Dusk Warriors – New Vamps from Emerian Rich!

One of the great things about having a network of brilliant author friends is having people to provide brilliant content for your blog. Author and goth culture goddess Emerian Rich is taking over today to give us an excerpt from her new release, Dusk Warriors:

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dwbook3d2Lucy was kind enough to let me share an excerpt from my new book Dusk’s Warriors. What about a good old vampire hunt?

 

Excerpt from Dusk’s Warriors:

“Let me buy you a drink for helping me find my way.”

She considered as he read her mind. I got work in the morning and already dealt with one imbecile who thought he could have his way with me.

Julien looked into her eyes. His intent? Making her say yes. She was a tough one. Just like Jespa.

“All right,” she said. “But only if we go to that place.” She pointed across the street to another bar. It wasn’t as dark and the music wasn’t as hard, but Julien could see possibility.

“As you wish.”

They were the only patrons in the run-down club. Approaching the bar, he placed a crisp bill on the wooden bar top.

“Two glasses of red wine.”

“I can’t break a bill that large.” The bar keep wore a faded black concert T and looked like he hadn’t showered in a week.

“Then give us the bottle.”

“Mister, I still can’t break a bill this large.”

“I don’t want change.” The edge in Julien’s voice told the guy not to question him again. Julien took a deep breath before returning to the girl.

She glanced tentatively at the door and then at him as she fidgeted with her boot lace. He’s hot, but all he sees me as is an easy lay.

Or an easy drink. Julien snickered to himself.

“What’s so funny?” she asked.

Julien hadn’t meant to laugh aloud, but it didn’t matter. He would charm his way through it as he always did.

“You remind me of someone.”

“Oh, yeah? Gonna tell me who?”

“Someone I loved.” He looked into her eyes, attempting to wield his hypnotic power over her. He put his hand over hers on the table. Despite her strong will, the girl seemed to melt.

The barman brought over a bottle of cheap wine and two chilled glasses.

“We don’t have an ice bucket or anything.”

“It’s fine,” Julien said through clenched teeth, striving to keep the girl’s attention. Her will bent, but the barman’s voice pulled her out of the trance.

“You all right, hon?” the barkeep asked.

The girl looked unsure, blinking as she looked from the keep to Julien.

“She’s fine.” Julien spoke in controlled anger.

“Look, friend, I’d like to hear it from her,” the keep said.

“I’m fine,” the girl echoed.

“I just thought…”

“Step away from the table,” Julien said through clenched teeth. He rose, barely able to control his anger.

“I don’t want no trouble.”

“Then leave, and you won’t have any.”

The barkeep seemed frozen in his spot.

“Pardon me for a moment,” Julien said to the girl and walked the unwilling barkeep to a store room in the back of the bar.

As soon as the storeroom door closed, Julien’s forearm pressed against the keep’s throat.

“You should learn to mind your own business.”

The keep choked, coughing and panting as Julien pressed on his windpipe. Unable to control his anger or his thirst, Julien sunk his fangs into the keep’s neck before he knew what he was doing. As the blood flowed over his teeth and down his throat, Julien lost all concept of reality. His fangs ripped and tore at the man’s neck, turning him into a worthless corpse. The keep fell to the floor and Julien’s vision cleared.

dwBAR

Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich

 

Heaven has opened up and welcomed the vampires of Night’s Knights into a new reality. As they struggle to find their place in their new world, trouble brews on Earth.

 

Demon servant, Ridge, is causing havoc by gathering up all the souls on Earth that have been touched by immortality. When he injures one of the Night’s Knights crew, he launches a war between the vampires of Heaven, the Big Bad in Hell, and a mortal street gang of vigilante misfits.

 

Will Julien, Markham, and Reidar be able to defeat the evil that’s returned, or will they once again need Jespa’s help?

 

Praise for Dusk’s Warriors:

“All hail, the queen of Night’s Knights has returned! Emerian Rich’s unique take on vampires delights my black little heart.” ~Dan Shaurette, Lilith’s Love

 

“A world of horror with realistic characters in a fast paced thriller you won’t be able to put down.”

~David Watson, The All Night Library

 

Praise for Night’s Knights:

“Fresh, original, and thoroughly entertaining.” ~Mark Eller, Traitor

 

“Emerian brought the Vampire Novel back from the dead.” ~C. E. Dorsett, Shine Like Thunder

 

Available now at Amazon.com in print and eBook

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dusks-Warriors-Nights-Knights-Vampire/dp/1544628803

emz1smallEmerian Rich is an artist, horror host, and author of the vampire series, Night’s Knights. She is the hostess of the internationally acclaimed podcast, HorrorAddicts.net. Under the name Emmy Z. Madrigal, she writes the musical romance series, Sweet Dreams and she’s the Editorial Director for the Bay Area magazine, SEARCH. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

 

 

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

WIP: Chapter 1 of Vamp

I’ve gotten to that point in writing  my new vampire novel where I could really use a nudge.  Anybody want to peek at Chapter 1?

Chapter 1

Rosalie left work at midnight.  Rain was blowing in gusts down the sidewalk.  Within a block, her umbrella was broken, and her flimsy excuse for a raincoat was useless.  By the time she ducked down the steps into the subway tunnel, she was soaked and shivering all over.  You can’t get sick, she told herself, hurrying through the deserted station toward her train from Manhattan to the Bronx.  If you get sick, Gladys will kill you.

For a few heady moments, she thought her luck had changed.  Her train wasn’t in yet, but the platform was deserted. But just as she heard the train approaching, there he was, the Masher, reeling out from behind a column like a killer gorilla in a nickelodeon short.  “Evening, girly,” he said, tipping his hat and giving her the leer she saw in her nightmares.  “Nice weather, ain’t it?”

“Hello.”  She had learned months ago that refusing to speak to him just made it worse, less than a week after she’d started this rotten job.  The train stopped, and she stepped aboard, catching hold of one of the handles just inside the door.  The car was empty, but he caught the handle just behind her, giggling like a schoolgirl.  Sitting down made it worse, too.  One night he had gotten her cornered; she had ridden all the way to the Bronx with his fat, smelly bulk pressed against her.  She thought about the dry fountain pen tucked in her purse.  One night I’ll have to do it, she thought.  One night I’ll have to stab him to get away, and it better be in the eye because the arm won’t even slow him down.

Just as the train was pulling out of the station, a second man came in from the next car.  No one could have been less like the Masher.  He was young and handsome with dark wavy hair and an impeccable black tuxedo.  His tie was undone and his overcoat and vest were both open as if he’d just come from someplace wonderful.  He was carrying a folded black umbrella like it was a dancer’s cane and a folded newspaper under his arm.  He was as graceful as a danger, too, moving down the rocking subway car with barely a sway.  He smiled and nodded to Rosalie in a gentlemanly way, and she saw he had perfectly even white teeth with slightly pointed canines, a touch of the cruel male animal behind a mouth as sensuous as any woman’s.  He sat down in a seat opposite her and the Masher, set down his umbrella, opened his paper, and began to read.

“Say, girly, tell me again,” the Masher said.  “What are you doing out so late, anyway?”

“I have a job as a telephone operator,” she said, turning away from both men to stare out the window dim, streaming light of the tunnel.  “I work at night.”

“Now that’s a shame.”  He swayed closer with the motion of the train, and she smelled his beer-rancid breath.  “That is a goddamned shame.  Pretty girl like you working nights.  What is that husband of yours thinking, anyhow?”

“I . . .”  For the hundredth time, she had to stop herself from telling him she didn’t have a husband.  Lies came hard to her.  “I’d rather not discuss it.”

“Oh, you’d rather not?” he said, mocking her inflection.  “You’d rather not?  You get that smart mouth with your boyfriend, girly?”  They were approaching a tunnel with no lights, and she began to tremble with more than the cold.  She had hoped the presence of the other man in the car might keep him in line a bit, but it seemed to have made him bolder and angrier, as if he enjoyed having an audience.  “Maybe he ought to smak you around and teach you better manners.”  The pitch black darkness was almost on them.  She turned and saw him wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Excuse me.”  With no warning, the man from across the car was suddenly beside them.  His pale face and white teeth almost glowed in the sudden gloom.  Both the Masher and Rosalie gasped, and Rosalie staggered, letting go of the handle.  The stranger caught her easily, one arm around her waist for barely a moment as he lowered her into a seat.  The car emerged into gloomy light again, and she saw he was smiling.  “Are you all right?” he asked her.  He had beautiful brown eyes.

“She’s fine,” the Masher blustered.  “What’s the matter with you?”

A look of disgust came over the stranger’s face.  “Don’t speak,” he said, turning to the Masher.  “Don’t look at her.”  He was backing the fat man away from her, back toward the door at the end of the car.  “Don’t breathe your foul stink on her or look at her or even think about her.”  Their gazes were locked, and even though the Masher was just as tall as the stranger and outweighed him by half as much again, he looked deathly sick with fear.  “You think she doesn’et know what you think about  her, pig?”  She couldn’t see the stranger’s face any more, just his back.  The Masher’s piggy little eyes had gone flat, and his mouth worked like a baby’s working up to a scream.  “You think I don’t know?”  He thumped the Masher in the chest, and he fell back with a shriek.

“I’m sorry,” he said, almost weeping.  “I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t look at her ever again.” The Masher was nodding.  “Don’t think about her.”  The stranger had stopped moving, but the Masher continued to back away, stumbling, tripping over his own feet.  “If your filthy little brain dares to touch her again, your piggy little heart will explode.”

The Masher shot one final desperate look at Rosalie, then screamed, clutching his chest.  Rosalie reached into her purse as the Masher turned and staggered through the door out of the car.  She could hear him still screaming as he passed out of sight.

Her hands were shaking so badly she could barely take hold of the fountain pen.  Then the stranger turned around . . . and looked like the same perfectly pleasant young man who had first come into the car.  “Are you all right?” he asked her again.

“Yes.”  The train was slowing, pulling into her station.  “Yes, I’m fine.”

“Very good.”  With a nod, he retrieved his newspaper and his umbrella.  “I don’t think he’ll be giving you any more trouble.”

“No.”  She could see nothing about him that the Masher should have found so frightening.  When he’d been threatening him, there had been something terrible about his voice that had frightened her, too.  But now, facing his smile, she couldn’t remember why.  “Thank you.”

“Not at all.”  He tucked his newspaper under his arm as the train pulled to a stop.  “Will you be all right now?” She thought she detected a slight Irish lilt in his smart Park Avenue accent.  “May I walk you home?”

“No, thank you.  I’m sure I’ll be fine.”  She thought about taking him home to Gladys’ kitchen and didn’t know if she should laugh or cry.  “I have to stop off at the drugstore.”

“If you’re sure.”  He put a hand on the subway door to hold it open as she passed.  “Good night.”

She smiled, ducking her head.  “Good  night.”

———————————————————————————–

            Mike watched the pretty girl hurry toward the stairs to the street.  Poor kitten . . . how did the sweet ones like her ever manage to survive long enough to lose their looks?  He watched until her shapely little calves in their ugly brown stockings disappeared up the stairs.

He took the dirty handkerchief he’d stolen from the brute out of his pocket and sniffed it.  A cloying little whiff of verbena under the general stench.  Betcha he lived with his ma.  With a last rueful look at the stairs where the girl had disappeared, he stepped back onto the train.

The brute had made it through three cars before he had collapsed.  He was lolled back in a corner seat, his collar undone, an open silver flask clutched in his fist.  “Hiya, Piggy,” Mike said.  “Got a match?”

The mortal’s eyes snapped open.  “No.”  His face contorted with terror as he tried to scramble to his feet.  “You let me go.  I ain’t thought about that little bitch, not once!”

Mike smiled, letting his fangs extend to full.  “Little bitch?”

“I’m sorry!  Jesus Christ, I didn’t mean it!”  He was like a turtle trapped on its back, arms and legs flailing in vain.

“Don’t blaspheme to me, you worthless sack of filth.”  He grabbeed the brute by his lapels and yanked him to his feet.  “You meant to rape that innocent girl.”

“No—“

“If she’d fought you, you might even have killed her.”

“I wouldn’t!”

“Don’t lie to me!”  He had seen into this creature’s piggy little mind as soon as he’d stepped onto the subway train, seen his plans writhing like maggots in his head.  “But it’s going to be okay, Walter,” he said, picking the name from the creature’s thoughts.  “I’m going to save you from yourself.”  He clamped his fangs on the brute’s thick neck like biting down into an apple.  His brain was rotten, but his blood was sweet, and the vampire took every drop.

End of Chapter 1

Fresh Blood: VWSG Anthology Vol. 1

Psssssttt!!!! Wanna read 13 AMAZING vampire stories? Wanna get the e-book REALLY CHEAP?!?! From now through Halloween, Smashwords has the Vampire Writers Support Group’s very first anthology, Fresh Blood, on deep discount. All kinds of vamps, romance to pure horror, from some of the very best writers I know – including me. 🙂 From Smashwords copy

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!

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 . . . .

Angelique

Another tasty morsel from Tender Bites, coming this weekend from Amazon.  This is the only first-person story in the batch, told from the point of view of Amadeo, the hunky vampire in question.  He goes to Paris during the Terror to do murder in the streets and ends up discovering his soulmate . . .

Angelique

Paris 1792

 

Chaos breeds vampires as a plague breeds rats; one feeds off the other so efficiently that matters of cause and effect become mere questions of philosophy.  Commit enough mortals to the cause of carnage, and the vampires simply appear; like the rat, we cannot choose but to respond.  And rarely had rats and vampires alike smelled such a feast as could be nosed in the madness of Paris after La Revolution. 

I hadn’t intended to partake.  I had entered one of those tiresome stages in a vampire’s eternity when the whole world seemed a pointless cesspool.  Born in the cruel savagery of the ancient world, I had watched the progress of civilization make art of madness, order from chaos, grace from the random superstition of human faith.  But over the course of the last century, I had seen this beautiful new world ripped apart brick by brick by its so-called great minds.  I was not a fan of revolution, even in the name of justice.  What is justice to a predator?  Paris had once been the jewel of the world, the center of learning and culture, my favorite spot on earth, more dear to me even than Venice or Rome.  Now the streets ran with offal, and great stinking apes more thirsty for blood than any vampire held sway.  But my friends insisted the hunting was too good to resist, and so I came.  And it was there that I met my Angelique.

Angelique Dumont was the daughter of two of the most pinched-nose blue bloods in France.  On the night I first saw her, she already wore a red ribbon at her throat in bitter remembrance of a father and two brothers sent to the guillotine.  She, her mother, and a single plump cherub of a sister were defiantly established in a flat within sight of the palace of Tuileries.  Like most of what remained of the aristocracy, she passed her days making desperate plans to escape to England with the family fortune and her nights in desperate gaiety, pretending flight was the furthest thing from her mind.

The ballroom at the city palace was not so grand as the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, but it was dazzling nonetheless, lit by hundreds of flickering candles and packed from wall to wall.  So when the painted doll of a girl stumbled out into the midnight garden, her green eyes were as blind as an infant’s.  “Merde,” she swore, tripping on the hem of her gold-embroidered skirt as she dove gracelessly for the support of a nearby column.  Glancing back over her shoulder toward the ball, she didn’t see me in the shadows.  I watched in amusement, arms folded on my chest, as this delicate blossom of the uppermost crust vomited into a hedge.

“Too much wine, mam’selle?” I inquired politely, offering her my handkerchief.

She screamed another oath and straightened up so quickly her heavy powdered wig slipped precariously to one side.  But she collected herself quickly, giving her head a slight jerk that caused the wig to right itself as if by magic.  “Pardonnez-moi, monsieur,” she said as she turned around, smiling prettily. 

Then she saw my less-than-glittering attire.  The men she was accustomed to meeting in gardens wore jewel-encrusted silks and gold-embroidered velvet.  I would sooner have had a stake carved from the True Cross driven through my heart.  I was wearing leather and a servant’s broadcloth coat with my own hair pulled back in a simple ribbon.  I wouldn’t even pass for a footman.  “How did you get in here?” she grumbled, snatching the handkerchief from my hand and spitting the last of the sourness from her mouth into its plain linen folds.  “Go back to the stables where you belong.”

“Your gratitude warms my heart.”  Truth be told, her snobbery made me adore her at first sight.  She was all I could wish in a quarry, sleek and impudent as a vixen.  “No wonder votre famille is beloved by all in Paris.”

The color rose in her cheeks luridly enough to show pink through the heavy powder.  She raised her little hand to slap me, and I smiled, knowing when she struck me, I would take her.

But she did not strike.  “A thousand apologies, Monsieur Stableman,” she said, making a deep, graceful curtsey that must have been the envy of every royal ass-licker at court.  “I thank you for your kindness.”  She rose and turned away, leading me deeper into the garden, the last thing I expected.  And the one thing I have never been able to resist is a surprise.