Haunts and Hellions!

Finally, something fun and happy to blog about! I have a story in an amazing new anthology from HorrorAddicts.net press!

Harkening back to the glory days of gothic romance that had us up reading all night, HorrorAddicts.net Press Presents: 

Haunts & Hellions edited by Emerian Rich

13 stories of horror, romance, and that perfect moment when the two worlds collide. Vengeful spirits attacking the living, undead lovers revealing their true nature, and supernatural monsters seeking love, await you. Pull the blinds closed, light your candle, and cuddle up in your reading nook for some chilling—and romantic—tales.

With stories by: Emily Blue, Lucy Blue, Kevin Ground, Rowan Hill, Naching T. Kassa, Emmy Z. Madrigal, R.L. Merrill, N.C. Northcott, Emerian Rich, Daniel R. Robichaud, Daphne Strasert, Tara Vanflower, and B.F. Vega.

**********

An excerpt from Haunts & Hellions

My Ain True Love

Lucy Blue

1776

Boston, Massachusetts

“Jacob McCardle, Miss Smith.” He was one of the young surgeons who’d come for the symposium. She had noticed him at meals and rather liked the look of him, particularly when he’d laughed at Lizzie’s jokes. “Lizzie and I have become fast friends, and she’s asked for my help.” He had beautiful blue eyes that held no hint of guile or evil. “My family is very active in the call for the abolition of slavery in the northern colonies. If you’ll allow me, I’d like to assist you in your escape.”

Part of Rosalie wanted desperately to deny any of it was happening. She was still so much a child herself. Her stepmother couldn’t mean to sell her. Her father couldn’t be dead. She couldn’t have just been a thing to him all this time, a piece of property, but when she looked again at the document in her hands, she had to admit it was true.

“That’s very chivalrous of you, Mr. McCardle, but this is Virginia,” she said. “If we were caught, you’d be arrested and probably hanged. If you help me, you’ll be risking your life.”

He smiled. “I’ll be risking my soul if I don’t. Now hurry, please—bring only what you absolutely must.”

“All right, but…” She looked around the room at a loss. She would need her clothes, of course, and her books. There was so much, all the lovely things her father had given her, a life full of beautiful objects. But never her freedom. “Oh Papa.” She sighed, tears spilling down her cheeks.

“Rosie, hurry!” Lizzie insisted. “She could be back any minute.”

“I fear the child is right,” Jacob said. “I overheard Mrs. Smith already offering you to one of the more affluent men present as a—” He broke off, glancing at Lizzie. “Laboratory assistant.”

“Oh dear God.” It was a nightmare. It must be.

Suddenly there came a clatter from outside. Her window overlooked the front of the house, and looking down, she saw a carriage drive up. When it stopped, four men armed with muskets leapt out.

“We’re out of time,” Jacob said. “Get a wrap and any keepsakes you can carry in a purse. We have to go now.”

“Hurry,” Lizzie said even as she threw herself into Rosalie’s arms. “I love you.”

“I love you, sweet.” Drawing back, she untied the ribbon from her sister’s hair. “To remember you by,” she said, kissing the little girl’s cheek.

“I’ll get her to safety, Lizzie, I promise,” Jacob said. “But we must go now.”

He took her hand in a firm grip as they hurried down the back stairs and out through the serving pantry that led to the covered walkway to the kitchen. They broke into a run as they crossed the backyard and headed into the trees. Under the oaks, it was black as pitch, but Jacob seemed to know where he was going, and Rosalie had always been a good runner, even in a corset. The lights of the house had just disappeared behind them when she saw a single dim lantern glowing just ahead.

Another young man was waiting, holding the bridle of a horse that was hitched to a wagon.

“You’re a madman, Jacob,” he said in the flat accent of the North. “This is robbery, plain and simple.”

“Kidnapping, actually,” Jacob said. “Now, go back to the house and as we are friends, say nothing.”

“Not a word,” the other man said. He made a sheepish bow to Rosalie. “Godspeed, miss.” He walked away fast the way they had come.

“You’ll have to ride in the back, I’m afraid,” Jacob said, leading her around the wagon. “And that’s not the worst of it.” He threw back a tarp from over the cargo, and the ungodly stench made her feel faint.

“What is it?” Three long wooden boxes were laid side by side, and she suddenly realized what they were. “Oh no.”

“Cadavers from your father’s laboratory,” Jacob said. “The third box is empty. Hopefully if we’re stopped, no one will touch it after they’ve opened the first two.”

“Corpses?” Rosalie wasn’t particularly squeamish—she had assisted her father in his laboratory for years—but she had a horror of small, enclosed places. “No.” She backed away. “I can’t. I’m sorry, but I just can’t.”

“Miss Smith,” Jacob said, catching her. “Rosalie.” He held her and looked into her eyes. “You can, and you must.”

In the distance, she could hear a man shouting. They’d be after them soon, those men with the muskets, hunting her down like an animal.

“You have nothing to fear from the dead,” Jacob said. He stepped back to show her the coachman’s pistol and sabre he had tucked into his belt. “And I will protect you from the living.”

“All right.” She took a deep breath of the cool night air, trying not to smell her fellow passengers.

He opened the third coffin and helped her up into the wagon.

“The boards at the bottom are loose, and there’s a hole in the wagon underneath,” he said. “If the worst should happen to me, slip out, hide, and run. I have sent my servant on ahead to Boston to an attorney, a Mr. Henderson, who keeps an office on Broad Street. Make your way there. You’ll be expected.”

To read more, read Haunts and Hellions at: Amazon.com

When One Demon Lover Just Isn’t Enough – Behind the Red Door by Alexandra Christian

BehindTheRedDoor_72dpi

Just in time for lazing on the beach (or hiding your Kindle from the kiddies at the beach house), my baby sister, Alexandra Christian, is releasing all three novellas in her Behind the Red Door series from Mocha Memoirs Press in one hot and handy volume.  But here, I’ll let her tell you all about it:

Welcome to The Oubliette.

Cali Barrows has had it with love.  After wasting three years with the man she thought was the love of her life, she finds out that he’s been sleeping with his boss.  Broken-hearted and bored, Cali’s life had become a string of TV dinners and tawdry romance novels. She wondered where her life was going until she followed the mysterious stranger through the red door and enters a world that few would everknow existed.

The Oubliette is a safe haven for all those creatures that go bump in the night.  They cater to a very particular clientele and only those who seek it out may find the red door leading into a dark paradise of otherworldly delights.  Together with her vampire hosts, André and Leo, Cali becomes a matchmaker for the undead and unwittingly gets herself into all sorts of mischief, all the while slipping into a decadent world where every sensual desire is fulfilled.

One reviewer on Amazon wrote about “Three to Tango”:  “Two vampires, one human: many possibilities. I adored this story. It was shorter than I would like, to be honest. Just enough heat to spice things up without ruining the story.”

Get yer own here:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Alexandra%20Christian&search-alias=books#/ref=sr_nr_p_n_feature_browse-b_2?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3AAlexandra+Christian%2Cp_n_feature_browse-bin%3A618073011&bbn=283155&ie=UTF8&qid=1349328622&rnid=618072011

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/strange-bedfellows-alexandra-christian/1113051106?ean=2940015623277

All Romance eBooks:  http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Alexandra+Christian

Bookstrand:  http://www.bookstrand.com/alexandra-christian

Smashwords:  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/234701

A nifty holiday gift from Purple Sword Publications

purple sword samplerPrefer to taste before you buy?  Purple Sword Publications knows you do, you naughty minx, and they’ve put out a sampler o’ sexy reads just for you.  Excerpts from all their best paranormal and fantasy erotica and romance from 2013, all in a pretty purple package, all for free.  (Including a few hot bites from my own Purple Sword book, Strange as Angels (https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-strangeasangels-1297349-340.html)

Get your (free -did I mention it’s totally FREE?) sampler here:

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-purpleswordsampler2013-1374862-166.html

Some end of the year housecleaning

tenderbitescoverHey kittens, guess what?  We survived the end of the world!  And with any luck, we’ll survive the end of 2012 altogether.  Just a few things before we do . . . .

First of all, thanks again SO MUCH to everybody who entered our Ho-Ho-Holiday Giveaway.  (Check out the text box to the right if you still don’t know who won.)  We had such a blast putting it together and such a good response, we’re already planning the sequel.  (Watch this space!)

Secondly, if you want to read my free-here-on-the-blog Christmas story, “Kissing Noel,” but you haven’t gotten around to it yet, hie thee hence, my darlings.  Come January 2, 2013, it’s gone . . . for-EV-AAAAAHHHHH.  Well, okay, gone until I put together another anthology at some point, but right now it’s free.  (Kindle & Nook & iPad lovers, if you really really really need a pdf, drop me a line at lucybluecastle@gmail.com before New Year’s Day, and I’ll see if I can hook you up.)

And finally, my vampire romance anthology, Tender Bites, is still very much available from Amazon for the shockingly low price of $2.49 – if you know somebody who got a Kindle for Christmas, my vamps will be more than happy to help them warm it up.

And unless there’s something somebody else wants to talk about, I think that’s it.  Thanks so much for reading this year; you guys know you all rock out.  I can’t wait to see what’s coming up for all of us in 2013!

If one is good . . . .

HolidayGiveaway . . . then five must be better, right?  Specifically five naughty romance writers banded together to make your season bright.  Me, Alexandra Christian, Crymsyn Hart, Selah Janel, and Siobhan Kinkade have gotten the Christmas spirit and put together a happy little holiday gift box to give away to one of our darling readers.  From December 2 to December 21, enter to win a USB Flash Drive full of sexy read-y goodness:

Under the Mistletoe by Siobhan Kinkade

Marked by Siobhan Kinkade

Jingle Balls by Crymsyn Hart

Hairy and Hung by Crymsyn Hart 

Masquerade by Alexandra Christian

Second Skin by Alexandra Christian

In the Red by Selah Janel

And of course my own Tender Bites.  Light or dark, beastie hot or vampire cool, there’s something here for every holiday craving.  Plus, knowing us, I suspect there’ll be a couple of surprises tucked in the corners, just to be festive.  Second prize will be a $10 digital Amazon gift certificate, and third prize will be a $5 digital Amazon gift certificate.

Check out the full details and enter to win here at the widget on Crymsyn Hart’s blog.  And feel free to ask me anything in the comments below.  xoxoxo Lucy 

The Books That Taught Me How to Write Sex

One of the most fun compliments I get from readers is, “Your sex scenes are so hot!”  Or “romantic,” or “steamy,” or whatever.  I’m sure Shakespeare used to love hearing the same thing, and I understand Jonathan Franzen freakin’ LIVES for it. 

Seriously, I love hearing that a love scene that I wrote worked for a reader.  I know that’s one of the big reasons I love reading romance.  Friends of ours dearly love teasing Max and me about the “research” I must be doing at home, and I happily admit that being in a happy, healthy relationship with the hub-unit helps a lot when getting inspired to write the big hoopty sex for my characters.  But strangely enough, in the moment, I don’t really think that much about how to translate the experience into fictionalized text. 

Thankfully, I’ve been training to write about sex a lot longer than I’ve been having it, by reading romance. 

My first sneaky forays into steamy literature were stolen from my mom and my aunts – paperbacks left unattended at the beach house or next to the bathtub or on the bottom shelf of the coffee table in my grandmother’s living room.  About the time I was entering puberty and wondering when my own bodice might invite a little ripping, all the women in the family, like most female readers in the world, went crazy for the hot romances of people like Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss.  My cousin and best friend and I managed to get our sweaty little hands on all of these sagas of boy meets girl, boy rapes girl but she likes it, boy loses girl to hideous villain, boy kills everybody in his way to rescue girl, boy and girl get married, and I devoured them with swoony delight.  But I never really wanted to keep and reread one forever until I found Woodiwiss’ The Wolf and the Dove

Notice, please, the dark knight on the cover.  My two favorite “real” books at that time were The Once and Future King by T.H. White and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.  So you can imagine my delight at finding a sex-soaked, no-holds-barred story about a spirited brat being tamed with orgasms by a conquering Norman with a big black horse and a bad attitude.  The sexual politics are just appalling; I read it now and cringe.  But I won’t even try to deny that the subject matter and the way it was written had a profound influence on my reading and my writing right up to today. 

By my mid-teens, I knew that I wanted to be a writer and that I wanted to major in English literature in college.  I had gone to the Governor’s School for the Arts; I had learned to pretend to like John Fowles.  I still read romance, but I couldn’t throw myself into it as wholeheartedly as I had before.  I was old enough to know a rape when I read one, no matter how prettily the victim swooned.  And the books had started to repeat themselves, at least for me – it had started to feel like the same story over and over again with different costumes.  The only romance writer I read consistently during that period was Bertrice Small, and quite frankly, I read her like porn.  If you want a neat encapsulation of what the bodice ripper became near the end of its heydey, I direct you to The Kadin.   

Like most of Small’s novels, The Kadin concerns a lovely young Englishwoman who at some point is kidnapped and sold into slavery in a foreign land where she becomes absolute ruler of all she surveys just by being so freakin’ awesome in the sack.  It wasn’t a new book when I read it, and it hasn’t aged particularly well for me since – the sex scenes that seemed so detailed and shocking the first time I read them seem rushed and almost quaint to me now.  Basically in a Small book, lovers do an awful lot of crazy stuff, but they don’t do any of it for very long.  But I have to admit, there’s an awful lot of purely mechanical stuff that I might never have picked up if I hadn’t picked up Bertrice Small.  I think my husband at least owes her a nice note.  And one great thing about her heroines – they weren’t prissy.  They weren’t ashamed – in fact, the over-arching plotline of each book is a woman learning to own her sexuality.  Granted, she does it while being kept a captive slave, but hey, the BDSM community would probably tell me “well, duh.” 

But I found another book in paperback at about that same time that I found just as sexy and whole bunch more empowering – Fanny by Erica Jong. 

Jong was already famous for her first blockbuster, Fear of Flying, a contemporary novel that defined the “zipless fuck” and a woman’s right to have one.  (Yes, kittens, it’s true – feminism actually used to be considered sexy.)  Fanny is actually an expansion of her MFA thesis, a historical novel written in the style of its period but from the point of view of a female protagonist – a girl’s own Tom Jones.  I had never read Tom Jones (or Fear of Flying, for that matter), and I hadn’t much liked Moll Flanders or Fanny Hill.  But I fell completely in love with this book, not as an exercise in literary style or a feminist tract but as a romance.  The central love story between Fanny, the hot girl who longs more than anything to write, and Lancelot Jones, the bisexual highwayman who loves her, is insane, hilarious, completely over the top – and hit home with me in a way none of my mom’s romances ever had.  A whole lot of people loathe this book, but I still absolutely love it and highly recommend it.  The freedom of it, the confidence of the heroine, the way sex and sexual connection mean everything in the story without ever turning it sappy – all of these things influenced me hugely as a writer and hopefully come through in the romances I write.

In college, my pleasure reading habits wandered away from romance and more into gothic horror–I would blame my college boyfriend, but heaven knows, he’s suffered enough.   Anne Rice became my new favorite contemporary author.  But I found myself poring through all those sad, sad tales of fangy boys in love with one another wishing for a girl vamp who was even half as sexy – Claudia the perpetual five-year-old just didn’t do it for me as a relatable heroine.  (My all-time favorite Rice novel so far is still The Witching Hour, which is quite sexy but hardly a romance.)  In due course, I discovered the Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, and I did love it, and the style and bravery of it did inspire me a lot and make me braver when I started writing my own erotic scenes.  But as with Bertrice Small’s books, the relationships felt like nothing more important than a framework to connect the sex scenes – nothing in the world wrong with that, but it’s not what I write. 

But because I liked the Beauty books so much, a friend recommended another “Anne Rampling” novel – Belinda. 

By today’s standards, Belinda is a sicko book.  The heroine is a sixteen-year-old girl; the hero is an admitted pedophile.  If I found out any girl that age I knew was having this kind of relationship with a man in his thirties, I’d call the cops, I don’t care how much they said they loved one another or how beautiful his paintings of her were.  But for all its queasy perversion, Belinda is a romance.  It’s not Lolita, a character study of a broken psyche and the baby slut who exploits it.  It’s not porn; the love relationship is everything, and the sex, hot and weird as it is, is fully an expression of that love.  Rice applied all her considerable gifts as a stylist and storyteller to making the reader fall in love with these people, and for me at least, it totally worked.  I got caught up in it against my better judgment the same way I had once lost myself in The Wolf and the  Dove.  It moved me; it turned me on; it made me feel better about my own instincts as a writer.  I knew I wanted to write romance, in spite of everything my professors could do to shame me out of it.  Books like Fanny and Belinda showed me that romance didn’t have to follow a set pattern, didn’t have to always be pretty, didn’t have to be sappy or sentimental.  I could write my own special kind of romance, and I could make them as hot as I wanted. 

Two unpublished novels, one collaboration, six full-length historical paranormals, and one collection of sexy vampire short stories later, I still believe it.  Since I stopped fighting my instinct for romance, I’ve found so many other writers who have found their own ways to break the mold within the genre – I defy anybody to find a writer who understands the dynamics between real men and women in love better than Julie Garwood, whether she’s writing my beloved medievals or her newer contemporary books, and her sex scenes have always been hotter than hell.  Indie publishing is overflowing these days with swoon-worthy romances for every taste and proclivity–even now, you don’t have to love regencies to read romance.  If you want to make a living, it helps if you write them, but that’s a whole other blog post . . . .

The point is, if you want to write good sex, having it is great, but reading it is better.  I’m still constantly on the lookout for a good romantic smut book (paging Alexandra Christian), but these are where I started. 

 

Tender Bites Contest Running All Month Long

Don’t forget, kittens, I’m doing a contest!  The rules are simple – review Tender Bites somewhere on the interwebs, email me the link at lucybluecastle@gmail.com, and you’re entered to win.  At the end of the contest I will literally put everybody’s email address into a literal hat and draw out a winner.  And the winner will get autographed paperback copies of all three books in the Bound in Darkness medieval vampire romance series, written, obviously, by me.  (To get a peek at what those are exactly, click this link:  https://lucybluecastle.wordpress.com/bound-in-darkness/)

The Details:

1 – Reviews do NOT need to be positive to be considered contest entries.  One review = one entry, regardless. 

2 – If you do more than one review or post your one review more than one place, send me each link separately – every link counts as its own review and its own entry in the contest. 

3 – You don’t have to buy your own copy of the e-book to review it – how would I even know?- but I do insist that you actually read it.  If it’s obvious from your review that you haven’t read it yet, that you’re reviewing the promo materials or me as a writer in general or life its own self, I won’t enter it, and you can’t make me.  I can’t imagine anybody doing that, but gurus tell me that stuff I can’t imagine happens online every day of the week, so I figured I’d just mention it.

4- The contest is open as of right now, and closes at midnight on December 1, 2012.  I’ll do the drawing later that day and post the results here.  Obviously make sure I have a good email address for you with your entry so I can email you if you win. 

And that’s it.  Or at least I think that’s it – if you have any questions or I’ve left anything out, tell me so in the comments so I can address it.  Thanks, kittens!  Tell me what you think!

Tender Bites Contest – I’m suppressing the urge to use yet another exclamation point . . .

Don’t forget, kittens, I’m doing a contest!  The rules are simple – review Tender Bites somewhere on the interwebs, email me the link at lucybluecastle@gmail.com, and you’re entered to win.  At the end of the contest I will literally put everybody’s email address into a literal hat and draw out a winner.  And the winner will get autographed paperback copies of all three books in the Bound in Darkness medieval vampire romance series, written, obviously, by me.  (To get a peek at what those are exactly, click this link:  https://lucybluecastle.wordpress.com/bound-in-darkness/)

The Details:

1 – Reviews do NOT need to be positive to be considered contest entries.  One review = one entry, regardless. 

2 – If you do more than one review or post your one review more than one place, send me each link separately – every link counts as its own review and its own entry in the contest. 

3 – You don’t have to buy your own copy of the e-book to review it – how would I even know?- but I do insist that you actually read it.  If it’s obvious from your review that you haven’t read it yet, that you’re reviewing the promo materials or me as a writer in general or life its own self, I won’t enter it, and you can’t make me.  I can’t imagine anybody doing that, but gurus tell me that stuff I can’t imagine happens online every day of the week, so I figured I’d just mention it.

4- The contest is open as of right now, and closes at midnight on December 1, 2012.  I’ll do the drawing later that day and post the results here.  Obviously make sure I have a good email address for you with your entry so I can email you if you win. 

And that’s it.  Or at least I think that’s it – if you have any questions or I’ve left anything out, tell me so in the comments so I can address it.  Thanks, kittens!  Tell me what you think!

Budapest

 Okay, kittens, here it is – the last preview tidbit from Tender Bites before it goes live on Amazon tomorrow. 

“Budapest” is the most contemporary story in the collection; I envision it happening pretty much right now.  In every vampire story I’ve done before, the vampires have either been isolated predators or, as in the case of the Bound in Darkness series, all connected to one another through a single quest or event.  In “Budapest,” I’ve played with the idea of a vampire society that isn’t exactly open but isn’t isolated, either, a system of connection between vamps and how that would affect their relationships with one another and the mortal world.  It’s one thing to say “I’ll love you forever” to someone whose body at least is going to eventually die; it’s something else when you and your beloved one are literally, physically immortal.  It’s not a new idea, obviously – I may be the only vampire writer on the planet who hasn’t gone here yet.  But this is my take. 

Budapest

Last Tuesday

Cat climbed out of her lead-lined coffin, stumbled, and nearly fell flat on her face.  It was barely sunset; she was still mostly asleep.  The pounding on the door started again, louder this time.  “Who is it?” she demanded, her eyes darting around the barely-familiar hotel room.  Where the hell had she put her sword?  She grabbed the gun with blessed bullets from the nightstand instead—less reliable, particularly against atheist vampires, but hopefully in Budapest, that wouldn’t be an issue. 

“Richard,” the door replied.  “Catriona, let me in.”

“Oh for pity’s sake . . .”  She fumbled the deadbolt open and reached for the handle.  “What are you doing here?”

“You’re not an easy girl to find,” he muttered, pushing past her.

“That was rather the idea,” she retorted. 

Richard was the oldest friend of her momentarily estranged lover, Indo.  In fact, rumor had it Richard was the oldest friend any vampire had, that he was the oldest vampire left roaming the earth.  She had never thought he looked the part.  Tall, thin, and blond with a patrician nose and the perpetual squint of a perpetual scholar, he always looked like an unmade bed.  Tonight he was even more rumpled than usual, his wrinkled coat far too thin for the chill winds of Eastern Europe in November.  Her nostrils flared, picking up the smell of blood, faded faint but still distinct, the smell of a powerful death – vampire blood, not human.  His black coat was covered with it.  This was not normal.  She had known Richard for three hundred years, and she had never once seen him take a living victim.  He had been the first vampire of her acquaintance to attempt to live on cow’s blood, and he was rumored to be one of the so-called “Blessed Nine” scientists and alchemists who had been working for decades on creating a synthetic.  If he were stained with vampire blood, something bad had happened.  “Richard, where is Indo?”

“I haven’t the faintest idea.”  Indo had left her six months before, swearing once again she was too wicked, too savage for bearing.  She had accidentally taken too much from a perfectly willing thrall and put the stupid girl in the hospital where she had recovered completely in the space of a day.  But Indo, Enforcer that he was, had completely overreacted, as he always did, and had taken off in a huff.  He always went to Richard when they had these fights.  Richard was his sanctuary, his monastery, his ashram, his calm.  But now Richard was covered in vampire blood, and he looked anything but calm.   He was prowling the room like a cat, peering into the bathroom, the closet.  “I suppose he could have gone back home to Tokyo.”  He yanked back the drapes, exposing her impressive view of the city.  “I honestly don’t know.”

“But he is alive.”  She put her hand on his shoulder.  “Richard?”

“Of course Indo is alive,” he said bitterly, his eyes searching the dark as if for predators or prey.  “If anyone ever truly threatened to kill Indo, I have no doubt some sort of samurai angel with a golden katana and a thousand tongues of fire would rush immediately to his defense.”

Cat suppressed an unbecoming snort.  “Did the two of you have a tiff?”

He gave her a look that could have wilted a cactus.  “You could say that.”

“Oh dear . . . . So what do you want me to do about it?”  She started to move away, but he caught hold of her robe, silk clenched in a dirty fist.  “What’s wrong with you?” she asked, worried all over again.

“I’m very tired, Catriona.”  He was looking at her in a way he’d never looked at her before.  Other men had, of course – humans who thought they were predators before they realized they were prey; vampires who mistook her delicacy for weakness.  It was a hungry look, a conqueror’s look.  It looked strange on Richard . . . strange because in the dim light of the hotel room, it fit his face so well. 

She reached down and disengaged his hand from her robe.  “Maybe you should tell me all about it.”

He clamped his hand around her wrist like he was grabbing a sword hilt, hard and sure and painfully tight–none of the adjectives she would ever have associated with being held by Richard.  She had never realized how big he was before, how powerful.  He had always seemed hunched, a spider, a scholar.  Now he was standing up quite straight, and she realized how broad he was at the shoulders, how big his hands were.  “No.”  For once he wasn’t squinting in the slightest.  She had never noticed how blue his eyes were, how intense his gaze could be.  “I don’t want to tell you anything about it.”  He dragged her closer, his free hand going to the draped closure of her robe.  “I don’t want to talk.”

The Artist

The penultimate preview peek at Tender Bites, my new vampire anthology – one more after today, then Saturday, it’s out.  Also, check back here on Saturday for details on a nifty new contest to go along with my first ever self-published e-book launch – it’s kind of like a wedding, something old, something new . . . .

As for this particular story, The Artist, I have a confession to make – I love’em all, but I think this one is the sexiest.  It’s my take on the classic vampire seduction with a slightly harder edge.  Want a taste?

The Artist

San Francisco, 1997

Dante wandered lonely as a cloud down the foggy San Francisco street, a black and brooding wisp of storm cloud that obscured and revealed each moonbeam pool of streetlight as he passed.  A subtle change had come over him lately, an ever-deepening malaise.  The vampire who had made him so many centuries before had warned him this would eventually happen, but he hadn’t believed it.  He had thought he would revel in his power for all eternity.  But lately, he hadn’t so much reveled as endured.  Nothing interested him; nothing excited him; even the taste of blood and the thrill of the kill had lost their spark. 

A happy cackle of feminine laughter danced out of an open doorway to rush to his defense.  Turning to the painted glass, he felt the cloud that surrounded him fading back into the fog . . .

The girl at the bar laughed again, one forearm resting lightly against her lover’s shoulder as he hovered by her stool.  Her clothes were as black and primitive cool as the vampire’s weary mood – black mesh shirt, black lace bra, black jeans so tight his eyes could trace the slit of her sex behind the denim.  But her black leather boots were nestled heel to terrifying heel on the bar at her elbow, leaving her little feet with their blue-polished nails bare to the scrutiny of the world.  And her red hair was as striking and utterly natural as her laugh.  A smile teased the corners of his mouth.  She was a darling, a cheeky little lamb tricked out in the black duds of the contemporary she-wolf.

In other words, just the ticket.

She leaned over to catch her mortal lover’s whisper and caught sight of the vampire watching from the window.  Her eyes widened as she made a droll face at him – waddya lookin’ at? the twist of her mouth demanded.  But her eyes weren’t nearly so tough or so funny.  When Dante continued to stare, unsmiling, unblinking, refusing to be moved, her eyes lost every defense.

“Francesca?” the man at her side asked, looking over his shoulder to see what had captured her attention so completely.  The vampire faded back from the glass, disappearing from their sight.  He watched the girl, Francesca’s expression cloud for a moment, vaguely confused and disappointed.  Then she turned back to her mortal beloved.  Francesca . . . don’t worry, he thought.  I won’t keep you waiting for long.

An hour later, he watched from a darkened doorway across the street as the happy little couple had a happy little argument on the sidewalk in front of the bar as their friends stood a discreet three or four yards away pretending to study the stars they couldn’t see through the San Francisco fog.  With a few well-chosen and deadly verbal assaults, Francesca and her lover negotiated a grudging peace as regards the rest of the evening, never dreaming a depressed and hungry vampire was hanging on every word.  They finally decided that he would go on with their friends and see another band while she took the car home and got some apparently pressing work done – a reasonable and sublimely convenient compromise, the vampire thought.  His smile would have made a strong man shudder had one been close enough to see it.

He closed his eyes and counted slowly, an ancient demon’s version of a mortal baby’s game.  Ninety-seven . . . ninety-eight . . . ninety-nine . . . one hundred.  He opened his eyes.  The sidewalk across the street was now empty except for a kid in an apron sweeping up cigarette butts.  Dante turned his face up to the moon’s caress and sniffed the air until he found her scent . . . crumbles of chocolate scattered amongst the crushed, wet petals of a rose . . .

He smiled again, fangs glittering in the dim, misty light.  Ready or not, sweetheart . . . .