surroundings.

“I can smell them.”

Her partner reined his horse to a stop and looked left to right, his eyes invisible beneath his hood. Though she couldn’t see them, she knew them. She’d gazed into them more than once, watched as his pupils flared and shrank with blood lust.  They made her think of another set of eyes; eyes so dark they seemed black, fringed in heavy lashes and shimmering with a thousand demons.

Jorick.

He’d been her partner so many times, in more ways than one. They’d come from the old world together, just her, him and their master. She’d sworn an oath of blood to them both, though she knew she would break it a thousand times over if Jorick told her to. On his word she’d betray Malick and damn the consequences.

She thought suddenly of her master. Though the ancient vampire was shorter than she was, he seemed a giant. His long beard and flowing hair were the color of fresh snow, and his eyes were like staring into the heart of a lightning storm. When she’d last seen him, he’d sat at a long table and glanced absently at a piece of parchment. “It appears we have a coven in Arkansas that has overstepped their bounds. My daughter, you and Daniel will bring these wayward children back to us so that I may chastise them myself.” A dark look came from one of the council members and Malick added, “Gently, of course.”

 “Of course, Father.” Though they used those titles, the relationship was not of human birth. Rather, he was her father in blood; her father in darkness. The mysterious man who’d swept through the brothel and brought her an immortal kiss, promising her a new life and a mate for eternity.

Jorick.

“Where are they?”

Daniel’s question brought her back to the task at hand. “Near.” She motioned towards the source of the scent. “It appears they’ve chosen to gather in the woods. However, their den is not far from here, if our information is correct.” She spurred on her horse, “Giddyup, Aethenoth.”

The animal whinnied and followed her directions at an easy pace. Kateesha breathed in deeply, as if seeking assurance. Yes, she could smell them still. Five men, or the remnants of them now made immortal. They gathered around a campfire, no doubt more for comfort than for warmth or light. Beneath their scent was the smell of human blood from more than one source. They’d made their meal and either kept the corpses or neglected to clean themselves.

The camp fire was suddenly visible between the trees and she slowed her horse to a walk. Old leaves crunched beneath his hooves and small animals scurried away. Though vampires could move silently, the horses couldn’t.

She signaled to Daniel and they stopped and dismounted. She tugged a sword from her saddle and motioned him to do the same. She hid the weapon under her heavy black cloak and crept forward. As they drew closer, she could see five figures huddled around the fire. They wore tatty, stained gray uniforms, relics of the newly ended war. Beards sprouted from their chins and faces, clotted with gore and blood. Seven bodies lay crumpled on the ground around them. Five wore the Union blue. The other two had dark skin and were dressed as civilians, or more likely ex slaves. All of their throats were identically torn out. The youngest, a boy of perhaps fourteen, still twitched. His eyes rolled in his head and his blood dyed his shirt crimson.

Daniel laid a hand to Kateesha’s arm. She stopped, an annoyed question in her eyes.

“Perhaps I should speak with them?” he suggested.

“Why?”

The word was cold, and he shivered under its power. “Because you’re a woman. Few men take orders from ladies.”

His reason was a lie and they both knew it. It wasn’t her sex they might take exception to, but her color. Though the human’s president had freed the slaves, and been shot for his efforts, the citizens of the south still held the same opinions they had before.  “I’m no lady, but fine.” Her tone was a soft purr. “You play the mighty man, and I’ll stand in the shadows this time.”

Daniel drew to the fore and she followed a few steps behind. They were nearly within the circle of light before the vampires noticed them. Their heads snapped up in unison and they squinted uncertainly at their visitors.

Kateesha reached out and touched their minds. As she moved from man to man, she saw scenes of blood and death; battlefields, dead comrades, a bleeding wife, a burned house, the twisted bodies of children. Yes, war was cruel and it had fostered this coven. They’d been nursed on the teat of destruction and nurtured by prejudice and ignorance. It was a coven destined to cause trouble.

The blonde nearest to the dying boy spoke first, “And who might ya’ll be?”

Daniel opened his cloak and flashed the silver medallion he wore around his neck; three pieces of intertwined metal that formed a twisted knot. “We’re here on official Guild business.”

A vague understanding washed over them. “If I rightly understand, that there Guild is the vampire gov’ment, ain’t it?”

Kateesha snickered behind her hood and Daniel answered impatiently, “Yes. Your presence is requested immediately.”

They laughed. Daniel’s body tensed. “This is no laughing matter.”

”Maybe it is and maybe it ain’t,” the blonde replied. He stepped forward and adjusted his bloody coat. “Why don’t yer try invitin’ us nicely?”

Daniel ground his teeth.  Kateesha moved next to him and silenced him with a thought. “I’ll handle this.”

“Is that a woman?” a redhead demanded. “This gov’ment’s sendin’ women ter do men’s work? Pshaw, we ain’t got nuthin’ ter worry ‘bout.”

“Don’t you?” she asked, her voice silk. “You are cordially invited to accompany us to the Guild’s fortifications where you will have an audience with our Master. Will you ever so kindly accompany us?”

They laughed again and the blonde slapped his knee. “Now that’s more like it. Good to see a woman what knows her place.” He turned back to Daniel. “Despite your right hospitable invitation, I’m afraid that me ‘n the boys will have ter decline on account a the fact we got too much work ter do here. The war may be officially over, but we reckon that with these new abilities we ought ter be able to start ‘er up again real soon. I reckon we could take a whole regiment by ourselves. Give them Yank bastards sumin’ ter think about.”

Kateesha’s laughter was light and silvery. The men glared at her, arms crossed over their chests. “And just what do yer find so funny, Miss?”

She dropped her hood and fixed them with her dark eyes. “I doubt you could successfully route a company composed of orphaned children, let alone a regiment.” She saw his reaction in his mind; saw what he thought her punishment should be for daring to speak out to a white man. It had been the punishment of another girl; a slave girl. Bound, ravaged and left to die.  Kateesha’s hand went to her sword before he even spoke.

“Hey there! You watch what you say, you nig-”

The word fell unfinished. With a single stroke of the blade, Kateesha severed his head.

The men jumped back, eyes as large as saucers. The redhead cried, “Holy Jesus! Who are you?”

Kateesha smiled a broad, fanged smile. “I’m the devil, and I’ve come to collect.”

Of the remaining four, two ran. The other pair attacked, or tried to. Too young and inexperienced, Kateesha cut them down in seconds. The scent of blood filled her nostrils and stirred her in a way that nothing else could. She wanted it. She wanted the feel of it, the taste of it. She wanted to bathe in it while Jorick watched, but since he wasn’t there Daniel would do, just as he had before.  

Her eyes flamed with lust and she grabbed his hand. “Come, we’ll catch the others.”

They raced headlong through the woods. Terror and youth made their prey clumsy and their lead was quickly lost. The men squealed. The leader, a brunette, tripped over a tree root and crashed to the ground. The redhead fell over him and landed in a horrified tangle of limbs.

Kateesha threw aside her sword and grabbed the redhead with her bare hands. She knelt, one knee in the middle of his back, and pulled his head back to expose his throat. Daniel stood over the brunette, his sword pressed to his chest.

“Oh sweet Jesus,” the redhead whimpered. “Please, in the name a the holy mother, have mercy. We didn’ do nuthin’. I swear. I swear we didn’t do nuthin’.”

She leaned down, her breath hot against his ear. “Isn’t that a pity, then? To die as a punishment when you haven’t had the fun of the offense?” She flicked his earlobe with her tongue and he whimpered.  Her fangs scraped over the delicate curve of his ear and then, she bit. She clamped down savagely and tore. His ear came away in her mouth with a spray of blood.

His screams echoed through the trees. She spit out the ear and licked her lips, her dark eyes shining. The brunette vampire screamed and writhed under the point of Daniel’s sword. “Oh, God. No! Please, no!”

“Don’t worry,” Kateesha purred. “You’re next.”  She turned back to her bucking, shrieking prey and buried her fangs in the side of his neck, under the bleeding hole where his ear had been. She ripped the flesh, peeling it away. His blood was hot and thick, and she gulped mouthfuls of it. His screams grew louder, higher pitched, more horrible as she bit into his shoulder, rending skin and shirt together in a mangled mess.

She met Daniel’s eyes. His nostrils flared and she could feel his desire; his need. The hot blood pulsed in her hands. She lifted a palm full and licked it, wiping the last of it over her face and her neck, to the collar of her cloak. She arched her back, and licked her lips, promising him anything he wanted.

He was weaker than Jorick had ever been. That small display was too much temptation and he broke under it. With a savage snarl, he threw aside his sword and set upon his terrified captive. The younger vampire screamed as Daniel’s fangs tore through his flesh. Hot blood sprayed out, coloring Daniel’s face and sandy hair.

Kateesha laughed and attacked her victim again. This time it was his wildly waving hand; his wrist. The bones snapped and popped and he shrieked. She could hear his terrified thoughts. He begged God to let him die, to let him pass out. Anything to end this torment. Thanks to his immortal blood, no such grace would be granted him.

The rest of his limbs cracked easily and she left him lay, broken and bleeding in a heap. Her heart raced and the smell of his death intoxicated her senses. But not just his death. The blood of his victims was still fresh in his system and not yet fully mixed. She could smell them; smell the negro and his life of labor, and the soldier and his prayers to see his new baby one more time. She could taste them and the cocktail inflamed her.

She peeled back her robe and gathered handfuls of the blood. She brought it to her mouth, and let the excess run through her fingers. It streamed over her heaving cleavage and down the bodice of her gown. She looked up to see Daniel watching her, his face and clothing covered in blood. The brunette vampire lay dead beneath him. His back was torn open. His broken ribs and spine were shiny in the moonlight. Next to him lay the squashed remnant of a heart.

A Quick kill.

Without words, Daniel moved to her. She pulled him to her roughly. The broken vampire next to her moaned softly, not so lucky to share the fate of his comrade. She wiped blood from his shoulder and smeared it over Daniel’s face and his eager lips. His tongue darted out and cleaned her fingers. Without breaking eye contact, he smeared blood over her cheek, down her neck. She leaned back and tore at her dress and the corset beneath. Cloth ripped beneath her impatient fists and she discarded the scraps.

With fresh handfuls, he painted her dark breasts in crimson. She moaned and ground her hips against his. He pressed back, his need a hard knot of urgency.

She tackled him to the ground. He writhed beneath her and she straddled him, rubbing her body against his. She stared into his eyes, not black but green. They weren’t the eyes she wanted to gaze into, but they would do for now. They would be a vehicle to her memories, to the night in the eastern territory so many years ago when she and Jorick had bathed in the blood of the rogues. She’d drawn scarlet symbols on his skin and licked him clean again. She could still remember his scent and the soft growl when he surrendered to her and the blood.

She closed her eyes and mentally conjured Jorick. Sightless, she ripped at the clothes of the man beneath her, no longer Daniel, but another. She tore away his cloak, his shirts, and ran her hands over his naked chest. He groaned her name; a plea to end the agony of his need.

A plea she would gladly grant.

With an inhuman howl, she sank her teeth into his shoulder and bit. His hot blood filled her mouth and the world shifted; pulsed. He bit back, his teeth sharp. The pain was delicious and then it melted into something more. Her every nerve burned, quivered, screamed.  Torn between ecstasy and agony in a world of shimmering shadows and screaming desire. It no longer mattered if he was Jorick or Daniel or someone else. Only the blood and the need mattered.

Something pulled her from her trance-like absorption and she released Daniel, though he held on, his teeth buried in her arm, his expression glazed ecstasy. She turned her face to the broken redhead. He lay next to them, his gurgling mouth opened and his dying eyes wide. Kateesha laughed and wiped the blood from her.

“Do you want some?’ she asked huskily. “Do you want to die like you’ve never lived?”

Before he could answer, she sank her fangs into his good shoulder and his world exploded in a flash of nightmare pleasure.

Traveling by night, it took them a week to get to the Guild’s fortifications in Iowa. Half brick, half wood, what would soon be a monstrosity was only partially finished.  Kateesha could imagine the coming grandeur, but she didn’t care. This was already the third location since she’d come to the new country. It would move again.

Malick waited in the audience chamber, a long, low room paneled in wood. Five chairs sat at one end, under an antique tapestry. He sat in the center chair, a pale woman on his left and a dark skinned male on his right; two of the five council members.

Malick’s thundercloud eyes swept over the newly returned pair. His question came like a gentle slap, “Where are those you were sent to bring back?”

Kateesha dropped to her knees before him. “Father, they were troublesome and we were forced-”

“Forced?” The room seemed to shake with his displeasure. “Would you lie to me? I can see the events in your mind! I see the orgy! Is that what you make of your missions? Do my orders mean so little to you?”

Kateesha could feel his fury. “No, of course not, Father!” She dared to look up and offered him her most winning smile. “They were of little use. Ignorant, uneducated, filthy-”

“As were you when I found you!”

The smile disappeared from Kateesha’s face and her eyes went as cold as ice water castles. “They deserved their deaths!”

The dark council member leaned forward. “It is not your judgment to make! Your job is to carry out your orders as they are given to you!”

“Yes,” the woman agreed. “You have disobeyed too many times, Kateesha. You are a dangerous element that has proved uncontrollable, and your partner in this is no better. Leave us while we decide what your fate will be.”

Kateesha felt the blood drain from her face and her stomach twisted. There was only one fate for breaking the laws: death. Panic consumed her and she threw herself prostrate on the floor, her hands on Malick’s feet. “Please Father!” she cried. “We’re sorry! We did not mean to disobey you! It will never happen again!”

“So you’ve said before,” the council woman answered sharply. “Yet here we are. Your words are lies that you shine with your charm. I will not fall prey to such traps. Now leave us!”

Kateesha snarled at her and turned her eyes to Malick. “Father, please! Forgive us! I beg you! Have mercy!”

Malick withdrew his feet and pointed silently to the door. His face was as unreadable as marble, and the blood in Kateesha’s veins turned to ice.

“Go,” the dark council member ordered. “We will call for you when a decision is reached.”

And so they went. Not just out of the audience chamber, but out of the building, to the stables. Their horses were too tired to be taken again. Kateesha threw a single, regretful glance back at Aethenoth as they rode away on someone else’s steeds.

The horses ran full tilt and only when they could take no more did Kateesha call a halt. Daniel slid from his saddle, his eyes on the lonely road behind them. “They’ll hunt us.”

“Perhaps. Would you rather have stayed there and waited for your death to be handed to you?”

His silence hung heavy. At last he answered, “No.”

“Good. Once the horses have rested we’ll need to find shelter. It will be morning soon.”

Daniel nodded and then, in a tone so low she could hardly hear, he asked, “Do you love me?”

The question caught her by surprise and she laughed. “Should I?”

He looked away. His mouth twisted unhappily. “We’ve been partnered on several missions now. We work well together.  We-” he broke off but she could see the bloody memories in his mind.

“We fuck well together?” she asked unabashedly.

He balked at her language, but didn’t deny it. “I’ll do anything you want me to, you know that.”

She patted down the horse absently. “I’ve heard that a hundred times, or a thousand. That’s the second line every man uses, right after ‘you’re beautiful’.”

“You are,” Daniel said quietly. “I’ve never met a woman like you.”

“And that’s the third. Next you’ll promise me your undying devotion, and maybe your soul.” She made a dismissive gesture with her hand. “It’s the same. You’re all the same.”

Except for Jorick.

Daniel had no reply.

They rode for days. When they grew tired of running they took a farm house and kept the occupants for their dinner. They dragged their deaths out to a week, but then they drained the final child.

“We will have to hunt tomorrow,” Kateesha said as she mopped herself up.

Daniel nodded absently, his eyes still clouded with the after moments of their feast. His clothing lay in a heap beside him and the last of the child’s blood was smeared across his chest.  He gazed at Kateesha as she cleaned herself and pulled on layers of white linen undergarments.  A chemise, a corset, petticoats-

A knock sounded on the door. While Daniel went stiff, shocked back to the present. Kateesha sniffed the air and smiled. She could smell their visitor. She knew who he was and she knew what he wanted, but she was sure she could persuade him otherwise.

She wrenched the corset opened so that her ample breasts nearly spilled out the top, and carefully smoothed her hair.  After a quick glance in the mirror, she dropped one strap of her chemise, leaving her shoulder naked and whispering to be touched.

That should be enough.

She opened the door and let her eyes drink in the man before her. Tall and lean with broad shoulders and silky hair as black as midnight. She knew how that hair smelled and smiled at the memory of it wrapped around her fingers.

His voice was neither hostile nor friendly, only impatient. “You know why I’m here.”

“No, Jorick,” she said innocently. “I have no idea.”

“Malick sent me.”

“Did he?” She gazed at him from under heavy lids, and let her eyes slide lower, past his belt. Her tongue flicked out involuntarily and traced her full, lower lip. “I thought perhaps you’d come to see me.”

Jorick drew back a step, his face hard. “I’m married now.”

Kateesha leaned against the door frame and pouted. “Yes, I know, and to such a plain, timid little thing. Can you truly be happy with her? Oren’s sister would suit you more. Even that little girl in Texas would have been a better choice. Sarita, wasn’t it?”

His nose curled with disdain. “You know I have no love for Spaniards.”

“She wasn’t a Spaniard, but a Mexican and she filled your bed easily enough.”

“There is a difference between sharing love and a bed.”

“And do you love this new woman, this Velnya? Can you really?” Kateesha was suddenly on him, her hands on his shoulders, her breasts pressed against his hard chest and her lips brushing his neck. “Can she really give you all the things I can?”

“Enough.”

Jorick knocked her away. Surprised, she stumbled and landed on the floor in a heap of petticoat. She jerked to her feet, her forehead puckered in anger. “Don’t do that again!”

“I’ll do it as many times as necessary. Malick ordered me to spare you, so get out of my way!”

She reached for his mind and plucked the scene from it. The council was angry. They shouted. They demanded her blood. Jorick must be sent. Only he was strong enough to do what must be done without falling victim to Kateesha’s charms. But Jorick was tired. Newly arrived from a dispute in Indian territory, he wanted to go home. His little wife needed him.  She sent terrified letters, afraid of the local population. Cattle had died. First only a handful and then by the herd. They blamed her. They called her a witch. But Malick owned him the same as he owned Kateesha. He’d given them his blood and gotten their unwavering loyalty in exchange. Jorick was nothing more than his dog, and his request was denied. Only… No. Privately, Malick made a deal. He would free Jorick from his debt if he spared Kateesha and took only Daniel’s life. Jorick agreed quickly. He had other things to attend to.

Jorick shoved past Kateesha and stormed through the house. She leaned against the doorframe and closed her eyes. She heard Daniel shout, and then she heard the scuffle. Wood smashed. Something ceramic broke to bits. Then, Daniel screamed.  At the sound she had a sudden vision of his lust filled eyes locked with hers and something fluttered in her chest. She dismissed it cruelly. Daniel was nothing. He was a diversion. A replacement.

Jorick reappeared, a splash of blood across one cheek. Kateesha moved quickly and used her petticoat to wipe it away. He jerked back and glared at her. “I don’t have time for this.”

“Don’t you?” she asked, packing every innuendo she could into the syllables. “Velnya will keep for a night.” She caught his hand and tugged him towards her. “I’ve missed you, and I know you’ve missed me. Come, for one night it will be like it was. Do you remember that night under the stars, after we’d defeated the rogues?” She pressed against him again and looped an arm around his waist. “Do you remember the way they tasted? The way I tasted?” Her lips hovered over his throat. “I remember your flavor-”

As if he’d suddenly broken free from a spell, he jerked away. “No!” He stepped back and ran a hand through his hair. “No.”

“But, Jorick, I love you.” She reached for him. He caught her hands and held them away from him.

“No, Kateesha, you don’t. You love a shadow. I’m not that man anymore and now that Malick has released me, I am free, and I won’t be that man ever again. I don’t want to be.” He dropped her hands and turned for the door. “If you value your life I suggest you give the council at least a year to forgive you before you stage a return.”

He didn’t wait for her reply, but ducked out into the night. She glared at his disappearing figure with narrowed, burning eyes. How dare he reject her? How dare he turn his back on her? On a whim she could make any man crawl through the mud for her, begging for a word, a touch, a taste. How dare he resist!

He’s leaving!

She threw her pride aside and plunged out into the darkness. He stood next to his horse, one foot in the stirrup. She rushed towards him. “Dammit Jorick! You are who you are! You can’t run from your nature simply because you wish it to be something different! You can not take shelter in a falsehood!”

He paused to look at her. “That was never my nature, Kateesha, only yours and Malick’s. It is the falsehood I’m running away from.”

He swung into the saddle in a smooth motion and nudged the horse forward. Kateesha’s hands turned to fists at her side. “You can’t hide, Jorick!” she screamed. “You love me, and you know it! I was made to be with you! You belong to me!” Her words turned shrill and hysterical. “I will have you! One day you will beg me for mercy on your knees! Do you hear me?”

He didn’t look back. His only acknowledgement was a flippant half wave. Then, he spurred his horse forward and rider and animal raced away into the darkness.

Kateesha stood alone, her petticoats gleaming white under the moon and one fist raised as she shouted, “Do you hear me, Jorick? You’re mine and you’ll always be mine! Do you hear me? I own you! I own you!”

There was no answer. She dropped her fist and glanced back to the opened door. Inside Daniel lay in a pool of his own blood, shattered and dead. She shoved away the burgeoning emotions. She couldn’t afford to care. Daniel was of no consequence.  Jorick was her goal. They were bound together for eternity, whether he understood that or not. He was hers and ultimately she was his.

Regardless, he’d  chosen Velnya over her.

Only for now, she told herself. Only for now. One day he will repent his choice.

She’d make sure of it.

*******

Next up is Nirel. I know zero about him, so it should be a good chance to do something random. I *think* there are only four left to go before I’m done and ready to put out the collection on Smashwords/Amazon/B&N etc. I intend to leave each story on Smashwords etc. for free and do the collection for $.99. Mainly it’s to put them on Amazon (who does not allow free books) but what the heck, someone might be willing to pay a buck for all of them in one file rather than downloading each one individually as there are 16 total. 

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