Interview with Jorick: Part 1

amaranthine interviews

 

Hello! And welcome to the weekend Amaranthine interviews where YOU ask the questions!

In honor of the new book, I’m going to give everyone else some time off and conduct these interviews myself. See what a good author I am?

02-jorickJo: Today we have Jorick on the chopping block – I mean in the hot seat. We have a LOT of questions for him, so I’m going to have to break this up into two interviews. What follows is part one, and is still long, so I will try to keep his answers brief. Truthfully, that shouldn’t be hard considering how uncooperative he is.

Jorick: I’d hardly call myself uncooperative. They just usually ask…uncomfortable questions.

Jo: They ask good questions. Anyway, let’s get to it. Matthew asks: Where and what year were you born in?

J: That’s easy enough. I was born in 1533 in the Netherlands.

Jo: Okay.  Steve asks: Where did you get that name? Couldn’t you change it?

J: My parents gave it to me. I could change it, I suppose. Many do change their names when they are turned – symbolic of their new life – but I saw no reason for it.

Jo: Amber asks: Jorick, have you, ever since you’ve been turned, thought about finding a cure? Or something to reverse vampirism (if possible)?

J: No, not at all. I won’t bother lying, I’m happy with immortality. I’m not interested in a mortal death – or any kind of death for that matter.

Jo: Despite all your crap about lost souls?

J: *shrugs* Nothing is free. Immortality comes with a price. I haven’t complained about it, simply stated it as a fact.

Jo: You’re being very zen today. All right, Jennifer asks: Do you like being a vampire? What do you like most and least about it?

J: Yes, I like it. I suppose living forever is one of the perks, though when I asked to be turned it wasn’t for the long life, rather the strength. It’s very…reassuring to know that I can handle anyone necessary. As for what I like the least, it would be the inconvenience of the sun. There are many times when I’ve needed to handle things in daylight hours, and a human has not always been available or practical as an emissary. I do envy the Twilight vampires in that regard.

sparkle jorickJo: Do you? You didn’t feel that way when I made you sparkle.

J: Very funny. I said in that one regard.

Jo: Juli asks: You’ve lived a long and interesting existence. Would you mind naming one of your most memorable historical events that you’ve had the pleasure of being witness to? Even if it wasn’t a personal observation, I’d still be interested in hearing your point of view.

J: Hmmmmm. What you would call the Eighty Years War would be the most memorable on a personal level, though I was only present until 1568, when I left with Malick…but I don’t think my author will allow me to discuss that, as I get quite…passionate is a polite word. The American Civil War is probably the most modern occurrence that effected me in any way, though by then Velnya and I had moved to the Nebraska territory. I was often on assignments and wanted to be sure she would not be left alone in a war zone, and Nebraska seemed a safe, if barren, place for her. I was wrong, of course. I did have some assignment in the south where I had run ins with the hostilities. Of modern affairs, World War I and World War II were little more than snatches on a radio to me, and that was when I bothered to listen. I did watch the moon landing – I was in the house in Maine by then and at the time I had a small television. Of course, the landing was broadcast in the daytime, so it meant rising early. I was a little disappointed, as it was nothing like the Jules Verne-style version I had imagined.

Jo: I’m going to stop you right there. Donna says: Why don’t you tell us more about your time in Virginia – not about Oren, not about Velnya, but all about you? Tell your author to write a short story on that.

jesslynn

Jorick guest stars in Oren and Jesslynn’s FREE origin story.

J: There’s not really much to tell. Malick was…overbearing to say the least and I was tired of being under his thumb, so in 1814 I moved farther away. I took the plantation from a man who did not deserve it, and to be truthful was gone much of the time on assignments. Eventually it became impossible to maintain the household so I surrendered and moved back to Massachusetts where The Guild was located at the time. As for my author and a short story, I think she suffers from political correctness syndrome. As I said I took the plantation; slaves and all. Though I treated them far better than their previous master, at the same time I did not free them, nor do I apologize for the fact. Vampires still have slaves; human slaves and immortal slaves. I don’t apologize for those, either. It is as it is. But, it makes my author uncomfortable, I think, just as she refused to point out that Arowenia was really Claudius’ half-sister. As for Claudius and Arowenia, I’m not sure that either of them were aware of it, but my author certainly is.

Jo: That’s enough from you. Shaun wants to know: Jorick whom is your most feared enemy?

J: I fear no one. *Rolls eyes as Jo glares at him* I don’t. I was…concerned slightly about facing Malick because he is my master, and there is a master/fledgling connection, but I did not fear him, rather that I would be weak and fail to exact my revenge.

Jo: So in the end your most feared enemy is not a who, but a what: Your own weakness. *Jorick glares and Jo snickers* Start telling people about what *I* think, will you? Onwards. Teresa asks: What is your favorite book and why?

J: A good question, though it’s hard to choose a single book. Sir Author Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories are excellent. Those books about the boy wizard -while the prose are not amazing, the stories were entertaining. Dickens is always good. Let’s see. John Grisham, James Fenimore Cooper, Hemmingway has his merits, Victor Hugo, Vladimir Nabokov, Byron. Shakespeare is classic, and of course there’s Poe, “It was many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea, That a maiden there lived whom you may know by the name of Annabell Lee; And this maiden she lived with no other thought than to love and be loved by me.”

Jo: Sherry asks: Can you really give up the Executioners?

J: Yes. I did so before, and I will be happy to do it again. Despite the assumption that I can’t “keep my nose out of things”, I most certainly can and, should I choose to get involved, I don’t need The Guild’s backing to do so.

alexander

Jorick gets a cameo in Alexander, a FREE short story.

Jo: You are a bit conceited, aren’t you? Steve asks: Would it be possible for you to play a few tricks or have a joke, or laugh uproariously at something? What tickles your funny bone apart from satisfaction at seeing Micah in the poo?

J: Seeing Micah – or the redheaded idiot, or any number of others – suffer would no doubt elicit a great deal of amusement. Beyond that, I find many things funny. Yogi bear, for instance, is amusing, as were some of the early television shows. Red Skelton, Lucile Ball – when she and Ethel work in the chocolate factory, for example. I enjoyed the banter on Star Trek, especially between Spock and the doctor. My television broke in the seventies, and since programming had gone south I didn’t bother having it repaired, so I don’t have any “more modern” examples…MAD magazine gave me a chuckle at one time, but like TV it has also lost its humor. It’s the world that has forgotten how to be funny rather than I who have lost my sense of humor.

Jo: Maegan wants to know: Jorick, what is the most fascinating thing about Katelina to you? What is the most annoying?

J: Her contradictions are probably the most intriguing. One moment she is blood thirsty, the next she screams about peace (which is a contradiction itself as peace cannot be achieved by screaming). In some things she is incredibly naive, while in other things she is worldly and wise. As for the most annoying…her contradictions. One minute going to war is the right response, and the next she’s angry that I killed someone… I think you understand.

Jo: Yes, you’re a lunatic. Moving on. Dawn asks: In book 2 when you tried to send Katelina home do you think you would have stayed away or would you have gone to check up on her?

J: *looks uncomfortable* I’d have respected her choice.

Jo: Liar. You’d have moped briefly, then gone roaring back to Ohio. You still had the apartment paid up, and you’d have moved back in. When you realized she didn’t live across the street anymore you’d have stalked her mother’s house, and eventually followed her home. You’d have then hung around her for awhile, moaning to yourself silently and playing the martyr until you got tired of that, then you’d have manned up, knocked on the door, and told her to grow up and pack her things.

J: Which of us are being interviewed?

Jo: At this point? No one because we’re going to end it here and pick this up next week.  I do have a couple of follow up questions for Samael and Verchiel that we’re going to throw in here.

18-verchielVerchiel: Sounds fun! What do you have for me?

Jo: From Donna: How can you stand working with moody Jorick?

V: Hello, Donna! *looks at Jorick* Eh, he’s not too bad. He’s more bark than bite.

Jo: And also from Donna: admit it. You love Katelina.

J: That’s not a question!

V: *looks at Jorick* Technically he’s right, it’s a statement, but there’s no need to be picky about it. Sure. I love everyone. I’m a good guy like that.

35-samaelJo: Let’s just move on to Samael. Also from Donna:  Are you sorry you were awakened?

Samael: Greetings. As to the question, no. I have waited uncounted years for this moment and at last it is within my grasp.

Jo: I suspected that would be your answer. A final question, Steve asks: What do you do to humans who don’t get your name right? Especially what do you do after you suck their blood.

S: I have no care for them, or what they call me. A name means nothing; it is only so many sounds – a label so that feeble minds can comprehend the incomprehensible, for what is more incomprehensible than an individual, a living being? As to what I do once I have drained them, I dispose of the vessel if necessary. However it is not always necessary for me to empty a mortal, as older vampires need less blood as they age.

Jo: And I think that wraps us up for this week. Tune in next week for Jorick’s Interview Part 2, where the questions are even tougher!

J: Joy.

Jo: And of course, I can’t let him have the last word, so thanks for stopping in! In case you missed it, Book Born – the awesome facebook group – is hosting a day with Joleene Naylor this Thursday. Check out my blog post for all the details.

 

FRONT COVER - 250signature for whiteAnd don’t forget that you can get your copy of Masque of the Vampire, from all major outlets:

Smashwords |Paperback | Amazon |Kobo |  Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks |Kobo |

 

Did you miss some of the interviews? 

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Masque of the Vampire – Collector’s Edition Cover Reveal

I’ve had several people ask, “Is there going to be a collector edition of Masque of the Vampire with the hand drawn cover?” The answer to this is yes. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa – I mean, yes vampire lover, there will be a collector edition.

I don’t have links yet (Create Space – aka the paperback people – do not allow for pre-orders) but I do have the cover, so I thought I’d share it with you.

collector's edition

The cover features a new character Annabelle. I’ve had her planned for a long, long time, so I was excited to finally get to use her. Of course writing her turned out to be different than I thought, but that’s the fun of writing.

Though there’s no preorder for the paperback, you can preorder the ebook from:

Barnes & Noble
Apple iBooks
Kobo

Let me know what you think. Good? Bad? Indifferent?

 

Interview with Rajveer

Hello! My name is Katelina, and welcome to Weekend Character Interviews. Using state of the art-mumbo-jumbo author magic, Jo has temporarily bent the laws of fictional space and time to allow various literary universes to converge long enough for me to ask different characters a few questions. Since I spend a lot of time in the Amaranthine series quizzing vampires on what they’re doing, where they’re going and why, Jo thought I would be the perfect interviewer. 

Today we have Rajveer from Rajveer the Vampire by Barbara G. Tarn.

image by Ajay Goyal from Flickr

Katelina: Welcome Rajveer! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Rajveer: I’m Rajveer of the Guhilas of Mewar, a kshatryia (warrior) of the mighty Chittorgarh, capital of the kingdom at the time of my birth. I’m tall and handsome, with honey-colored eyes and I had the most beautiful wife one could wish for… I was twenty-seven when my physical body died and I became an immortal bloodsucker.

K: Immortal bloodsucker. You make it sound like a bad thing…Though I get it. I’ve had my own issues with the concept. How has it been since you were turned?

R: I’ve had a very lonesome second life. I found a coven, but they’re not family. I made a fledgling, but he’s like a younger brother. I miss the wisdom of the elders. And I don’t seem to be able to fall in love again.

K: So no romance, huh?

R: Since my beloved Charumati died at the siege of Chittor, no. I guess my heart died with my body, but it’s hard to express one’s feelings when one is surrounded by merciless demons.

K: You speak of merciless demons, do you mean your enemies?

R: I can’t call her enemy or nemesis, but the all powerful Mekna is a mighty foe. She can’t kill me, can’t turn me into one of her own, but she won’t let me go either. She wants me to take her to my maker – except I have no idea of where he is…

K: So that would probably be one of the biggest challenges in your story.

R: Yes. Running away from Menka’s coven with my fledgling, Shashank. Impossible.

photo by Jo Naylor

K: What’s the one thing you think helped to shape you the most?

R: Being turned into a child of darkness. I belong to a Suryavanshi clan, we’re sun people. And now I live mostly under the moon… and feed on blood. No wonder I’m so gloomy all the time, right? I don’t need to kill anyone and I avoid drinking human blood, though.

K: That’s something at least. If you could have anything in the world, would it be to go back to who you were or…

R: Just getting away from Menka’s bloodsucking demons and being alone with Shashank somewhere where we could blend in. And we’d move after a few years to some other place so they won’t notice we don’t age. We’d never kill our neighbors…

K: You’re pretty nice for a vampire. Most are happy to kill people off. Just a couple more questions. If you could say anything to your readers, what would it be?

R: *stares at Katelina* I have readers? Are you a witch like Samantha? I thought you were just someone from this century trying to help me fit in…

K: Oh. Um. Well, yes, I’d be happy to help…Um, in the meantime, do you have anything you’d like to say to your author?

cover225x225R: You mean someone is writing my story? I’m impressed. I didn’t think I was worthy story material…

K: Yes, it is surprising sometimes to find out that people are interested in crazy things like where you sleep, and what you eat, and whether you pee in the middle of night.

R: *looks confused* What?

K: Never mind. Sorry. It’s just stressful being a main character. But you’ll find out soon enough! 

Thanks to Rajveer for stopping in. You can preorder Rajveer the vampire from:

 

Amazon, Apple US, Barnes&NobleKobo and Smashwords.

And a special thanks to Barbara Tarn for playing along!

If you’re an author and would like your character(s) to be interviewed by me, then check out this very cool page that has all the details:

https://joleenenaylor.wordpress.com/character-interviews/

Pre-Orders and Verchiel

VERCHIELIf you missed the last Ink Slingers’ Anthology (Strange Portals), the included installment of the Tales of the Executioners – Verchiel – is now available as a standalone! Get your free copy from:

Verchiel wakes up in an unfamiliar room with a busty woman standing over him. He can’t recall who she is – or even who he is – let alone how he’s become an immortal blood drinker. As he tries to discover the answers, he must also learn to control his blood lust or fight an entire village of panicked people.

On a side note, the newest Tale is Beldren, which you’ll be able to get in the newest anthology, whose release date is October first.

FRONT COVERAnd speaking of release dates in the future, Book 8, Masque of the Vampire,(publication date April 1st) is now up for pre-order at most sites (Amazon only allows a 30 day pre-order, so it won’t be there until March 2016). So pre-order your copy today so you won’t have to worry about it in March!

I will say that a better description, and maybe some cover tweaks are coming, but it needed both *now* in order to set up the pre-order.

Ark – Tales of the Executioners

executioner banner

This is the second of the Tales of the Executioners, which I’ll eventually release as freebie short reads and then bundle together in a collection, much like Vampire Morsels.

The Executioners are the vampire’s equivalent of special police. They go on “assignments” that The Guild (the vampire government) sends them on, and they don’t have a reputation for being very nice. It’s a reputation that is often well deserved.

ARK

This story takes place in April, 1972.

Rain streaked the windshield and Ark stared through it to the dark landscape beyond. The world was colored in night; shades of blue and purple. It had been so long since he’d seen the sun that he’d forgotten the other colors. Vague memories stirred, over bright and painted in green, blue, and yellow. They belonged to another place and another time. Just like she did.

A sign went past. “Welcome to California”. The painted letters filled his stomach with lead. Unwittingly, his eyes were drawn to the manila folder in the passenger seat. He knew the contents by heart. The neatly typed papers outlined the terrible crimes of a vampiress and passed sentence on her. He’d read hundreds like it in the last two hundred and sixty years since he’d joined the Executioners – the elite police force of the vampires. He’d seen hundreds of pictures and hundreds of sketches. He had learned to take them with the cold detachment of someone with a job to do. They had broken the law. They deserved to be punished. But this time, when he’d looked into the dark Xeroxed eyes of the photo, his insides had turned to ice.

It had been so long since he’d seen her, and in that time a thousand different emotions had come and gone, until he’d thought he was indifferent to her. He told himself for the thousandth time that he could do this. He could do his duty, keep his honor. Even if she begged he would not be swayed.

She isn’t who the woman you remember anymore.

It was three in the morning when he stopped for gas and directions. The man inside was courteous but wary, as he should be. Though Ark was careful not to show his fangs, or do anything that would send the cashier into a panic, the man could still sense the unnatural danger standing next to the candy bar display. Ark knew because he could smell the man’s fear and hear his thoughts. It was a trait he’d inherited when he’d been turned into a vampire and he’d spent the last three-hundred-plus years perfecting it.

The man’s directions were good, and Ark soon parked in front of a stucco house on the edge of town. Yucca plants swayed in the dark and palm trees rustled above his head. He checked the time and logged it in his book, then grabbed the dagger from the glove box. By habit he pulled it from the scabbard, just enough to see the cold gleam of the clean blade. He snapped it back with a clink of finality, and forced himself out of the car and up the stone walk.

This is just an assignment. Like any other. She broke the law.

He didn’t knock, only threw the door open and strode inside. A guard sat on the couch wearing the customary gray uniform of The Guild. He jumped to his feet, magazine in hand and surprise on his face. His fear melted into terror and he snapped a shaky salute. “S-Sir. You’re early.”

Ark shoved a folded piece of paper at him. “Take me to the prisoner.”

The guard quickly scanned the contents. Underneath the pronouncement was Malick’s signature, and seal; A knot of three interlocking rings. It was the same symbol Ark wore around his neck, the sign of the Executioners and their authority.

The guard gave a stiff nod and mumbled, “She’s, um, she’s this way. Downstairs.”

Ark followed through the house and down the cellar steps. The basement was a single windowless room with a dirt floor. A pair of coffins sat against one wall, the lids askew. Guards were scattered around. Three played cards, one fiddled with a transistor radio. Two more were lost in conversation. In the midst of them all sat Dovina, tied to a chair, arms behind her back. She wore a pair of faded jeans and a loose, patterned top. Her long golden hair fell around her shoulders, a casual braid intermingled amongst the strands. Her pale skin was as flawless as Ark remembered and her eyes…

Ark’s escort cleared his throat. The guards jerked to their feet, their pastimes forgotten, but Ark barely noticed them. All of his attention was riveted on Dovina. He sought desperately for the cold indifference that had settled over his memories of her but in her presence it was gone, replaced with crystal clear moments that played like movies behind his eyes. She stood in the courtyard, bathed in golden sunlight, a pail in one hand, and a rough dress draped over her frame. As if she sensed his attention she turned towards him, and when their eyes touched, fire erupted in his chest and left him breathless.

He tried to swallow away his emotions and find his usual calm. The tinkle of piano played in his head and in his mind he saw her as she was when she was his, dressed in silk, her fingers trailing languidly across the ivory keys, the same way that she touched him in the dark. The pretty smile was on her lips and, though the other men stared, the gleam in her eyes said she only saw him.

Just as he only saw her.

“Ark. I hoped it would be you.”

Her voice brought him back to the present, and he jerked the paper from the guard’s hands.  Two of them hurried forward to untie her and pull her to her feet. One stood at each arm, holding her up, waiting for Ark to announce the sentence and carry it out. He was an Executioner. He had other assignments. He didn’t have time to linger. He would want to do it quickly.

And I should, he thought. Before it’s too late.

But it was already too late.

The guards looked at Ark expectantly, and he motioned them to release her. “I can handle this myself. I suggest you get started on the paper work.”

“We’ve already-” the guard faltered and broke off at one look from Ark. “Yes, sir. Of course.” He snapped a quick salute and motioned the others to do the same. Though the pair that held Dovina’s arms exchanged quizzical looks, they relented and followed their fellows upstairs.

The cellar door closed and Dovina remained standing, her ocean colored eyes locked with his. Though he couldn’t feel it, he knew she was in his head, sorting through his thoughts. Just as he could read minds, so could she. The product of sharing the same master.

“You might as well read the sentence. I know what it says.”

He drew a deep breath and looked away. Masonry crumbled in the corner and it held his gaze, as if it was the most interesting thing in the world. “I did what I could. I asked Malick for leniency.”

And Malick’s answer had been to give Ark the assignment instead of Phillip. “Since it so concerns you,” he’d said, wearing his cold, benevolent smile. Ark could see beneath the fake kindness to the darkness underneath, but there was nothing he could do. He had sworn an oath to uphold the laws and, as the head of the Executioners, those laws were at Malick’s whim.

He put as much authority into his voice as he could manage. “You killed an entire coven, Dovina. Why?” She stepped towards him and he looked to her, then back to the corner again.

“They killed Eric, Ark. What was I supposed to do?”

Eric. His name was like the dagger that Ark stuffed in his pocket. “And what did Eric do to them?”

“Nothing.”

She came to a stop before him. For a moment he could see their entire history written on her face, hear the echo of past laughter in her voice, the shadow of forgotten tears in her eyes. The world was old even then, but they were young. Constance was his aunt, or so she called herself, and he worked diligently at every task she set for him. When she offered immortality to her “pretty nephew”, he took it, and when she offered him a gift of anything he desired, he asked only for Dovina, the servant girl down the street. The one whose golden hair shone like a halo in the sunlight.

Constance acquired her, and Dovina came to him readily enough. Together they tasted the darkness and all it had to offer. It wasn’t the dark gift that changed her, rather time itself. A new century crept close and they left Constance for the New World. In the wilderness they spent nights lost among the trees, slipping into what passed for civilization and out again, like ghosts. They made love in the wilds with only the birds as witness, and danced naked under the cloak of moonlight. But eventually the siren call of humanity was too strong. It was harder and harder to leave behind the fire lit cities, harder to give up the taste of human blood for that of the beast. They rented a room above a shop, and paid their bills with coins taken from their victims. Dovina wore gay frocks and slippers, and he had a ridiculous wig that was the envy of half the township. They thought themselves dashing after the fashion, but privately laughed at the ridiculousness of it all.

Then the vampire came. In a single night he slaughtered the inhabitants of one street and started on a second. When he reached their room Ark removed his head and with trembling hands cut out his still beating heart. The Executioners arrived the next night, surprised to see their work finished for them. There were only two of them then and they were recruiting. They could use the help, and it would be good for him to do something useful; something besides wear silly wigs and buy silk.

Dovina watched as he bowed before Malick and swore the oath. The job was easy enough at first; mostly rogue vampires who thought a new world meant they could slaughter at will with no regard for secrecy, but as time passed the assignments became bloodier and more frequent. The territories continued to expand, and his absences grew longer. He rode away one too many times in the middle of the night, his orders clutched in his hands, Dovina watching from the doorway. One evening he returned to find the eyes of a stranger looking back at him. Dovina’s words were soft, but the meaning behind them hurt. There was someone else, and though she hadn’t allowed him to openly court her, she was considering it. She loved Ark, but she needed time to think.

She left in the rain, wearing a long hooded cloak that dragged in the mud. Ark stood silent in the doorway and cursed under his breath as the carriage drove away. He wished he could drown himself in drink and forget the world, but even feeding on the blood of drunks only did so much. His vampire physiology metabolized it too quickly and left him sober through the decades that followed. When seventy years had passed and he couldn’t contain his curiosity any longer. He went looking and he found her.

The memory popped to the surface of his mind, sharp despite the eighty years since. Red roses climbed the side of the house, and laughter tinkled through the open windows. He couldn’t see them, but he could smell them: Dovina and her Eric-

She stiffened in surprise. “Why didn’t you tell me you were there?”

“What was the point? You’d obviously made your choice.”

Her eyes moved up and down his lean frame before she brushed his cheek with her fingers. His breath stuck in his throat and for a moment he couldn’t move.  “You made the choice for me. You were always gone.”

He caught her hand and pulled it away. “Then why didn’t you ask me to quit? One word from you and I’d have left it behind.” He searched the depths of her sea colored eyes, pushing past them into the thoughts beneath, looking for an explanation, but there were only mismatched memories. “Dovina?”

“You swore an oath to them, Ark. You wouldn’t break it lightly.”

“I swore one to you first, or did our wedding vows mean nothing to you?”

“They were the promises of youth, Ark. A vow you gave before you had a chance to contemplate the long fall of the years. When you pledged yourself to me did you imagine what a hundred years would really mean? Two hundred? Three hundred? The changes they would bring?”

“Is an oath any less valid because it lasts longer than you first imagined? Are feelings any less…” He trailed off and looked away.

She pulled her hand free. “It doesn’t matter. You can see the truth in me, just as I can see your orders in you. Can’t we part as friends this time?” He didn’t answer, and she pressed on. “Read the sentence.”

He knew he should, but he couldn’t force himself to do it. She gently pried the paper from his fingers and read aloud, “Dovina, fledgling of Constance, on this day, the twenty-first of April, 1972, based on testimony and evidence submitted to The Guild, you are found guilty of coven slaughter without just cause, and are hereby sentenced to death, to be carried out by Executioner at earliest availability.”

She handed the paper back to him. “See? That wasn’t so hard. Do you want me to sit over there, or should I just stand here or-”

He grabbed her up suddenly and captured her lips with his. She stiffened and then flowed against him. Her lips parted and soft sigh escaped as her tongue darted into his mouth. Though he clutched her as hard as he could, the kiss finally ended, and she lay her head on his chest. “Do you remember the party Monsieur Pelotte threw? Before you joined the Executioners?”

He thought of her again, leaning over the piano, toying with the keys, but his voice wouldn’t work.

“He had that violinist, from Boston. What was the song he played?” She started to hum, swaying to the tune. “Dance with me Ark. One more time.”

She slipped her arms around his neck and he reflexively wrapped his arms around her as she continued to move to the music in her head. “It’s been a long time, Ark. But if you close your eyes, doesn’t it almost feel like nothing has changed? As if all the things in between never happened.”

He buried his face against her neck and inhaled deeply.  Beneath the scent of her shampoo she smelled the same as she had on that long ago night. Her body was as soft and yielding as it had been, and her hair as silky. But he knew better. Though she might appear the same on the outside, the blessing of immortality, on the inside she had changed. She was still the cold stranger he’d come in the night to find, and the sameness was an imitation, like a moment from his youth he was trying to recapture and live over and over. “Time won’t let me forget.”

“No, I suppose it won’t.” She released him reluctantly and stepped back.  Tears trailed silently down her cheeks, like the rain on the windshield. They both knew what had to happen; what was supposed to happen. He would jam the dagger through her heart, twist it once or twice for good measure, and then perhaps cut it out just to be sure she was dead. The guards would log the time of the execution, dispose of the body, and head back to the citadel in Iowa where they’d file the paperwork. Meanwhile he’d be somewhere else, killing someone else.

They broke the Laws.

The balm that usually soothed his conscience tasted like poison and he wanted to spit it out. His mind raced as he tried to find a solution, a way out, but there was none. Malick had passed judgment himself. There was no way to appeal. There was nothing to do except run until there was nowhere left to run to. And then – and then the other Executioners would come. They’d bring an army of guards and no matter how good Ark thought he was, he knew he would die. Maybe he’d get lucky and they’d strike him down first, or maybe he’d have to watch as they hacked Dovina to pieces.

“It’s not the ending I want.” She gave him a sad smile and he wiped away her tears. “This will be quick but that…they’ll make us both suffer, Ark.” She reached into his pocket and pulled out the dagger. “Just be done with it.”

He jerked the weapon from her hand and fell back.

“You don’t understand. You asked what Eric did to deserve death, and I told you nothing because it’s true. I’m to blame. I was the one who refused to leave. That other coven wanted our territory. First they asked, then they pushed, and finally Eric pushed back. He didn’t want to but I-I talked him into it. We were here first. We had a right to be here. They were the ones who should leave. So he went to their den and confronted them, and that’s when they killed him. Don’t you see, Ark? I as much killed him as they did. Had I left him alone we would have moved on and he’d still be alive but I had too much pride. This was our house. Our land. Our hunting ground. Our-” She broke off and gave a mirthless laugh. “They screamed, Ark. They screamed when I killed them. They were young and cocky, but when the moment came they were all cowards.” Her spine snapped straight and she met his eyes. “I’m not a coward. I accept the punishment, so do it and be done.”

The dagger was like a lead weight in his hand, too heavy to draw and lift. And yet…

“You can hear their thoughts, too,” she whispered. “Those guards. One is on the phone right now, reporting to The Guild that you’ve dismissed them, that they don’t think you’ll go through with it. You know they have orders to kill you if you don’t.”

“Let them try. I’ll-”

She laid a finger to his lips. “In the end you’ll die, too, like Eric, a second casualty to my pride. How many should lose their lives because I was here first? Think of it as just another assignment, like all the others.” She met his eyes.  “You swore an oath to uphold the laws. I broke them. I was found guilty. Keep your honor.”

Honor. It was a cruel word for her to use, and she knew it. He wanted to rage at her, demand to know where her belief in his honor had been when she left in the rain, but there was no point. They could talk in circles, still the end would be the same. Just as the past could not be unwritten, neither could he future they’d created.

He unsheathed the dagger and held it up like a macabre offering. Light glinted from the cold steel with a finality that cut through him. Somewhere deep inside a voice screamed that there had to be another way, that Malick would make an exception, even though he knew he wouldn’t.

Not for me.

He closed his eyes as the dagger stabbed into her. The force of the blow knocked her backwards and he looked to see her stumble and fall. She landed on the floor. Her golden hair fanned out around her head like a medieval halo. The dagger protruded from her chest, and crimson surged up and around it to soak the thin material of her blouse.

She choked a mouthful of blood, then met his eyes for a final time. “I…always loved…you, Ark.”

He dove to pull the dagger free, to stop it before it was too late, but she grabbed the hilt and rammed it the rest of the way. Her body seized and shuddered, then fell still. He landed on his knees and cradled her against him. Her blood gushed warm and wet against him and he buried his face against her neck. Even now she still smelled just the same; just the same as she always had.

His mind flashed back to that night. He climbed off his horse and strode to the house to find her holding a letter in her hand. “The messenger brought you orders,” she whispered. “But you’ve just come back.”

He took the paper from her hands and pushed back a weary sigh. “I swore an oath, Dovina. I must see it through.”

He turned to go, and she made a small noise in her throat. “Ark, there’s…There’s a man. A vampire. His name is Eric. He’s asked to court me.”

“But you’re already married!”

“Am I?” He stared at her incredulously and she spoke again, her voice trembling, “I need some time.”

Anger rose sharp and bitter. “It seems you’ve already had enough, haven’t you? Constance warned me time would change you, but I didn’t believe her.”

The memory faded and he stared into Dovina’s glassy ocean colored eyes and for the first time he realized that it wasn’t Dovina who had turned into a stranger and deserted him. He was the one who’d gone from a gentle lovesick fool to a pitiless killer with a job to do. He was the one that had abandoned her in everything but word. He was the one who had changed.

And there was no going back.

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This version’s better than the one on my other blog, though it might still need a polish. I don’t know, maybe not.

Just a reminder, Legacy of Ghosts is still up for vote in the cover wars, so if you have a moment please stop in and cast your ballot. Thanks so much to everyone who’s done so already. you guys are awesome!

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Breaking the Silence by Jesse C. Rice-Jones

Today’s excerpts are from Breaking the Silence by Jesse C. Rice-Jones

 

For the curious this book is an in-your-face expose’ of actual events and activities not generally discussed in a public forum. For those prepared to embrace the mysterious it offers glimpses into the unknowable. As regards inspiration, the text implies that the search for inspiration is an individual journey that can not be universalized.

Too soon circumstances taught me that an imaginary father, no matter how idealized the image, can never be enough. Yet, that same positive image I had cherished made it possible for me to finally accept and even to love my father in all his frailty, body and soul. I thank my mother for not tarnishing my conception of my absent father. And by some harsh perhaps twisted logic, I must also thank my father. His absence allowed me to walk on the wild side. Brutal as that path has been, I like where it has taken me. And yes, I am still walking. So come now, walk with me awhile…

My mother, my sister Naomi, and I attended my father’s memorial service. There were many others–friends, patrons, gallery owners, and fellow artists. They had brought paintings and sculptures of his they’d collected over the years, as well as many words of love, admiration, and amusing anecdotes. Finally, my father’s best friend at the end of his moving eulogy pointed to my sister and me saying, “Peter, to his great loss, neglected to acknowledge his best work.”  All eyes turned to us. For a moment we became part of the exhibition of collectables. Most people in that room hadn’t seen or heard from Peter for years; most had no idea that he had children and that two of them were in their midst. My sister wept. I took her hand and we went out into the freshness of the surrounding May gardens. A crow was waiting for us.

You can get Breaking the Silence from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/421475

 

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hugggggJesse C. Rice-Jones is a native of Vancouver, Canada. He grew up without a television. Instead he mastered tree climbing and read The Lord of the Rings, Sherlock Holmes, The Little Prince, The Hardy Boys, Robin Hood, and Eric the Viking, among others, by the age of twelve. He has worked in the film industry and coached basketball to youths. He is currently working as a personal trainer. He is passionate about Martial Arts, music, coaching, and writing.

find out more at https://www.facebook.com/#!/BreakingTheSilence.JesseRiceJones


Tales from the Island #7: Chapter One of Children of Shadows

Katelina finally gets her beach vacation, but it’s not everything she dreamed. How could it be with the companions she’s got?

WARNING: Contains adult content

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Day 7:

Katelina leaned back in the beach chair. She could hear waves lapping the beach and the cry of some far off bird. Above her the moon hung in a thin crescent and uncountable stars twinkled. Farther down the beach a bonfire glowed throbbing orange. She could make out the silhouettes of the revelers around it, but it wasn’t worthy of a vacation snapshot. That was why she’d left the disposable camera in her room.

To her left Jorick reclined in a chair, his long dark hair pulled up in a sloppy bun. Even on the beach he wore his usual black pullover and slacks. Like a cartoon character, he refused to try different clothes. He swore that after centuries he’d settled on the perfect ensemble.

“Enjoying yourself?” Amusement glittered in his dark eyes.

She forced a smile. “Of course.”

His reply was the fanged grin of a vampire. “I’m glad. You’ve wanted to come to the beach for months.”

She made a noncommittal sound. Though her boyfriend and his associates were vampires, she had still imagined her beach vacation dappled in sunlight. Three a.m. on a nearly deserted island wasn’t what she’d had in mind. Where was the sunscreen? Where were the cabana boys? Where was the beach fun?

Jorick chuckled. “You chose the wrong traveling companions for that.”

Mind reading – one of his vampire abilities. “Remember when you respected me enough not to do that?”

“It’s not a matter of respect, it’s just easier sometimes. Besides, you think loudly.”

“So you say. You used to worry I’d get mad.”

“Yes.” He grinned. “I think we’re past that now. Isn’t it more important to save time?”

Her only reply was a sigh.

A figure abandoned the fire and headed toward them. Katelina scowled at his ridiculous crayon colored red hair and the expanse of pale, naked flesh. His speedo trunks left little to the imagination—not that she wanted to imagine it.

“Of course you do!” Verchiel chirped as he stopped next to her chair, a reply to her thoughts. As if she needed another mind reader. “Are you gloomy gusses going to sit here, or come join the fun?”

Katelina snorted. “Why? It’s only you, Micah, and Loren hanging around the bonfire acting macho.”

“You forgot Torina,” Jorick said with amusement.

“Of course, the reason they’re acting like macho idiots.” Her eyes strayed toward the fire and the silhouette of a curvaceous vampiress. Her long red hair fell around her shoulders in salon perfect waves and her emerald bikini looked like it was made for her. Torina was enough to make a supermodel feel inadequate. How could Katelina, an average human with an average figure, compare?

Jorick caught her hand and squeezed it. “It isn’t a competition.”

“We could have one,” Verchiel suggested with a broad grin. “We could start with the two of you in bikinis, add some pudding, and see who comes out on top.”

Katelina tried to smack him, but the redhead seemed to evaporate and reappeared a few feet away. Super speed; another of his abilities. “Aw, come on. It could be fun! No? All right, but don’t say we didn’t offer.” Then he disappeared and reappeared near the fire a moment later.

She turned to Jorick, expecting a customary burst of outrage, but he grinned. “He might be on to something. I imagine you’d look fetching in nothing but pudding.”

Before Katelina could express her opinion, another vampire drew near, dressed in a button up shirt, jeans, and boots. It wasn’t just his tawny hair and amber eyes that made Katelina think of a lion. There was something in the way he moved, a sort of fluid, feline gait that said he was waiting to spring. It was Jorick’s fledgling.

“Oren!” Jorick called. “Come to join us?”

“Hardly.” He cast an unhappy look over them. “Is this necessary?”

“You don’t approve of a vacation?” Jorick asked.

Oren drew a tight breath. “I’m not saying one doesn’t deserve a rest, but is now the time?”

“Why not?” Jorick’s eyes skipped to the dark ocean. “Both your war and exile are over.”

Oren gave a contemptuous snort. “Have you forgotten I attacked The Guild’s citadel?”

“They already doled out the punishment in your absence.” During the battle, Jorick had incapacitated his fledgling and hidden him in a supply closet, leaving Oren’s brother-in-law to be executed in his place. “If you ask me, it isn’t a bad thing to be rid of Fabian.”

Oren opened his mouth, then closed it, as if he couldn’t argue. Fabian had been an annoying, bitter vampire. Since The Guild had put him to death for leading a war against them, Oren’s lust for battle had grown cold, as though it had been Fabian pushing all along. And it probably was. Even Torina, Oren’s hot blooded sister, had seen the pointlessness of attacking the American vampires’ capitol.

“Fine,” Oren said. “What about Malick?”

Katelina cringed at the name and Jorick said, “He’s the True Council’s problem.”

It was the answer she’d expected. Malick was Jorick’s master; the vampire who’d given him immortality, and then manipulated him for years after. Jorick would always have a strange mixture of loyalty and well-deserved hatred for him.

“What about Samael?” Oren asked impatiently.

Jorick waved the question away, like smoke that threatened to obscure his vision of peace, but Katelina didn’t feel so casual. Behind her eyes she could still picture Samael, naked except for his flowing hair. They’d expected to find Lilith, the supposed mother of all vampires, asleep in the mountain temple, instead they’d gotten him.

“Will the True Council take care of him?” Oren asked sarcastically. “We woke him, Jorick.”

Jorick’s good humor slipped from his face. “No we didn’t. I know the idea was to wake Lilith and use her to destroy Malick, but it obviously doesn’t work that way. Sorino woke Samael, and couldn’t control him. It seems the legends were wrong.”

“Maybe,” Katelina muttered, then spoke louder. “There were things written on the wall in the temple. Sorino said ‘We will do as the inscriptions say’, so they must have told the truth.” The scene in the dark room came back to her. She could hear the screams of the battle raging upstairs; Jorick and the others fighting Malick’s henchmen. She could see Sorino’s satisfied smile as he forced her to take out the legendary Heart of the Raven.

Without thought she murmured, “He said, ‘It’s the heart of Naamah, one of Samael’s wives, and it is necessary to the resurrection’” She shook the memories away. “Obviously that was written on the wall, because until then he thought it was Lilith’s.”

“Only he can read the inscription,” Jorick said gently. “Sorino ‘s gone, but if he wasn’t, do you think he’d tell the truth?”

No, she didn’t believe Sorino would tell them, unless it benefited him. Though they’d parted politely, there was an understanding that they weren’t friends.

Jorick smiled and some of his lost amusement returned. “It doesn’t matter, little one. Things will sort themselves out. In the meantime, you’ve finally got your beach vacation, so enjoy it.”

She absently rubbed her wrist. Samael had bitten her and left it a gaping, bleeding mess. Though she had no memory of it, she knew he’d healed her with his blood before he disappeared. But why? Was it like Jorick and Verchiel had suggested? Had Samael ‘tinkered’ with her mind? Verchiel had called it a kill switch. The thought left her shivering.

Jorick’s attention was still on Oren. “—we have to go to Munich and then—”

She jolted at the implications. “You’re taking Oren to the vampire capitol of the world?”

“As I said, the guilds have bigger things to worry about than a vampire who, if you’ll pardon me, is relatively new and powerless in their estimation.”

Oren’s jaw tightened. He stiffly excused himself and trekked back across the beach.

“You hurt his feelings,” Katelina said.

Jorick shrugged. “It’s true. The Kugsankal—The True Council—is thousands of years old. Malick is nearly three and they’re older than he is. To them Oren and his attempted uprising would be a trifle eclipsed by Malick and Samael. I doubt they’ll even notice he’s there.”

“I hope you’re right.”

The night was growing late when Katelina and Jorick headed back to the beach house. The two-story building and its partner were like Bugs Bunny island huts on steroids, made of what appeared to be unfinished wood and roofed in something that looked like grass. She expected to see dark skinned natives in grass skirts and the odd cannibal hiding in the jungle. Instead there were manicured lawns and a handful of English speaking staff. So much for cartoon reality.

Katelina stopped in the kitchen where a friendly woman made her a fizzy pink drink, then she joined Jorick in the living room. Between the futons and scattered tables, an antique map hung on the wall. Islands were scattered across the face of the ocean like freckles and labeled in foreign characters.

“Which one are we on?”

He shrugged. “It’s hard to tell if it’s accurate, or just decor.” He held out a piece of paper. “This was on the table.”

The note scrawled inside said simply:

We must leave tomorrow.

Wolfe.

 

She scowled. “He’s ordering us around like he captured us.”

“Only in his imagination. Nevertheless, he’s right.”

Katelina wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the island paradise. Leaving meant returning to cold places and even colder attitudes. “Do we have to?”

“Yes. We need to go to Munich and report so we can go home.”

Home. It was a shadowy word that conjured different places: a lonely house in Maine, a neon green monstrosity where her mother lived, and a small apartment buried deep underground in the vampires’ American Citadel. She suspected the last option was the home he referred to.

He slipped an arm around her and pulled her to him. “Cheer up, little one. We still have tonight.”

“In that case, I need another drink.”

Jorick led her up the winding wooden stairs and down the hall to their bedroom. A large cotton clothed bed stood in the middle with a headboard of driftwood and gauzy curtains that mimicked mosquito nets. A bench below the picture window held their suitcases and a selection of puffy throw pillows. The view beyond was magnificent, though to Katelina’s mortal eyes most of the details were lost in darkness.

Jorick pulled her back against him. His lips tickled her ear as he whispered, “Should I describe it for you?”

Goosebumps raced up and down her back and she giggled. The fruity drinks had left the world wobbly. “It’s a lot of palm trees and some creepy bugs hiding in the leaves.”

“That hardly does it justice.” He kissed the lobe of her ear and then moved lower to nuzzle her neck. “Yes, there are palm trees, majestic palm trees whose trunks stand proud and tall, gently curving—” he broke off to lift her hair and kiss his way up the back of her neck. “—up to the magnificent cluster of emerald green fronds—” He ran his fingers through her golden tresses, letting the strands fall back around her shoulders. “—that dance in the breeze.” He tightened his arms around her and swayed as if they, too, were dancing.

“What about the bugs?” She laughed and tipped her head back until she could see his eyes, so dark they were almost black. She let herself drown in the heady warmth, wrapped in a sensual softness that left her breathless.

“Bugs?” He slipped the straps of her bathing suit over her shoulders and peeled the garment down until she was naked. Then he brought her hand to his lips, tracing kisses over her fingers. “The graceful palms shelter many things.” He trailed his lips over her wrist and down to her elbow, and then across the back of her arm to her naked shoulder.

She gave a soft murmur of pleasure that ended in another giggle. “Such as?”

“Oh, there are insects, of course, diamond eyed creatures—” He kissed his way across her back to her other shoulder and then moved slowly down her arm. “—whose wings sparkle incandescent in the light and shine with colors like mother of pearl. Barely more than gauze, they’re delicately stretched over a fragile framework that lets them glide—” He paused to spin her around so that she faced him. His eyes ran over her nakedness and then he moved in closer and kissed her forehead and her cheeks. “—glide from the uppermost reaches of those palms, down—” He moved to her neck and then to her shoulders. “—down until they reach—” He cupped her breasts and kissed their rosy peaks. “—the smooth stones.”

She threw back her head and laughed. “Stones? Really?”

He laughed with her, and then squeezed the fleshy mounds, gently massaging and teasing her hard nipples with his thumbs. “You underestimate their importance.”

She murmured her enjoyment and managed to say, “But stones aren’t pretty.”

“Says who? Each one is unique, shaped by the hand of Mother Nature herself, kissed by the rain—” He rained kisses over them. “—rounded and smoothed by the elements and the pounding surf. With delicate colors and subtle highlights; shades of white and pink and blue.” He broke off to take first one and then the other in his mouth. She moaned softly and he released them. “But we can’t stay among the peaks and valleys forever, we must glide down—” he paused to kiss his way over her ribs and down her stomach, until he was on his knees before her. “—down to the mossy—” He stopped to tease the thatch of golden curls before he opened her legs enough to allow his lips past. “—moist ground below.”

She let out a long, low moan and clutched his head, opening herself and pressing him deeper into the soft folds of her flesh. Her fingers tangled in his long, midnight hair and she floated on a bubble of intoxication and pleasure as his hot tongue stroked her delicate center.

Her legs trembled as he moved his kisses to her inner thighs. His tongue teased her soft skin and then, he bit.

She gave a cry of surprise and pain, but it faded away and left her in the red-tinted, pleasure-soaked world of the vampire bite. It was a connection that could to take their prey to hell or to heaven. And heaven was where he took her. He was inside and outside her; everywhere at once, pulsing, touching, stroking, caressing. She could feel both his desire and his satisfaction coursing through her veins, igniting her passion. As the sensations became more intense, things flashed behind her eyelids; pictures too fast for her to see and words too soft for her to understand. As always she felt the desire to catch them, to see, to know, as if some ancient secret was buried in them. She groaned loudly, urging him on, her instincts screaming for more; more contact, more pleasure, more blood.

Without conscious thought she pulled away from him and he let her go. She stumbled back, dizzy with euphoria and alcohol, and fell to her knees. He moved to her quickly and caught her in his arms, concern burning beneath the lust in his eyes. “Are you all right?”

She gripped the collar of his pullover. Her voice sounded husky and foreign in her ears. “I will be.”

She tore his shirt, pinned him to the floor, and bit into his chest. He gave a cry of surprise, and no doubt pain as her dull teeth pierced the skin. His hot, spicy blood filled her mouth, but it didn’t satisfy her thirst, only intensified it.

He rolled with her, so that he was on top. She struggled briefly as he shifted to remove his pants and slide himself between her thighs. Her legs opened readily for him, and she thrust with her hips, encouraging him, even as her open mouth sought the bleeding wound. He thrust into her at the same moment that she clamped on, and her body arched with a cry of delight. Lost in a crimson tinted world, she didn’t even notice when he bit into her shoulder.

Moments crashed over one another in a carnal cascade of ecstasy. The sounds and images returned, closer than before and, just as it seemed she might understand, her body rocked with the climax of release and she cried out, severing the connection.

The world slowly came into focus; the ceiling with exposed rafters, the bench, the soft white rug under her back. Next to her lay Jorick with his shirt torn open, panting and rubbing at a smear of crimson on his chest.

She licked her lips and tasted blood. She’d bitten him. Again. She was momentarily horrified and wiped her mouth, as if it could hide what she’d done.

“I’ve told you it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

“You say that but…” she turned away and stared at the curtained bed. “When that happens it’s like I’m someone else, and then I come back to myself and have to deal with the consequences.”

He pulled her to him. She resisted for a moment, but his soothing hands coaxed her surrender and she relaxed against him. “Isn’t all lust that way?” he asked teasingly. “Is it really that you become someone else, or that you’re finally free enough to be yourself?”

Her cheeks flushed and she sucked her bottom lip. It still tasted like him. “You’re saying I’m blood thirsty?”

He nuzzled her neck, and licked the bite he’d made, as if sweeping away the last of the crimson evidence. “More like a wanton pleasure seeker.” He laughed and held up the shirt she’d torn as proof. “There’s nothing wrong with that, given the right circumstances.”

She met his gaze and teased him back, “What would the wrong circumstances be?”

His dark eyes grew darker, and his voice lost its humor. “If it’s with the wrong vampire.”

She looked away as a memory popped to the surface. A starving creature skulked in the corner of the prison cell, little more than skin and bones and matted red hair. It stared at her with hungry eyes, and then it struck. She fought at first, and then… and then the world fell away and she’d come crashing back with blood on her lips to find Jorick snarling and trying to murder Verchiel.

“It wasn’t like that,” she said sharply, as if Jorick had forced the memory on her. “Malick—”

“Yes. I know. Malick manipulated you and then sicked the poor, starving clown on you and you bit him back in self-defense or—” he broke off. “It doesn’t matter.”

She rubbed absently at the scar Verchiel had left. “It obviously does. To you. He apologized a long time ago and already said he was starving and didn’t realize who I was.”

“I’m sure,” Jorick muttered darkly.

She pushed on, “Malick only arranged it to punish you for not following orders.”

Malick. The master hung over them like a dark shadow that tainted everything.

Jorick sighed deeply and pulled her closer. “Nothing is tainted, not you or me or this.” He motioned with a hand to indicate the two of them. “I love you.”

She buried the side of her face against his chest and inhaled his deep, musky scent. “I love you, too.”

He pressed a kiss to the top of her head and then swept to his feet. “Come, little one. I may be used to sleeping in strange places, but even I won’t forsake a bed for the floor.”

It was an hour later when Katelina slipped from the bed and tiptoed out of the bedroom in search of a bathroom. It wouldn’t be long before the sun was up. The sky outside already had a thin, colorless quality along the horizon. Soon all the protective plates would be over the windows to block the burning sunlight and shield the house’s occupants. She could already see some of the island’s employees struggling to put them in place.

When she was finished, she slipped through another door to a broad balcony. The last of the night breezes blew her long hair back from her face and tried to tell her stories of others who’d stood on the sandy beaches and bathed in the surf.

She surveyed the lush lawn below and traced the line of palm trees that marched down to the beach. The whole place was almost too perfect.

“That’s why it’s expensive,” a voice volunteered from the shadows. Katelina turned to see Verchiel step out onto the balcony wearing a pair of flannel pajama pants that sagged too low for her comfort. His ridiculous red hair was wet and the faint smell of soap wafted from him. She looked away quickly from his naked chest, something she’d seen far too much of on the beach in the last week.

After the earlier conversation, he was the last vampire she wanted to see, as if his presence made Jorick’s complaint more credible. Regardless, Verchiel leaned on the railing next to her. He scanned the beach scene and something strange passed across his face. What could ruffle his affable veneer?

“What?”

“It seems… I don’t know. Maybe I’ve been here before.” He shrugged and stepped back, his usual smile on his face. He nodded toward the humans hurriedly fastening up the last of the metal plates. “The sun will be up soon. Since I don’t fancy a third degree sunburn I’ll leave you to it.”

He started for the door and Katelina asked absently, “Don’t you miss the sunrise?”

“Nah. I’ve already told you I don’t remember anything from before Kateesha turned me, including the sun. Besides, I have a snazzy tropical sunrise calendar in my apartment at the Citadel, so I can see one every day if I want.” He gave her a wink. “Speaking of pictures, you might catch the sunrise for your photo collection, but don’t stay out too late or Jorick will worry.”

And then he disappeared.

Get your copy of Children of Shadows today from these fine retailers:   Barnes & Noble , Apple iTunes, Smashwords, Create Space (paperback), Amazon, Kobo

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Children of Shadows Blog Tour

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The release of Children of Shadows is drawing closer and so is the start of the blog tour!

What’s a blog tour? It’s where bloggers are kind enough to host me on their blog for the day. There might me an interview, an excerpt of the book, a guest post, a character interview, or something all together strange. And what blog tour would be complete without a giveaway? Enter at each blog for a chance to win one of three prize sets:

1st prize: Amaranthine t-shirt (size is winner’s choice), set of bookmarks, and $20 gift card for Barnes and Noble or Amazon (winner’s choice).

2nd prize: Amaranthine t-shirt (size is winner’s choice), bookmark set

3rd prize: The last Executioner trading card set

  1. March 15: I Smell Sheep – Movie Night Party
  2. March 16: Wicca Witch 4 Book Blog – Review
  3. March 16Lariats and Lavender – Vampire Fashion
  4. March 17: Authors to Watch – Excerpt
  5. March 18: Jissilly’s Amazing Blog – Vampire Humor
  6. March 19: Dawn Colclasure’s Blog – Author Interview and Excerpt
  7. March 21:  You Gotta Read – Author Interview
  8. March 22: DMYates Believe in Yourself – Book Review
  9. March 23: Stephannie Beman – Excerpt
  10. March 23Midnight Musings with Bertena – Why Vampires Prefer Human Blood
  11. March 24: Emily Guido – Interview with Verchiel
  12. March 25Paranormal & Romance author Juli D. Revezzo – Author Interview
  13. March 26Sandra Ulbrich Almazan – Excerpt
  14. March 27: Taking Time for Mommy – Excerpt
  15. March 28Top Shelf Books – The Woes of the Pantster
  16. March 29: The Open Vein – 5 Questions
  17. March 30: Creative Barbed Wire – A Conversation with Jorick
  18. March 31: Suddenly They All Died – Writing Paranormal
  19. April 1Choose Your Own Erotic Adventures – Character Interview
  20. April 2: Donna Augustine – Character Interview
  21. April 3: The Thursday Interview – Author Interview
  22. April 4: Author Amy McGuire’s Blog – Night Photography
  23. April 5: Musings: Jay Faulkner – Book Blast

Hope to see you there!

P.S. Don’t forget to grab your copy of Children of Shadows! signature for white

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Winner is responsible for providing a mailing address for the prizes and/or an email address for the gift card. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Joleene Naylor. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Joleene (at) joleenenaylor (dot) com

Tales from the Island #6: Verchiel

Katelina finally gets her beach vacation, but it’s not everything she dreamed. How could it be with the companions she’s got? Strap in for a collection of six short stories about surf, sun, and… um… I mean surf, moonlight and vampires.

VERCHIEL

Day 6:

Verchiel leaned back in the hot tub and peered over his sunglasses. The accessories were pointless at night, but he was determined to embrace everything about the island getaway. Just because he was a vampire didn’t mean he should have to miss out.

A broad shouldered vampire with long, black hair strolled past, a blonde human female on his arm. Verchiel grinned and waved. “Hey, Jorick! Kately! Check it out!”

Jorick turned and gave Verchiel a cold once over, and Katelina said, “It’s a hot tub. We’ve seen it the last five days we were here.”

“Yeah, but you haven’t been in it!” He reached for the control panel and turned on the jets. “Look at this!” he shouted over the noise. “I’m almost floating away!”

“We could only hope,” Jorick  said.

Verchiel switched the jets off. “That’s not very nice. Here I am, inviting you to join me for some relaxing socializing, and I get rude comments. I don’t know.”

“You’re not inviting us to be nice,” Katelina said with a roll of her eyes. “You’re just doing it to be aggravating.”

He clutched his chest. “I’m hurt at your harsh words! You wound me! That you would take my good intentions and twist them so…” he trailed off and then grinned. “Ah, come on. It’s not like you’re doing anything else.”

“Jorick isn’t dressed for it,” Katelina said, pointing to the vampire’s dark slacks and long sleeved black pullover. Verchiel thought he detected a hint of aggravation. Though the human wore a floppy shirt, underneath was a swimsuit. At least she was ready for the beach.

“He can sit on the sidelines,” Verchiel suggested innocently. “Three of us in here would be crowded anyway. I know! Even better! He could jog back to the house and wallow in his gloom and emo outfits, and you and I could have some much needed alone time.”

Jorick gave a long, low growl and started forward, but Katelina pulled him back. “We’re supposed to be on vacation. That means vacation from trying to kill idiots.”

Jorick snorted and then led her away, casting a threatening look back. Verchiel waved in reply, and then settled down into the warm water. At least he’d tried.

He adjusted his sunglasses and tried to slide down until he could kick his feet up on the edge. He was too short, and ended up with his head under the water. His sunglasses floated away and he lay there for a moment, looking through the liquid veil at the night sky. He could see the edge of one of the island mansions, hulking and crowned in dry palm leaves, like a transformed island hut.

Minutes ticked by and he finally got bored and popped to the surface, his bright red hair streaming. He wiped water from his eyes and peered at the expanse of swaying palms to his right. He could sense someone, though he couldn’t smell them. He leaned over the edge of the tub and inhaled deeply. The scent of grass and leaves, damp earth, fungus, sand, and sea mixed together in an overwhelming cacophony. Underneath it, he found the thread of a fragrance. Immortal and tinted with fresh blood and expensive perfume. It was Torina.

Verchiel snatched his sunglasses and propped them on his head, then plastered a casual smile across his face as she stepped out of the vegetation. Her long red hair fell around her shoulders, and an emerald green bikini clung to her curvy body. Her naked skin gleamed creamy and porcelain in the yard lights.

She paused and flicked her green eyes over him. Verchiel nodded, and pressed on the edges of her mind. He could see the bald crest of the hill and a human male. He didn’t need to go any further to figure the rest out.

“Well hello there,” he said cheerfully. “And where have you been?”

She crossed her arms over her ample breasts. “Walking. I can guess where you’ve been.”

“Right here,” he answered. “Best seat on the island.”

She cocked an eyebrow. “It looks lonely.”

“Why don’t you join me and change that?” He flashed her a fanged grin.

She rolled her eyes. “Sorry, I got trapped by Loren and Micah earlier. I’ve had my quota of moron for the day.”

“Then isn’t it lucky I’m not a moron?”

She gave him a condescending look. “If you say so.” She started towards the beach and then turned back. “I don’t suppose you know where my brother is?”

“He’s on the patio, I think.” Verchiel jerked his thumb towards the backside of the second island house. “He’s spending some quality time with his human.”

Torina drew herself up. “She is not his human! She’s just a mortal leech who’s attached herself to him. He’ll scrape her off soon.”

“I wouldn’t count on that. They both seem pretty comfortable with the arrangement.”

“No he isn’t.”

Verchiel made a point to yawn. “Then why hasn’t he sent her packing yet? I don’t know about Oren, but I wouldn’t voluntarily spend my first vacation in three centuries being harassed by a human I couldn’t stand. I think he likes her company.”

“No, he doesn’t,” Torina said icily.

“Why? What’s not to like? She doesn’t chatter, doesn’t ask questions, and doesn’t make demands. She sits quietly, and when he wants anything she runs and fetches it. She’s like an admiring personal servant.”

“She’s annoying,” Torina snapped. “At least Jorick’s stupid human doesn’t worship the ground he walks on. If he ever gets around to making her a vampire she might not be too bad. That Japanese woman that hangs on Oren…” she trailed off and shook her head. “She’s worse than a dishcloth.”

“Then maybe you should befriend her and teach her to be independent?”

Torina scoffed. “I don’t need any friends.”

“Everyone needs friends. Why don’t you start with me? I’m feeling particularly friendly today.” He waggled his eyebrows.

“Oh grow up.” She turned away and then paused again. “I imagine you know where Jorick and his pet are?”

“On the beach, I think. Micah and Loren are down there, too, and Wolfe and Sadihra snuck off for some private time. I’m afraid I rather ruined it the last time they tried.”

“You have a way of doing that,” Torina said, and headed towards the beach.

“So much abuse!” he called after her. “I know you only use the cold words to mask your true feelings!” He could feel it for a moment; a flutter in her mind as she contemplated coming back to tell him off, but then the impulse disappeared and she moved out of range.

“That was fun, wasn’t it?” he said to no one. The chirping bugs were his only reply, and he dropped his sunglasses down again. “It’s a shame we didn’t go to Hawaii. At least there are hula girls there.”

He held up his hands and wiggled his wrinkly fingers. That was something that vampirism didn’t cure, though he wasn’t sure why. If he’d had a laptop or his phone handy he’d have looked it up, but it wasn’t worth a lot of effort for a casual curiosity. Besides, he doubted there was much of a cell signal.

He climbed out and toweled off, then wandered into the house for a snack. A polite Asian lady poured him a glass of blood and bowed a lot. He gave her a good come hither look, which she ignored, and with a shrug he wandered outside to the patio.

Just as he’d thought, Oren sat in a chair, his nose stuck in a book. Etsuko was behind him, working furiously on her needlework. Verchiel tilted his head this way and that, admiring the subtle pattern.

“What are you making?”

Oren looked up sharply, as if he’d been unaware of Verchiel’s presence, but Etsuko calmly replied, “I had thought to make a kimono for Oren-sama, if he does not object.”

The blonde vampire cleared his throat uncomfortably, and looked quickly back to his book.

“I think that’s a great idea,” Verchiel said. “I bet he’ll look great in it.”

Etsuko nodded, but Verchiel noticed the blush that stole over her cheeks. The woman had it bad.

Oren shifted uncomfortably, and though he stared at the pages, Verchiel didn’t think he was reading anymore.

“You should make him a whole fleet of them,” the redhead suggested with a grin. “He could have one for every day of the week.”

“Does Verchiel-sama not think that would be excessive?” Etsuko asked with genuine concern, and Verchiel bit back a laugh.

“He’s only teasing you,” Oren muttered.

“Oh!” Etsuko blinked uncertainly, then recovered. “I see.”

“You should relax,” Verchiel told her and dropped into the nearest empty chair. “You and gloomy Gus both.”

“Excuse me?” Oren snapped.

“Oh come on! We’re in a tropical paradise and you’re sitting by the house, reading a book, wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt. You even have boots on! Boots! This is the kind of place where you chill and let it all hang out.” He motioned to his own speedo.

Oren’s voice and expression were cold. “Hardly. You’d do well to wear more. None of us want to look at you without clothes.”

“I have clothes! I’m wearing just as much as your sister.”

Oren’s frown deepened. “Yes, I know. As if it would hurt her to wear something.”

“It’s the beach!” Verchiel reminded him. “Bikinis should be mandatory for all the ladies.” He gave Etsuko a wink that turned her cheeks pinker.

Oren looked horrified and his eyes skipped away. Verchiel saw the shimmer of a thought in his head; a vision of Etsuko in a tiny red two piece. He snickered to himself. At least Oren wasn’t as dead as he liked to appear.

“I think everyone could do with more clothing,” Oren snapped. “And I could do with more silence. Don’t you have someone else to annoy?”

Verchiel kicked back in the chair, hands behind his head, and feigned innocence. “I had thought about checking up on Kately and grumpy boots, but he seemed so hostile the last time I saw him.”

“Do you blame him?” Oren asked. “He knows what you’re up to.”

“I’m not up to anything. “ He mimed hurt. “Why do all of you have such a low opinion of me?”

“Because you give us such cause to.”

He didn’t bother to ask how, only sighed dramatically. “It’s sad. I try so hard and yet I’m still rejected.”

“Rejected?” Oren blinked. “What are you blathering about?”

“I try to be your friend. I try to come and say, ‘hey, how’s it going? Let’s hang out,’ and all I get is told to go away.”

“Then perhaps you should try to be less annoying?”

Verchiel threw a hand to his head. “I try. Oh, I try. But it seems no matter what I do, no matter how acquiescing I am, someone is offended. Someone is mad. Someone is impatient.”

Oren cleared his throat and drew away from the display. “Yes, well, try harder then.”

“You say to try, but how? How am I to try? How am I to please everyone?”

Oren choked. “I-I don’t…” A sudden idea seemed to strike him. “You could leave Jorick’s human alone for starters.”

Verchiel sat up straight, grinning. “You mean Kately? Ah, I wouldn’t want to abandon my buddy, now, would I?  Can I help it if Jorick’s over sensitive and thinks I’m trying to steal her away? I mean I could, if I wanted to. Who could resist this?” He motioned to his lithe, toned physique.

“I imagine any number of women could,” Oren said dryly. “And perhaps Jorick wouldn’t be oversensitive if you weren’t always trying to get her alone.”

“Is that what it looks like? How interesting.” Verchiel tapped his chin thoughtfully.

“Of course it does. Are you completely stupid? On top of that you drank from her.”

“I was starving,” Verchiel interjected.

“Of course you were. And you had no control.” Oren’s tone was sarcasm. “We’ve all been starving before.”

“Then you should be sympathetic.”

“That wasn’t my point.” Oren’s eyes flashed and he met Verchiel’s gaze and held it. “Vampires caught in a bloodlust may feed on anything they can get their hands on, but that doesn’t mean that they enjoy it as much as you did.”

“I have no idea what you’re implying.” He smiled sweetly. “Perhaps you could elaborate?”

Oren growled. “We both know you-” he broke off, as if he just remembered Etsuko was there. “You know,” he finished stiffly. “Enough. I have better things to do.” He made a point of turning his angry attention to his book.

“Is the story really that interesting?” Oren didn’t answer and Verchiel sighed. “I think it’s lovely that you defend Jorick and Kately. It shows real loyalty, especially since you hate her so.”

“I never said I hated her,” Oren snapped. “I’m starting to feel that way about you, though.”

Verchiel ignored the slight. “Really? She thinks you hate her, and given the way you’re always talking down to her, or complaining about ‘the human’ being in the way, I don’t blame her. I’d start to think that too.”

“I don’t complain about her being in the way! Except when she is. Which happens quite frequently.” He broke off, frustrated. “Jorick would be easier to handle if she wasn’t in the middle of things.”

“You mean easier to talk into things, like joining wars?” Verchiel suggested. “You’re done with those now, though.”

“Whether I am or not has nothing to do with this conversation!” He growled and then looked back to the book. “Never mind. I’m finished speaking to you.”

Verchiel shrugged and stood. “Suit yourself. I’m just saying that you might try being nicer is all.”

Oren snarled, and Verchiel waved to Etsuko and then wandered down to the beach. He made to put his hands in his pockets, but without pockets the gesture fell to nothing.

“Maybe he’s right about the clothes. Or else they should just put pockets on these.”

The second idea was better, and he contemplated how hard it would be to add them. He supposed he’d have to find some spandex – that was what they were made out of, wasn’t it? Though spandex was probably hard to sew, and his skills were basic. Maybe he could get Etsuko to do it for him?

“Speedos with pockets. We could make a mint.”

“Who the hell are you talking to?”

Verchiel looked up to see Micah, a bald vampire with a goatee and lots of tattoos. Near him was Loren, a raven haired teen, clutching a pile of seashells to him with one arm.

“Well hello there! And what are you two up to.” He nodded to the teen’s  treasures. “That’s a lot of shells!”

“Yeah,” Loren said hesitantly. Enthusiasm slowly crept over his face. “There’s some really good ones in here. I found most of them in the ocean, but a few of them were on the beach. Micah even found a couple.”

“You managed to get the big lug out of a beach chair?” Verchiel asked.

Loren laughed. “I know, right?”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Micah eyed the redhead. “You tryin’ to start somethin’?”

“Oh, lighten up.” Loren rolled his eyes. “He’s right, you’ve hardly done anything but sit in that chair and smoke.”

“So what’s wrong with that? This is supposed to be a goddamn vacation. We’re supposed to be relaxing, not fucking running around all the damn time. When you’re on a vacation you’re supposed to do shit that you like, and that’s what I like.” He rounded on Verchiel. “You got a problem with that, Executioner?”

“Hey, hey, I’m not judging. What you want to do in your personal time is your business. I’m just surprised that your buddy there doesn’t mind spending so much time swimming by himself.”

“He likes swimming by himself. Don’t you?”

“Uh,” Loren tightened his hold on the shells. “I dunno. It might be kind of nice if you’d give it just a tiny try.”

“Are you fucking serious? Look, that ocean it’s… it’s fucking…” He broke off and Verchiel felt his fear, like a dark pulse. “It’s fucking deep.”

“Of course it’s deep! It’s the ocean!” Loren rolled his eyes. “You could just go wading at the edge if you’re too scared to go in all the way.”

“I’m not scared!”

“Really?” Verchiel asked. “That’s not the impression I got, since you won’t even go near it. But of course, you probably have another reason for your behavior, right?”

“What fucking behavior?” Micah roared. “I just don’t fucking like water, a’ight? You got a problem with that?”

“No, no. Nothing wrong with being afraid. It’s a brave man who admits to it.”

Loren snickered and Micah snarled. “What the fuck? I’m not – fuck this. Come on pipsqueak. We’ll ditch those damn things in the house and have some lunch.”

Loren nodded and they moved around Verchiel and up the slope towards the house. Their voices floated back to him and he could hear the bald vampire muttering, “I’ll show that Executioner dog that I’m not fucking scared. You wait, after lunch.”

“I can show you how to swim,” Loren said enthusiastically.

“Hey, hold your fucking horses. I said I’d stick my feet in it, I didn’t say I was gonna get submerged.”

Loren nodded, then glanced back to Verchiel. He might have waved had he had a second hand to do it with. It was a shame that he’d lost his left arm during the fight at The Guild, but he should be glad he hadn’t lost more than that.

Verchiel shrugged it off and continued to the beach. Jorick and Katelina were nowhere to be seen, but he noted that Wolfe and Sadihra were seated on a rock, his arm around her and her head on his shoulder. He thought about interrupting them, but a quick scan left him with the impression that they’d worked things out for now.

With nothing else to do, he headed down to the water and waded in until he was deep enough to swim. After a few strokes he rolled over on his back, hands behind his head, and floated. Voices came to him, and he looked to see Jorick and Katelina locked in an argument.

With a grin he started for the shore. As Micah had said, a vacation was for doing what you thought was fun, and what could be more fun than interfering with everyone? They were all the better for it when he was finished, so they should be grateful. Maybe he should start charging them, like Dr. Phil or whatever the new psychiatric flavor of the week was.

As screwed up as they all were, he could make a mint.

This is the last Tales from the Island, next week look for Day 7, otherwise known as chapter one of book 6: Children of Shadows.  You can still pre-order it at Barnes & Noble & Apple iTunes, and be sure to join the release party fun on facebook!

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Tales from the Island #5: Loren

Katelina finally gets her beach vacation, but it’s not everything she dreamed. How could it be with the companions she’s got? Strap in for a collection of six short stories about surf, sun, and… um… I mean surf, moonlight and vampires.

LOREN

Day 5:

Loren scaled the beach, a giant shell in his hand. It was one of a dozen treasures he’d dredged up from the bottom of the cove in the last hour. Like a hopeful puppy, he slid to a stop at the foot of Micah’s beach chair and thrust the shell in the bald vampire’s face. “Look at this.”

Micah flinched back and wiped droplets of sea water off his nose. “Yeah, I see it.” Loren waited a second and he added, “Nice one.”

Loren deposited it in the chair next to him, with his other treasures. “Are you sure you don’t want to try it? I can show you how to swim, but even if you don’t catch on it’s okay. We can’t drown.”

“Yeah, sure we can’t,” Micah grumbled.

The conversation felt like something from a sitcom. The vampire looked like a thug. Muscles bulged from his white tank top and ink decorated his arms and his face. At a glance Loren would have guessed he was the kind of guy who’d done time. Heck, for all Loren knew he had. And yet the guy was scared of the water.

Loren mopped his dark curly bangs out of his face. Turned when he was sixteen, he was stuck behind the mask of a cheerful kid for eternity. He had no choice but to take it in stride, just like he took his missing arm.

At the thought his brown eyes slid sideways to the stump. Thanks to his vampire blood there were no scars, no horrible deformities, just a perfect arm, wrapped in smooth porcelain skin, that ended at the elbow. No matter how neat it looked, it still sent a shiver up his spine. But, at least he could look at it now.

“Come on,” he tried again. “You don’t have to go all the way in.”

“I said no.” Micah tugged out a cigarette and lit it, as if that ended their conversation. His next words came in a cloud of smoke. “Go hassle someone else, huh?”

Loren rolled his eyes and headed back down the beach. Of his companions he seemed to be the only one who really understood what the words “beach vacation” meant. Maybe that was because he’d grown up on the beach. Maine was cold for half of the year, but the other half he’d lived barefoot and crusted with sand.

He splashed into the water and waded until it was deep enough to swim. Long, one armed strokes took him out into the cove, and he dropped down beneath the dark waves. He spun on his back and looked up to see the night sky through the water; the stars rippled and smeared with the waves and the crescent moon bobbed.

He turned and dived deeper. The watery world got darker, but his vampire eyes picked through the gloom to the rocks and plants below. He scanned for something worth hauling up. Something that would interest his bald, crabby friend.

He sensed her presence before he saw her. Torina swam next to him, wearing her scanty emerald green bikini. His eyes were drawn to her breasts, which threatened to spill out, and his mind went straight to the gutter.

She gave him an appreciative smile and a wink, as if she’d seen his thoughts. Then she swam towards the surface. Loren hesitated for a moment before he followed her.

He broke out through the top and wiped water from his eyes. She bobbed next to him, her long red hair wet against her head and her usual makeup missing. Without it, she looked a little less glamorous, and that much more approachable.

“Nice to see someone else swimming.” His eyes moved against his will to her heavy cleavage.

She cocked her head to one side and studied him. “I’m surprised to see you out here since you lost your…” she trailed off, and her green eyes touched on what was left of his arm. “I didn’t think anyone could swim with only one.”

Though he cringed inside, he forced a smile. “It took some getting used to, but it’s really not that different.”

“If you say so.” She moved closer and dropped her voice, as if sharing a secret. “If that had happened to me…I don’t know what I’d do.”

He shrugged. “You’d figure it out pretty quick.”

She looked thoughtful and then shook her head. “I don’t know if I would. We’re not all as resilient.”

“Ah, it’s not being resilient. There’s just no other choice except to curl up and die, and who wants to do that?”

“I guess it would depend on how bad living with it was.” She turned back for the beach. “Are you coming?”

A crude reply popped in his head, but e settled for shaking his head no.

“Suit yourself.” She swam off, and he watched her go with a silent sigh. She might seem more approachable, but he knew she was way out of his league. Of all the vampires on the island the only one who might have a chance with her was Jorick, and he was too busy with his human girlfriend to consider it.

Jorick was the vampires’ vampire. The kind that all the chicks wanted and the men respected. Tall with broad shoulders and long dark hair, he had a commanding presence and enough dark, emo brooding to make women want to save him. And even the men who hated him had to grudgingly admit that he was kick ass. Hell, even Micah had had to admit it.

Loren sighed. It was enough to make anyone feel inadequate.

He dove again and came back up with another, larger shell. He tucked it under the stump of his left arm and swam back to land. Micah was still in the chair, smoking, and he showed him his newest find. It garnered less enthusiasm than the last one had, and Loren deposited it with the others.

Jorick and Katelina suddenly stepped out from the palm trees. The human woman squinted and then let go of Jorick’s arm to draw closer. She pointed to the pile in the chair. “What’s all that?”

“Stuff I found,” Loren answered proudly. “There’s some cool stuff.”

“No gold,” Micah huffed.

She rolled her eyes. “Are you expecting pirate treasure?”

“Yeah why not?” Micah tugged out his cigarettes and Katelina snatched one from his fingers before he could light it. “What the fuck, Lunch? Tell your boyfriend to support your habit.”

“It’s not a habit. I just like one now and then. And quit calling me that.” She took a long puff and perched on the edge of the chair. “So what are you doing?”

“You’re lookin’ at it, Princess,” Micah answered and held his arms out.

“Looks boring.” She took another puff. “Torina’s up on the hill.”

“What’s she doing there?” Loren asked.

“Probably looking for someone to sleep with.” Katelina scowled and took another angry drag. “If she latches onto Jorick one more time…”

Micah chortled. “Worried your man has a wondering eye? You could keep him looking at you if you wore something better.” He nodded towards the one piece swimsuit and the floppy shirt she’d pulled over it.

“You mean run around naked like she does?”

“Whoa! Who’s naked?’ Loren asked and then laughed. “Ah, she and Jorick are old news.”

“So they say.” Katelina took another puff. “But she’s always hanging off of him.”

“She hangs off of everyone,” Loren said. He glanced down the beach to where Jorick had taken a seat. The vampire didn’t look directly at them, but Loren had a sense that he was still watching.

“She can come hang off of parts of me, anytime.” Micah gave a crude, throaty laugh and Katelina rolled her eyes.

“You’re all disgusting.”

Loren held up his hand. “Hey, I didn’t say anything.”

“But you were thinking it.” She inhaled and sighed. “I don’t think we’re ever going to get rid of her.”

“Torina?” Micah asked. “Probably not. But what’s the rush. We need some fucking eye candy around here.”

Katelina made a disgusted noise and stomped out the cigarette butt.  “As if she’d give either of you two the time of day.” Before they could reply she flounced off towards her boyfriend.

“Someone’s touchy.” Micah snickered. “So is Jorick ever gonna turn her or what?”

“I dunno, I guess so.” Loren took the seat she’d abandoned. “Though it’s kind of handy having her as a human.”

“Sometimes. Maybe.” Micah watched the couple for a moment then turned back to the teen. “I heard him and Oren talking last night. Apparently he’s worried about something.”

“What?” Loren asked with interest.

“How the fuck should I know? It has something to do with Lunch and that vampire in the temple.”

“Samael?”

“Yeah, whatever the fuck his name is.”

When no more came Loren pressed, “And?”

“And I don’t know! Fuck, they quit talking as soon as they realized I was there. Not like the executioner ass hole is gonna tell me anything. But, ask me, he should worry more about that red haired freak than some mysterious guy.”

Loren groaned. “You’re not back on Verchiel again? I told you, I think Jorick’s over reacting. Verchiel ‘s just aggravating them.”

“Sure he is. I tell you, if that was my girlfriend he was hitting on I’d punch his face in.”

“He’s not hitting on her. He’s just teasing her.”

“Whatever you say, pipsqueak. Just keep in mind I have a few years’ experience on you, huh?”

Loren snickered. “You have a lot of years’ experience, grandpa.”

Micah raised a fist. “You better watch that grandpa crap, kid.”

Loren jumped up and grinned. “You’d have to catch me first.” Then he took off, running through the palm trees and up the hill. He heard Micah swear and then the sound of his pursuit. At least the lug was out of his beach chair for five seconds.

He dashed out of the trees and into the bald crown of the hill. Torina sat on a bench, her legs crossed and a book in her lap. “Oh, it’s you.”

“Who did you expect?” he asked.  Before she could answer, Micah popped out of the jungle growth and tackled him to the ground.

“Grandpa, am I?” he ground his knuckles into the teen’s head.

“Hey! No noogies!” Loren shrieked, laughing.

Torina stood and surveyed them. “What are you doing?”

“I’m teaching this kid a lesson. Say Uncle!”

“Why uncle? Why not Grandpa?” He broke into laughing shrieks again as Micah ground harder. “All right! All right! Uncle!”

Micah stood and dusted his clothes off. “Damn kids these days have no respect.”

“Can you really expect them to when you behave like that?” Torina asked.

“What the fuck’s wrong with how I behave?”

“Oh, nothing, for a five year old.” Torina resumed her seat and flipped her book open.

Micah leaned on the back of the bench, no doubt leaning over just enough to see straight down her top. “So who you waiting for sugar cakes?”

“Not more of those horrible attempts at a pet name.”

“Nothing wrong with that one, was there?” Micah looked to Loren for support, but the teen just shrugged. He couldn’t really imagine calling a girl that, or any of the other names Micah came up with.

“If you say so.” Torina all but stifled a yawn. “Why don’t you run along now?”

“Why? You in a hurry to get rid of us?” Micah made a show of taking a seat next to her. “Me and pipsqueak got as much right to be up here as you do.”

Torina didn’t bother to answer, but Loren could see her annoyance on her face. They were never going to find out what was going on by hanging around. “Hey, Micah, this is boring. Let’s go.”

“What?” Loren gave him a just-shut-up look, and he grumbled. “Yeah, yeah, fine. Guess we’ll see you later.”

“Better later than sooner,” Torina called as they disappeared into the trees again.

When they were out of ear shot Micah demanded, “What the hell was that?”

The teen shushed him. “She’s not gonna tell us, and whoever she’s meeting won’t show up while we’re there.”

“So?” Micah seemed to suddenly catch on. “You mean we wait here and then follow whoever up?”

“Something like that.” It was doubtful her secret rendezvous would walk right under their noses, but stranger things had happened. “Who do you think it is?”

“Well it ain’t her brother, that’s for sure, and it ain’t us. That leaves Jorick, that ass hole Wolfe, or that red headed Executioner. If I had to bet, I’d go for him.”

“Verchiel? I thought you said he was after Katelina.”

Micah rolled his eyes. “He ain’t after Lunch like that. He just wants a piece coz he ain’t supposed to have it. You know, sticking your finger in someone else’s pie kind of thing. I bet he’d do Torina, too.”

“Who wouldn’t?” Loren asked and then snickered.

They fell silent, and the minutes dragged past. Loren didn’t have a watch, but if he did he’d have checked it obsessively. He had just decided that they should sneak up the hill and see if Verchiel had sneaked up the other side, when he heard someone crashing noisily though the foliage.

He opened his mouth, but Micah motioned him to silence. They both squinted through the dark, and sniffed. As the perpetrator drew closer, his scent met them and Loren’s eyes went wide.

“It’s a human,” he whispered. He sniffed again and thought he recognized him as one of the island staff.

Micah shushed him and they stood motionless and tense as the man hurried past them, almost close enough to touch had they wanted to. They waited until the sounds died down before Micah motioned Loren to follow and started up after him.

They crept silently up the hillside and crouched at the edge of the vegetation. Loren peered between the giant leaves of some tropical plant. The man stood in front of Torina, eyes locked with hers and his expression one of helpless devotion.

The redhead cocked a hip and then motioned him closer. He walked without looking at his feet, and only stopped when she touched him. She traced her finger from his shoulder, up his neck and to his chin. She smiled, slow and seductive, and then drew him towards the bench.

How much of this should we watch?

Loren shifted uncomfortably and glanced at Micah, but the bald vampire seemed oblivious. Loren looked back to the hilltop and his eyes went wide as Torina straddled the man and with a final whisper in his ear, bit into his neck.

Half sex, half feeding, the scene was out of some bizarre porno, and though Loren knew they shouldn’t watch, he couldn’t stop. It was only when the vampiress made a high, moaning sound of climax that he managed to tear his eyes away and slink back into the plants.

Micah met him a moment later and wordlessly they hurried down the slope. When they reached the  clearing around the houses Loren broke the silence. “Holy shit!”

Micah laughed and slapped him on the back. “Ah kid, I’ve seen better.” He sobered. “Though what the fuck is with that guy? She could have her choice and she picks him?”

“Maybe she likes humans?” Loren suggested.  The images were still bright and clear in his mind and left his face red.

“You mean like Jorick seems to?” Micah snickered.

“Jorick seems to what?”

They looked up guiltily to see Katelina and Jorick. “Oh, uh, hi.” The teen’s face turned redder as the participants in his mental scene suddenly changed to the newcomers.

Katelina gave him an odd look. “Are you all right?”

Jorick narrowed his eyes and Loren knew he’d seen it, but there was nothing he could do. “Yeah, um. Fine. Just gonna go swimming.”

“Then maybe you should go?” Jorick suggested.

“Right, Good idea.” He grabbed Micah’s arm and dragged him away.

“What the fuck, pipsqueak? I didn’t have time to irritate Lunch yet.”

“What do you want to do that for?”

“Because it’s fun to watch her get all worked up. And Jorick gets all pissed and starts threatening shit that you know he ain’t gonna do.” He pulled loose, and grinned. “You gotta love that.”

“I dunno. I always worry he’ll make good on his threats.”

“Nah. And even if he tries, I say let him. I’ll show him a thing or two, huh?” They stopped next to the beach chairs and Micah dropped into the one he’d abandoned. “You know what we need, kid? Some chicks in bikinis.”

Loren managed to nod, but after the scene with Torina he wasn’t so sure. One was bad enough. What would he do if they had an island full of that?

The idea was enough to keep his imagination busy the rest of the night.

Look for #6, the last Tales from the Island, next week, and don’t forget that book 6: Children of Shadows will be available March 15, 2014. You can pre-order it at Barnes & Noble & Apple iTunes

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