Category Archives: Paranormal
About Jaime McDougall
Jaime McDougall is a citizen of the world, currently loving life in beautiful country Victoria in Australia. She loves eating sushi, kidnapping her husband and naming her pets in honour of science fiction authors.
She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: High School: The Real Deal and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles. So You Want to Write a Guest Post: An Author’s Guide to Promoting with Guest Blogging is her most recent non-fiction ebook. She has also enjoyed writing a column called ‘The New Australian’ in local newspapers as well as various articles online.
Echo Falls is her first paranormal romance novel. You can buy it now at:
You can visit her website at InkyBlots.com
About Echo Falls
Running from a nightmare stalking her every move, Phoebe Martin arrives in Echo Falls hoping she has finally found a safe place to stop. But trouble has a way of catching up and soon the signs are there.
After a vicious attack in an alley, policeman Aidan O’Bryan is left with Phoebe as his only path to understanding why the Echo Falls werewolf pack – his pack – is being attacked. When another pack member is killed, Phoebe is forced to confront her past before she loses Aidan and everything she has come to love.
Love and duty become one as Aidan strives to prevent Phoebe from becoming the next victim. But with Phoebe just as determined to protect Aidan and her new home, secrets from her past threaten to tear them apart.
Will love give Phoebe the strength to trust Aidan and face her fears, or will her past destroy her future?
Read an Excerpt
How many steps can there be?
She should know. She lived in this apartment building.
Tears ran down her cheeks and her lungs burned for air. Only the random irrational thought broke through the panic keeping her feet moving down the steps. Keep running. Keep running. The light of the emergency exit came into view. Almost there…
The door to the stairwell slammed open with a hollow boom. She tripped and clung to the railing to steady herself.
The shock of the cool night air sent a shiver of relief through her body. She’d come out a side exit into an alley. If she could just get to the front –
Suddenly she was thrown to the ground from behind. She hit the concrete, what little breath she had knocked from her lungs. Blood began flowing from where her head hit the ground, and small sparks of light floated into her vision.
How did he catch up so fast?
Desperately she tried to gulp down as much air as she could, willing her lungs to cooperate. Instinct kicked in as the attacker slashed at her, and she curled into fetal position.
A dog. He’d turned into a dog. A big dog with vicious claws and teeth he used to tear into her exposed back, thigh and shoulder. She slowly regained her breath but could only use it to scream her throat raw.
Her vision faded, taking the small sparks of light with it. Searing pain ripped through her shoulder as a claw dug down against her bone. One last, long scream tore from her lungs before she was left gasping and sobbing, her fear slowly smoldering into rage.
Things can’t end like this.
She opened her eyes as the dog stood over her, trying to get to her throat. A paw came into her line of vision and she saw her chance. She reached out, grabbed it and squeezed with all the strength she had.
The dog yelped and tried to twist away, but she held on with all the strength she had. She knew she’d only bought herself time. She couldn’t move the dog off her and she couldn’t squeeze his paw all night. He tried uselessly to bite her, his jaws having no strength so long as she squeezed his paw. But she could already feel her strength waning.
Suddenly the weight of the dog flew off her, taking the paw out of her grip. Without thinking, she used her one cooperating arm to drag herself toward the front of the building.
She shivered, her arm giving out, and caught a glimpse of a second dog. No. A wolf… Squeezing her eyes tightly shut, she listened to the dogs fighting, the battle just a few steps away. She tried her best to curl up against the building wall and willed the growling and snapping to go away. They sounded like they were tearing each other to pieces.
The universe granted her wish, the battle ending with the sound of two bodies hitting each other and a sharp whine. She shivered and softly whined as well, dreading the approach of the winner as one of the dogs yelped and ran away.
A few moments later warm, human hand brushed the back of her head and she screamed again. If it could be called a scream. Her throat burned and rebelled at her abuse of it.
“Ssh. You’re safe now.”
She tried to scream again and move away, but her body wouldn’t obey her commands. She groaned as the full force of the pain washed over her.
He murmured and she relaxed her desperate grip on staying conscious. Sleep seemed so tempting, the black abyss singing a siren’s song to her. Her rescuer – or captor – tried to soothe her, but something dark and dangerous in his voice betrayed him. He was different. She tried to bat away his hands but gave up after a few attempts, not sure if her good hand was actually moving.
As she slipped into the darkness, she wondered if death had merely granted her a short reprieve from the inevitable.
Join Dianne Hartsock, author of the paranormal/ suspense novel, Alex (Solstice Publishing, July 2011), as she virtually tours the blogosphere from December 5 – 16, 2011 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!
About Dianne Hartsock
Dianne Hartsock lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play.
She says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write her tales. There’s something about being cooped up in the house while it pours rain outside and a fire crackles on the hearth inside that kindles her imagination.
The intricate and fragile nature of the mind is always fascinating. Having worked with the public through various careers, Dianne has come to respect the resilience and strength of the human spirit. She’s always trying to capture that spirit in her writing.
Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop, which she says is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.
Dianne’s books include Trials of a Lonely Specter and Alex.
You can visit Dianne Hartsock at: http://diannehartsocksalex.wordpress.com/.
Alex is twenty and confused. He always is. The world presses on him with its horrors and pain, with scintillating auras that pierce his eyes and drive the migraines deeper. He hears the cries of children, the screaming women. He sees the brutal images of the tortured victims. He feels out of control and his mind slips…
Severely abused as a child, he is left with horrible scars on his body and even worse scars within his mind. Even though it puts him in danger, he’s compelled to help those who call to him. He’s driven, motivated by his visions to rescue them and uncover the killer. When he can, he helps the police; yet some detectives suspect he’s the cause of the problem, not the solution. Often, Alex finds himself alone and afraid in a world he doesn’t understand.
Read an excerpt!
Her skin was soft under his fingertips. Her bare shoulders, the curve of muscle in her arms, her slim fingers; all so soft. Her breath caressed his cheek as he stared at her lips. He wanted to kiss her. It was a risk, he knew, but he ached for someone to break the loneliness. He bent his head and ran his tongue tentatively over the sweet fullness of her mouth. Her tongue met his but he was unprepared for the fire that tore through him. She pressed against him to deepen the kiss and a wild madness surged through his blood.
Something was wrong. She cried out as she struggled in his arms. Her nails raked across his neck. He let her go and watched in bewilderment as she scrambled away, her breath coming in sharp gasps. He reached out a tentative hand, wanting to explain—apologize, but she stepped hastily away from him.
“Freak!” she spat and quickly fled.
He jerked as the word struck him, his arm dropping to his side. The pain of her rejection flooded him. He touched his mouth and wondered desperately what she’d seen as he’d kissed her.
She stopped at the end of the bridge and looked over her shoulder. He couldn’t make out her expression, but he hoped to God it wasn’t pity. He took a hesitant step toward her but she tore her eyes away and rushed off.
He watched her follow the road back to town, hurrying as the sun sank. The far side of the road was already lost in darkness. His shoulders slumped in defeat when she disappeared into the gloom.
Dejected, he sat on the edge of the bridge and dangled his feet over the swift current. The sound of the rushing water echoed under him, filling his ears. It dulled the edge of his pain, making him forget his humiliation as he listened. He could almost make out a voice in the resonance.
* * * *
Jane felt the loneliness of the country lane as the shadows crept up from the ditch. The only other soul on the road was a girl hiking in the opposite direction. She recognized Sarah Gladstone, one of the girls Alex worked with, and waved as they passed each other. The uneasiness at the approaching dark kept her from stopping to talk.
She frowned as she hurried on, wondering if the girl had been up at the house. She’d noticed Alex talking to her after work recently. Her lips thinned, not liking the idea of him bringing girlfriends home when she wasn’t there. Not that it was her business.
Disgusted with where her thoughts were headed, she pushed them away and broke into a trot. The two miles had been a pleasant walk in the morning but, as the light faded, she regretted not taking the car into town. She’d forgotten it would start to grow dark before she reached the house and she didn’t like to walk alone at night.
Relief flooded her when she reached the bridge. It was only another quarter of a mile until she was home. Her brisk steps slowed as she spotted someone else on the bridge. She suddenly remembered the news report she’d heard that morning and stopped, a spurt of fear running down her spine. The person was sitting with his back to her, watching the water. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t dangerous. Women had gone missing from the Fort Collins area. What if this …?
She jumped when the person raised his head and then she laughed in sudden relief. She’d recognize that profile anywhere. She’d studied it for years, hoping to understand the complexities of the mind behind it.
Slowly, she approached Alex, trying to read his mood. Concern quickly replaced her apprehension. Something had upset him. He always ran his hands through his hair when he was disturbed and she could see it was a tangled mess on his forehead.
She sat beside him and swung her legs over the stream. “Are you coming home?”
As fond as she was of her adopted brother, it would be the last straw in a trying day if she had to argue with him. Especially over some flighty girl.
But he didn’t answer, and she leaned forward to look at his face. His blue eyes focused vacantly on the water as it slid under his feet. From his distant stare, she knew he was going to have a troubled night.
She laid a hand on his arm. “Alex?”
“There’s a boy in the water,” he murmured. His words were slurred, dreamlike.
She sat quietly and watched the moving stream. “There’s no one there,” she said after a moment.
Doubt crept over his face and he shrugged his slim shoulders. “I hear him.”
He leaned farther out and tried to look under the bridge. She grabbed the back of his shirt to prevent him falling in.
“He wants me with him. He’s scared.”
She shuddered at the all too familiar slur in his voice that warned her his thoughts were miles away. She’d learned long ago not to ignore it. The times in the past that she had, he’d grown frantic and uncontrollable. He’d hurt himself, acting on some image in his mind.
Abruptly, she pulled him to his feet, knowing she’d have to be harsh to catch his attention. She changed her tone, as if speaking to an errant child. “It’s time to go home. Come on.”
He didn’t seem to hear her as he swayed on the edge of the bridge. For one terrifying second, she thought he was going to tumble in. He could swim but she wasn’t sure if he would.
“Alex!” She jerked him roughly to face her. They stood eye to eye, both of them the same medium height. Many people mistook them for fraternal twins. They both had black hair, blue eyes, and slender bodies. Yet, she was always disconcerted by the intense blue of his eyes whenever they stood so close. They were the color of the evening sky; hers had a more greenish cast to them.
“Janie?” he said in bewilderment.
His baffled tone reassured her. It meant he was coming back from whatever strange place his mind had wandered off to. His eyes blinked and refocused. Her heart skipped a beat as the Alex she knew smiled meekly at her. She was suddenly aware of how close they were standing, and pressed a hand to her fluttering stomach when she felt his breath on her cheek.
“I’m sorry; I must have been dozing.”
She grimaced as he quickly averted his face. It was a blatant lie and she knew it. Hiding it from showing in his eyes was his way of trying to protect her. He did it all the time. But she’d much rather he let her into his world, however divergent it was.
She slipped her arm through his and turned in the direction of home. “Never mind. Are you ready for dinner?”
He hesitated, looking at the black water. She tugged a little harder and he didn’t resist. Glancing back herself, she drew him gently away.
* * * *
Late in the night, she heard the stifled groans she’d expected since the episode on the bridge. She drew on her sweatpants and shuffled down the hall. As a precaution, she’d kept the stove light on in the kitchen, and it spilled across the dark living room. With a troubled sigh, she retrieved a damp cloth from the refrigerator and padded back to Alex’s room at the end of the hall.
She knew better than to call him, so she gently tapped on the door instead. Knowing a light would be like a sword through his skull, she tried to find the bed in the dark. She stumbled over clothes and books strewn across the floor and swore. She would think, at the age of twenty, he would be able to keep his room presentable.
Her eyes adjusted to the dark and found him curled up on the sheets, his face pressed against the mattress. He had a pillow clutched tightly over his head in an effort to keep out all sensory stimuli.
She set the cloth on a nightstand. “Hush. It’s just me.” She ran her fingers up his spine and pressed her thumbs into the stiff muscles between his shoulder blades. The knots loosened as she kneaded his tense skin, and she silently thanked the nurse who’d shown her the technique years ago. Alex’s migraines had grown so severe that a specialist had been called, but it was the daily nurse who’d taught her how to care for him.
In a few minutes, the tension drained from his body, and she was able to push him onto his back. She took the pillow from his face, but he threw an arm over his eyes.
She pulled his arm away and placed the cloth over his brow. His hair was damp with sweat and his lips were white. His breath came in sharp gasps through tightly gritted teeth.
He put his hand over hers and pressed the cloth to his eyes. The gesture was intensely intimate, sending a shock through her. The warmth of his skin traveled up her arm and heated her body.
“Did you forget your pills?” she asked unsteadily, and he nodded under her hand. She wasn’t surprised. He was always leaving them somewhere or forgetting to take them, even when they both knew a migraine was coming.
She settled on the edge of the bed and gently stroked his hair. Her heart ached for his suffering, and she marveled at the strength that got him out of bed every morning, not knowing when the pain would strike him next.
He moaned, and she impulsively kissed his glistening forehead. She murmured comforting words in his ear, and for just an instant, allowed herself the pleasure of feeling his body against hers. His breathing became more relaxed as the worst of the pain passed, and she drew away from him.
“Can you sleep now?”
He gave her hand a gentle squeeze. She knew speech was beyond him at the moment, so she simply brushed her fingers over his cheek. She fought the sudden urge to lie down beside him and hold him in her arms. There’d been many nights she’d sat with him, and all those nights their father had done the same.
She panicked at the thought that life would never change. If she gave in to the emotions she unwillingly felt, neither she nor Alex would be able to move on. She’d promised herself long ago to start a new life once he no longer needed her care. She couldn’t do that if she let her emotions get the better of her.
She brushed impatiently at her eyes and left him to fight the rest of his battle alone.
Read the reviews!
“I enjoy the way our author carefully lays down her words and shows us descriptively where we are headed in this story, yet only a few footsteps at a time. If I had to put a one word name to this read, I’d call it WORTHY. As a storyteller myself, I was easily drawn into the lives that were coming alive to my mind. It left me wanting more and I anticipated turning the page to discover what would happen next! ”
–Don Ford, CNY Artists, Crafters, and Creators
Giveaways, Contests & Prizes!
In celebration of Dianne Hartsock’s release of Alex, she will be appearing at Pump Up Your Book’s 1st Annual Holiday Extravaganza Facebook Party on December 16. More than 50 books, gifts and cash awards will be given away including an e- copy of Alex! Visit the official party page here!
Alex Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule
Monday, December 5th
Interviewed at The Hot Author Report
Tuesday, December 6th
Interviewed at The Book Connection
Book excerpt featured at Between the Covers
Wednesday, December 7th
Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book
Thursday, December 8th
Book spotlighted at The Plot
Friday, December 9th
Character interviewed at The Plot
Monday, December 12th
Guest blogging at Café of Dreams
Tuesday, December 13th
Book reviewed at Mad Moose Mama
Interviewed at Blogcritics
Wednesday, December 14th
Guest blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner
Interviewed at Coffee and a Keyboard
Thursday, December 15th
Interviewed and book reviewed at Joel Andre’s blog
Friday, December 16th
Book reviewed at Woven Myst
Dianne Hartsock’s ALEX VIRTUAL BOOK PUBLICITY TOUR will officially begin on December 5 2011 and end on December 16, 2011. UPDATE: This tour is now full. Thank you!
Kendra used to spend her days organizing events for Café Enigma while daydreaming about Marcus, the sexy lead singer of Normal Paradox. But all those dreams of becoming Mrs. Rock Star died, along with her mortality, the moment Hector entered her life and turned her into a vampire.
Ten torturous years later, Kendra finally escapes Hector and runs straight into Marcus. (Well, actually, he hit her with his car, but that’s beside the point.) The accident leaves Marcus concussed and a few pints too low, forcing Kendra to share her blood to save him.
Sharing her blood doesn’t just heal Marcus’s wounds; it bonds him to Kendra in a magical “can’t live without you” sort of way. Now he’s professing his undying love to her, and Kendra’s not sure if he’s for real or just experiencing the side effects of their new blood bond. Either way, the two of them can’t be separated without suffering suicidal levels of depression, and the band needs to hit the road for the rest of their cross-country tour.
Kendra’s content to travel with the band and explore her new-found relationship, until whispered threats from her master, Hector, start invading her dreams. He’s tracking her down, and she can feel it. She knows the horrors he’s capable of, and if he finds out about Marcus, Hector will do everything in his power to destroy him.
If she stays, Marcus is doomed to Hector’s wrath. If she goes, the repercussions of their bond might kill Marcus. Both options will break Kendra’s heart. If they’re truly meant for each other, they’ll have to find another way….
About Katie Salidas
Katie Salidas is a Super Woman! Endowed with special powers and abilities, beyond those of mortal women, she can get the munchkin off to gymnastics, cheerleading, Girl Scouts, and swim lessons. She can put hot food on the table for dinner while assisting with homework, baths, and bedtime… And, She still finds the time to keep the hubby happy (nudge nudge wink wink). She can do all of this and still have time to write.
And if you can believe all of those lies, there is some beautiful swamp land in Florida for sale…
Katie Salidas resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mother, wife, and author, she does try to do it all, often causing sleep deprivation and many nights passed out at the computer. Writing books is her passion, and she hopes that her passion will bring you hours of entertainment.
Toni Tutoro just wants to go home. Banned from Chicago’s vampiric society after cutting a swath of violence through the city, she must now successfully complete an investigation for the Lord of Chicago to regain the right to live in her hometown again.
To ensure Toni’s safety during her probationary period, Drake Black, a feared assassin, is secretly contracted to protect her. Even with direct orders to keep his relationship professional, and his own personal vow to never get involved with a female vampire again, Drake finds himself drawn to Toni in ways he can’t explain. But unbeknownst to him, he’s tied to one of the people who drove Toni to her night of destruction.
Drake’s legendary heritage holds the key to Toni’s survival and success, but will she be able to forgive his connection to the brutal night that robbed her of those she loved most? Will Drake be able to forget the betrayals in his past and risk taking one more chance? But most of all, can they find a way to reach each other in the darkness?
Read an Excerpt
Every muscle Toni owned tensed as she stared up into the angry eyes of Lord Christian Locke, Mr. Fancy Pants himself, right there…in the flesh. She silently cursed her horrible luck as he deftly stepped around Drake and moved to stand directly in front of her.
For the second time that night, she shifted between her feet as a pair of veiled blue eyes bored into her. But unlike Drake’s, Christian’s eyes weren’t filled with sadness and pain – his were as cold and calculating as she remembered. And if anything else lurked somewhere deep behind them, anything at all, she either couldn’t see it or didn’t know how to recognize the emotions.
What she hoped was inside him somewhere was compassion and warmth. She wanted to believe that behind those frigid blue eyes and kingly demeanor was a good man, who just did everything he could to hide his true feelings from the world.
That’s what she wanted to believe – but that didn’t mean it was true.
She’d been burned enough times to know that what you wanted to believe was inside someone, and what was truly there…were sometimes two very different things.
Silence stung the air for what felt like an hour before he finally opened his mouth. “Miss Tutoro, I’m so happy to see you’ve made it back to our fair city unharmed. Please, enlighten me as to why you’ve come home. I’m absolutely dying to know.” His smooth English accent made him sound every bit as snotty as he looked.
Feeling forced to defend herself in a way she wasn’t prepared for; Toni returned his sarcasm with a dash of her own. “As always, Christian, you’re looking lovely this evening. Did Armani make that suit especially for you? It’s simply ravishing,” she quipped, trying to mimic his accent.
It didn’t mix well with the Spanish hint she already had.
She tried not to smile when she heard Drake snort, but she couldn’t help it. She knew she should be nice, knew Christian Locke held everything she wanted in his fancy little manicured hands, but something about the smug, holier-than-thou look on his face just screamed for her to do everything in her power to annoy him.
“Do you find my suit unacceptable?” His sharp tone practically dared her to respond.
“Well, since you asked,” she said as she took a step back and gave him an obvious once over, “you might wanna tell him to keep his eye on the scissors. Your right sleeve looks a tad longer than your left.”
He didn’t react. Instead, he continued to stare at her with glaring disinterest. She thought she remembered how unsettling that stare was, but she was wrong. It made her feel icky all the way down to her toes this time. Last time it was only to her knees.
But she just…couldn’t…stop. “Oh wait, that’s right.” She waved a hand at him. “It’s all coming back to me now. It’s you that’s off. Your right arm’s just a little longer than your left, isn’t it?” She blew out a sigh then offered him her most sympathetic smile. “We can’t all be perfect, can we?”
“Miss Tutoro, it would seem to me if one was seeking solace in a city they’d already been thrown out of once, one would adopt a little more humble attitude. Wouldn’t you agree?” The new, much darker edge to his voice sent fear tap dancing down her spine.
Toni sucked in a deep breath and slowly nodded. He was right. He was the only one who could give her permission to stay in Chicago, and here she was, treating him like crap.
She looked back up at him, hoping he could hear the truth in every word she was about to say. “I just wanted to come home, Christian. I’ve been driving around the country, trying to find a place that feels right. I’ve been in more cities than I can count, and I still haven’t found one that feels like home.” She struggled to keep her voice steady. “I’m not here to cause trouble, I swear. I just wanna see faces that actually smile at me again. I wanna sleep a full day without nightmares.” She turned away when she lost the battle against her tears.
How could she explain what Chicago meant to her? How much she needed to be home?
After a few moments passed, Toni wiped her cheeks and cleared her throat. She had to make him understand. But as she turned to face him again, a feeling of doom settled deep into the pit of her stomach.
He seemed to be watching her with an odd, detached curiosity.
Wanting desperately to believe she could reach him, she forced herself to continue. “This city stays with me wherever I go. I was born here, and for every awful memory I have here, there are still fifty good ones.” She lowered her eyes when his face didn’t change. “I don’t know what I was thinking…you wouldn’t understand.”
“Have you secured yourself a place to stay? I know you haven’t purchased any homes or leased an apartment. There are also no reservations for you or any of your aliases at any hotel in the city.”
Toni surrendered with a spiteful laugh. He hadn’t changed at all. “No, Christian, I haven’t broken your rules by making any permanent arrangements. I have my car. That’s it.” She narrowed her eyes when a look of pure amusement swept across his face, instantly churning her doomed feeling into seething anger. “Look, if you’re gonna throw me out or kill me, could you get on with it already? It’s getting late and I don’t have much time to run before the sun comes up. You’re at least gonna be a good sport about this, right?”
His sharp features took on the texture of concrete. “I will arrange for you to stay in a suite at my hotel. When you arrive in the lobby, give the desk clerk your name and he’ll take care of your needs.” One of his brows rose slightly as his eyes moved over her. “I’ll also have him make a few calls in order to procure you an article of clothing more befitting a woman. I expect you dressed appropriately when you arrive at my office tomorrow evening, where we’ll finish discussing your official request to stay in my city. Be there at Midnight, not a second later.”
It took everything Toni had not to look down at the sidewalk to see if her jaw had landed on one of his expensive Italian shoes. What did he say? Was she still sleeping?
Was she really in Chicago?
She barely registered the weight lift from her body as Christian’s gaze shifted up to Drake, who at some point during the conversation had moved to stand behind her.
“Mr. Black, it’s a pleasure as always,” he said as he extended a hand, which Drake easily accepted. “Since it would appear my Head of Enforcement felt so comfortable leaving Miss Tutoro in your capable hands, you’ll understand if I ask that you remain with her for now. Unfortunately, I have it on good authority that once Brick and 8-Ball finish sanitizing the scene on Rush Street, they’re going to find themselves otherwise occupied for a time.”
Toni stiffened at his words. “Christian, please don’t hurt them. I’m the one who called 8-Ball. He warned me not to come, but I didn’t listen. If you’re gonna punish someone, punish me. It’s my fault. They don’t deserve to get…” Her words faded into mumbles as Drake’s big hand clamped tight over her mouth.
“I’ll stay with her, Lord Locke. It’s not a problem.”
When the monster inside her thrashed and growled, Toni committed to the only action that blind instinct would allow – she sank her teeth into one of Drake’s meaty fingers.
“Ouch!” He ripped is hand away from her mouth. “I can’t believe you just fucking bit me! I should’ve known better.”
She whipped around to face him and jammed a finger into his chest. “Don’t you ever try to silence me again! Brick and 8-Ball are my friends, and I don’t wanna see anything happen to them. And I’d rather be put in the sun for five seconds because I said too much, than stand here knowing they might end up with some punishment they don’t deserve. I don’t even know you that well, but if Christian tried to pin you as an accessory to this whole, awful situation just because you’re standing here with me, I’d do the same for you!”
He couldn’t have looked any more shocked if she’d hoisted her leg up and kicked him in the junk. “You’d endure a Trial By Sun, for me? Lady, you don’t even know me.”
“I may not know you, but so far all you’ve tried to do is help.” She withdrew her hand. “You didn’t have to offer to stay with me so 8-Ball could go with Brick, but you did, and I appreciate that. It means a lot more to me than you’ll ever know.” She turned away from him as the stupid tears she’d been fighting all night welled up yet again. “I’d do anything for my friends. So just keep your big hands away from my mouth and we should be fine.”
Toni drew a deep breath in an attempt to pull her scrambled emotions together, then eyed Christian, who had a smile she could only describe as evil stretched all the way across his face. “What the hell are you smiling at now?”
He actually laughed at her. “Nothing, Miss Tutoro. Nothing at all.”
She fisted her hands. “Please, just promise me you won’t hurt them.”
“I have absolutely no intention of hurting them. After all, it does me no good if my Enforcement Team is out of commission.” If it was possible, his smile turned even more malicious at the edges. “However, I’m sure they’ll wish I had offered a physical punishment by the time I finish speaking with them about the disrespectful practice of keeping secrets from their Lord. If I remember correctly, don’t those of the Warrior lineage just love a good, long lecture?”
When Drake’s loud laughter boomed behind her, Toni had to smile. If there was one punishment she knew 8-Ball hated, it was some Trump giving him the verbal what-for. He’d always complained that Trumps had a bad habit of using words bigger than their egos, which as far as he could tell, no board room could hold without serious structural damage.
Not that 8-Ball was really one to talk when it came to huge egos, but she’d gladly take him and Brick being on the business end of a lecture over the possible alternatives any day.
“Now, Miss Tutoro, if you would kindly excuse me, I have other pressing business this evening. And please, do find yourself a coat. It’s far too cold to be out in the city without one. Actions as such make the humans look twice.” He gave a curt nod before he turned and walked back to his car. “Oh, and Mr. Black,” he called as he slid into the backseat, “please see to it that your charge arrives at my hotel within the hour.” He’d no more than finished his request before the door closed and his car was gone.
Toni watched as the glowing red taillights of the Lord of Chicago’s white Mercedes quickly faded in the distance. What the hell had just happened?
You’ve entered the Twilight Zone, that’s what just happened. She nodded in response to the voice in her mind. The last courtesy she’d expected when Locke had stepped out of his car was the offer of a meeting and a suite at his hotel. A swift kick in the behind and a warning to be out before sunrise, most definitely, especially since that was the response she’d gotten from the Lords of other cities as soon as she told them her name. But a warm place to stay without the threat of being hunted by the Enforcement Team…not even close.
Now, if she could only keep her mouth under control at the meeting…
She turned and looked up at Drake at the thought. Apparently, the meeting wasn’t the only place she needed to keep her mouth to herself.
She rested a hand on his forearm. “I’m sorry I bit you.”
He wrinkled his nose like a five year old and made a production of rubbing his booboo. “Me, too.”
“Oh, please.” She grabbed the offended hand and pressed a kiss to the wounded finger that had probably healed the second he’d removed it from her mouth. “There. All better.”
He jerked his arm back as though she’d touched him with an open flame. “Don’t do that.” The pain in his eyes deepened right before that invisible curtain slammed back into place. He flashed a smile that wasn’t true. “The last place my fingers need to be is anywhere near your mouth. You’ve already proven you’re a biter.”
Toni mirrored his false smile, even though what she wanted to do was ask why he kept trying to be someone else. But then, she knew all too well what it felt like not to be happy with who you were. She’d felt that way for the last three years, and to this day, she’d give anything to go back to who she was before. Back to a time when her life consisted of more than running to stay alive, back to before one night and a few bad decisions changed everything.
She stared down at his hand. “If I hurt you, Drake, I really am sorry.”
A long moment of silence stretched between them before he asked, “Can I ask you a question?”
She nodded, but couldn’t quite meet his eyes. “Sure.”
“Why do you apologize so much?”
“Because…” She bit at the inside of her bottom lip then cleared her throat. “Because I promised myself a long time ago that I’d never waste a chance to tell someone how I really feel. That I’d never walk away from someone I knew I’d hurt without telling them I was sorry…even if they couldn’t hear me.”
“Well,” he sighed, his voice seemingly filled with the same regret she felt. He rested a warm hand on her shoulder, sending a shiver down her spine. “Even though my finger will probably get all infected now and swell up like a bloated corpse, I want you to know that I’ll probably forgive you someday.” He slid his hand down her arm and squeezed her fingers tight. “But today’s not your day…and tomorrow ain’t lookin’ too good either.”
She ripped her hand away from him when he burst into a loud fit of laughter. “Oh my God!” She grabbed a fistful of his long hair then yanked his face down to her level. “What’s wrong with you? Why would you say something like that to me? What did I ever do to you?”
“Ow, ow, ow. You’re hurting me. Say you’re sorry! Say you’re sorry!”
She tugged hard on his hair again, but this time all she could do was laugh at the exaggerated way he bent at the waist and contorted sideways as his face scrunched up. “You’re just not right.”
He flashed the most beautiful, most genuine smile she’d ever seen. “Yeah, but now you’re laughing.”
She slowly released her hold on his hair, noticing for the first time how soft the dark strands felt as they slipped between her fingers. She couldn’t remember the last time someone had tried to make her laugh. Couldn’t recall, aside from 8-Ball and Brick, the last time she’d been touched by a vampire who wasn’t trying to kill her.
She looked up at Drake, watching the way his eyes seemed to lighten a little more every second he stared back at her, until not even a trace of the sadness remained. Where the darkness had gone or why, she didn’t know, but she’d been alone and unwanted for so long that she wasn’t sure whether to smile because he made her feel so good, or cry because she knew she didn’t deserve it.
You don’t deserve it. Toni swallowed the jagged knot tightening her throat and backed away from the man who had no idea what kind of monster he stood so close to. “We should probably head for Locke’s hotel.” She tucked her hair behind her ears as the frigid wind picked up around them. “When we get there, I’ll see if I can find someone who knows him. Maybe I can get his number and talk him into letting you go. I’m sure you’ve got better things to do than be stuck with someone like me. Someone you don’t even know.”
“Oh. Hell. No.” He folded his arms over his chest while that adorable, lopsided grin from earlier reformed on his lips. “I’m not going to the hotel yet. I’m not moving an inch until you say it.”
She blinked at him. “Say what?”
“Say what?” His mouth gaped open like a suffocating fish. “I want you to say you’re sorry for pulling my hair. I want you to say you’re sorry for almost snapping my spine in two.” He scuffed one of his big black boots against the sidewalk. “There’s ice down there, ya know. I almost fell, and I don’t have health insurance yet.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes. I want an apology.”
She moved to stand in front of him again. “I’m sorry that I bit you. I’m sorry that I pulled your hair. And I’m sorry if I hurt you, because that’s not what I wanted.” She tipped her head back and stared into his eyes. “And I’m sorry that the longer you’re around me, the more I’ll have to say I’m sorry…because I will hurt you again. I’m sorry Brick and 8-Ball had to leave. I’m sorry you got stuck with me. And I’m sorry that I couldn’t be in this city for more than an hour without fucking everything up again. You have no idea just how sorry I am. But I promise I’ll do everything I can to get Christian to let you go. Now, can we go to the hotel?”
“Wow.” His blue eyes widened as he inhaled a deep breath. “When you Warriors swing…you really go for the fences don’t you? And then that fence, and that one, then the one over there, then you run back to where you started and do it all over again.” He shook his head. “Truthfully, I don’t know how you do it, because I’m getting tired just watching you.”
Toni gave in to the light tugging sensation at the corners of her mouth when Drake started laughing again. Deep and damningly contagious, the rich sound rolled over her in a soothing wave, making the air feel just a little bit warmer, a little less empty.
“I have an idea.” He rubbed his hands together then blew a breath between them. “How ‘bout you pick a mood and stick with it for five minutes, I’ll worry about what I’m getting myself into, and we’ll head to the hotel where they have this great invention called heat.”
She studied him for a minute, watching the steady rise and fall of his chest as he breathed, the way each breath that slipped past his lips became a burst of steam as it mingled with the cold air, and how his tongue darted out every so often to moisten those lips.
Everything about him was human…
And from what she could tell, he didn’t even try. He didn’t stop to concentrate every few minutes. Didn’t appear to give as much as a second thought to the human functions he maintained. He imitated life with perfection, down to the very last detail, as though he’d never lost it.
She bit down hard on the inside of her cheek as jealousy tingled through her again. He was right. She seriously needed to get her emotions under control. She’d already bitten the poor guy once because she’d let the beast get the better of her, the least she could do was pick one fence to swing at. Besides, how much damage could she do to him in less than 24 hours?
About Jennifer Turner
Jennifer Turner lives in Bowling Green, Ohio, with her husband, twelve year old daughter and two cats. She regularly claims one of the aforementioned takes far more work than the others to maintain – but she won’t share which one. She’s the middle child between two brothers, and the favorite child of her parents. Of course, that’s always subject to opinion. Jennifer began her writing career as a self-published romance author, but is now represented by Robert Gottlieb, Chairman of Trident Media Group.
Straight-laced Katarina Renót is well educated, logical and doesn’t believe vampires truly exist. But when a well deserved holiday in Europe turns into a torrid game of cat and mouse with a handsome stranger and her best friend is exhibiting signs of being allergic to daylight-Kat doesn’t think her life can get any stranger.
Every man has a weakness…Even an immortal…
Joseph Markus is an arrogant, wealthy entrepreneur who spends his free time as the raspy lead singer for the rock band “Slang” and seducing beautiful women. After decades of mourning the tragic death of the only woman he ever loved, vying to save his best friend from an unrelenting death wish- now he is accused of being a murderer.
An undeniable twist of fate…
Kat learns her Prince Charming is actually the “Prince of Darkness” and though she can’t resist falling for this sultry vampire, she still lives in denial. But when the lines are drawn, and Kat finds herself caught in the middle of a deadly plot for revenge she has only one choice–trust the seductive vampire who has captured her heart.
Despite his own arrogance, Joe finds himself inexplicably drawn to Kat. Her stubborn will to resist his seductive charms coupled with her endearing naiveté prove to be more than he bargained for and Joe soon realizes he is in way over his head.
But will love be enough to save their immortal souls from the grips of a twisted obsession?
Amazon book listing: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004QWZ850
Amazon U.K book listing: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004QWZ850
Barnes & Noble listing: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Love-Bleeds/Maggie-James/e/2940012187390
Smashwords listing: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/45777
Born and raised in Central New Jersey, Maggie James is a proud ‘Jersey Girl’ who still resides there with her husband of 23 years and their children. Maggie prides herself on being a wildly romantic “Jersey Girl” with a passion for vampires, rock music and romance novels. She successfully combined these 3 elements in “LOVE BLEEDS” her sexy new tantalizing paranormal romance, the first installment in the Only After Dark series. (Book Two coming soon!)
Maggie writes what she loves to read–Sizzling romantic novels containing the dark, mysterious and handsome alpha male and the strong willed, die-hard souled heroine who, despite her better judgement, can’t resist him. Their worlds collide and you can’t help yourself from being swept away into their irresistable world of passion and chivlary; heartbreak and reconciliation.
You can follow Maggie on Facebook, Twitter, Blogger to keep updated on her newest & upcoming releases. Please feel free to leave a comment…Maggie loves to hear from her readers and fans!
Blog link: http://maggiejames-author.blogspot.com/
Marilyn Meredith is the author of nearly thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Dispel the Mist from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, An Axe to Grind is the latest from Oak Tree Press.
She is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Internet chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/
About Lingering Spirit
Nicole Ainsworth’s husband, Steve, has a premonition of his death and moves his family to a mountain community where he serves as a deputy sheriff. He is killed in the line of duty and his wife, Nicole, is left behind to struggle with the changes forced upon her life.
While trying to cope with her grief, raise her two little girls, her husband’s spirit visits her on numerous occasions. She soon learns that someone else is watching over her too.
Read an Excerpt
“You’re going to have to talk to her, Steve,” Nicole said as soon as Steve entered the house. He looked handsome in his crisp khaki Goldfield County deputy’s uniform, but she still liked the navy blue uniform he’d worn as a police officer better. Though she was truly trying, she still considered everything in Southern California far superior, but she tried not to complain too much.
“Who do you want me to talk to?” Steve asked, as he settled his large frame into his place at the dining room table.
Nicole brushed his tan cheek with her lips and patted the top of his golden head. “Sarah, who else? She won’t do anything I tell her. Her room’s a mess. I told her to pick it up, but she won’t do it.”
“She’s only four, after all.”
Nicole put a steaming bowl of stew in front of him. Butter and a partial loaf of sour dough were already on the table.
“Smells wonderful. It’s cold outside. Might get some snow tonight.” He began eating.
With one hand on her hip, Nicole said, “Steve, listen to me. What are you going to do about Sarah?”
“I’ll have a talk with her before I leave. Why don’t you sit down and visit with me while I’m eating?”
Nicole smiled. Moving had made a difference in Steve, he wasn’t so agitated. “What’s going on out there?”
His grin was huge. “Not much. It’s downright boring. Only had one call. Had to get a cow out of the road. Cited a speeder. Talked to Marsh Wilder, he and his wife want us to come to dinner on my day off.”
Wilder was a senior deputy. His wife had been very helpful to Nicole. In the four months since they’d lived in Quail Meadow, one of many small towns in the county, Page had taken her to the best stores, introduced her to the other wives, and organized picnics and various outings for both the families. Their son, though older, attended the same grammar school where Kimberly was enrolled.
“I know. Page called me today. I pointed out it was really their turn to come to dinner here, but she’s having some other people over she wants us to meet.”
Steve buttered another slice of bread. “You’ve told me about Sarah, what’s Kimberly up to? She usually greets me at the door with a hug.”
“Don’t you remember? She’s spending the night with the little girl down the street. That’s part of Sarah’s prob¬lem. She thought she ought to go too, threw a fit when I told her she couldn’t because she wasn’t invited. Haven’t been able to get her to do anything since.”
“Got to admit it, we spoiled the kid.”
“What do you mean ‘we’? You’re the one that always lets her get away with everything.”
Steve lifted his blond eyebrows and shrugged his broad shoulders. “That’s because she looks so much like you, she’s got me wrapped around her little finger, just like you do.”
Nicole couldn’t think of a response. Her husband’s flirtatious teasing had been one of many benefits from the move. Even though they’d taken a drastic cut in pay, the pluses far outweighed the minuses. She smiled and asked, “Do you want some more stew?”
“Love some, but I really don’t have time. I’ll eat what’s left for lunch tomorrow. Bring that little darling on out here while I’m finishing.”
It didn’t look like Sarah had moved since the last time Nicole peeked in her room. Clothes and toys were still scattered everywhere. The tiny girl sat in the middle of one of the twin beds, arms and legs crossed, her lower lip protrud¬ing. Head down, dark curls fell across her eyes.
“Daddy’s home. He wants to talk to you.”
“Don’t wanna talk.”
“Come on, Sarah. Let’s go.”
Stepping carefully to avoid the litter on the multi-colored rug, Nicole snatched her daughter into her arms.
“Put me down!” Legs kicked in the air.
Nicole ignored the kicking and screaming as she carried her daughter into the kitchen. She plopped her into the chair.
“Hey. What’s all the noise about?” Steve asked, lean¬ing toward Sarah.
“What’re you mad about?”
“Kimberly’s spending the night and Mommy won’t let me go.”
“You weren’t invited.”
“I coulda just gone. They wouldn’t care.”
“No, sweetie. That’s not how we do things. Mommy tells me you won’t pick up your toys.”
“Your room is going to be nice and neat when I get home, isn’t it?”
Sarah brushed the curls out of her eyes and stared directly at her father. “No.”
Steve’s cheeks brightened. “If you don’t pick up your toys, Sarah, you’ll have to stay in your room until you do.”
Steve stood. “Yes, you will care. I mean what I say. You’ll be staying in your room tomorrow until you’ve made it nice and neat. I’ve got to go back to work now, how about giving me a hug and kiss.”
“No.” Sarah slid down from the chair. “Go away and never come back.”
As she ran from the room, Steve called after her, “I love you no matter what. I just don’t like it when you won’t mind your mother and me.”
“Sarah.” Nicole started after her.
Grabbing her arm, Steve stopped her. “Let her go. She’ll get over it. Since I didn’t get a hug and kiss from her, how about you?”
Standing on tiptoe, Nicole reached up to kiss him. His arms pulled her close, and he squeezed her so tightly it almost took her breath away.
He parted her lips with his tongue and kissed her passionately. They clung together for several moments making Nicole wish he didn’t have to go back to work.
“I love you,” he said. “Can hardly wait until I get back home tonight. Hope you won’t mind if I wake you.”
“I’ll be looking forward to it.” She winked at him saucily, “Have I ever minded?” Some of their best love making had been when he’d crawled into bed at the end of his shift, waking her with tender caresses.
“That’s my sexy Nicky.” Steve opened the front door, tucking in his rear to avoid the whack Nicole aimed at him.
“You know I don’t like anyone to call me that!”
“You never seem to mind me calling you Nicky when we’re making love,” he teased as he quickly slipped through the door and closed it.
Grinning, Nicole peeked through the front drapes and waved as her husband climbed into the white official sedan he’d parked beside the curb. It was too dark to see much, just the shadowy shapes of the fir and cedar trees around the house. From across the street, came the yellow glow from the neighbor’s windows and smoke curling from their chimney.
That reminded her, it was time to put another log in the wood stove, something she’d certainly never had to do when she lived in Channel Harbor. She waved one last time as Steve drove away.
Letting the drapes fall together, Nicole turned toward the brick hearth that ran the length of the wall. Steve had brought in the evening’s supply of wood before leaving for work. Nicole tended to the fire, still amazed how the small stove heated the entire three bedroom, A-frame house.
Smaller than their home in southern California, their furniture comfortably filled the space. Every window looked out onto a tree filled vista. From their redwood deck outside their kitchen they’d seen raccoons, possums, a skunk, and deer. Even Nicole enjoyed the scenery. It had snowed a few times since they’d lived there, entrancing the children.
Deciding to leave Sarah alone for awhile, Nicole began picking up after her husband’s meal. When the kitchen was spotless, she sat down in her favorite chair near the wood stove.
Thoroughly enjoying her contentment, she realized how much had changed since they’d moved to Quail Meadow. Of course she missed her family and friends. But everyone had traveled the nearly four-hundred miles to visit at least once, and they called regularly. And she’d been warmly welcomed by the other deputies’ wives and the few neighbors.
The cost of living was cheaper, and everything moved at a slower pace in the mountain community. It was almost like they’d stepped a few years back in time. Crime was almost nonexistent. Steve complained good-naturedly about being bored while on duty, but she knew by his drastic change in attitude that the overwhelming dread that had driven him from Channel Harbor had completely disappeared.
The big difference for Nicole was that she was no longer afraid when he worked late hours. The beach communi¬ty they’d come from had all the problems of a big city. Drugs and gang activities had infected the entire area.
The biggest problem she had right now was her youngest daughter. Sighing, she left her comfortable place. “Sarah,” she called, as she headed toward her child’s room.
Nicole was pleasantly surprised when she entered. Nearly all the toys had been put away. Sarah busily shoved books into the bookcase. She smiled brightly at her mother when she entered.
“I did it. Won’t Daddy be happy?”
“Oh, yes. You’ve done a wonderful job.” Nicole held her arms out to. “Come give me a hug.”
Sarah scampered across the floor and threw herself into her mother’s arms. She squeezed tightly, reminding Nicole of Steve’s breathtaking hugs. Though she didn’t like to admit it, Sarah resembled Nicole in more than just looks. She remembered spankings she could have avoided as a child, if she hadn’t been so stubborn and always done what her mother or father asked of her.
“Oh, sweetie, why didn’t you just do this in the first place instead of making all of us angry?”
Sarah pulled away from her mother. “‘Cause I didn’t wanna.”
“I know sweetie, but life would be so much easier if you’d do what you’re told.”
The lower lip came out. “I cleaned my room. Don’t you like it?”
“Yes, I do.” She knew it wasn’t worth the effort to try and explain any further. “Why don’t we make some pop¬corn and see if there’s anything good on TV?”
* * *
Was that the doorbell? Nicole raised herself on her elbow and squinted at the illuminated numerals on the clock. It was after three. She must have been dreaming.
She was about to snuggle under the covers, when she heard it again. It was the doorbell, followed by the sound of knocking.
Leaping from the bed, Nicole yanked a housecoat from the closet and ran down the stairs, her heart beating wildly.
About George Earl Parker
George Earl Parker is an author, singer/songwriter, and artist. As designer and director of the short film “Yellow Submarine Sandwich,” included in Eric Idle’s pseudo-documentary of a band called the Rutles, Parker received accolades, awards, and a showing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
His art has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the country, and three of his songs have shown up on the European Country Music Association charts.
Vampyre Blood-Eight Pints of Trouble is his first novel. He currently lives in California where he is working on his music and his second book. You can visit his website at www.georgeearlparker.com.
Latest news! Listen to George Earl Parker’s latest country hit,
Out of the Fire here!
About Vampyre Blood – Eight Pints of Trouble
When young New Orleans lawyer Bradley Harrington Chester III lies dying in the street after being hit by a speeding car, it seems that his life is over. But as his spirit drifts away toward a distant light, he is approached by an exotic fellow who claims to be both the Count Dracula of legend, and a violin player for The Techno Zombies, a Goth rock band on a world tour.
The Count explains that with the aid of a wizard he has abandoned his dark legacy, and now finds himself in need of a legal representative. So he offers Brad a deal–Brad can shuffle off into the light wherever it may lead, or he can become his lawyer, and be revived by a transfusion of Vampyre Blood.
The very last thing the young lawyer remembers before dying was his wife asking for a divorce, and prior to that he remembered being handed the prosecution of a mafia kingpin on his first day at the district attorney’s office. He wondered why the DA was so friendly to him, and so nasty to his star attorney Richard Bleddon, and he wondered why Bleddon had arranged a champagne supper at a fancy restaurant for him and his wife. After which, a speedy midget had snatched his wife’s purse and led him out into the street to die.
Impatiently, the Count presses for an answer to his offer, and after being assured that he will not become a Vampyre himself, Brad accepts, hoping to return and make sense of the madness that brought him to the brink of death. Populated by loveable rogues, scheming lawyers, and thieving gypsies, Vampyre Blood-Eight-Pints of Trouble is an insane romp through New Orleans, illustrating the intensity of our human desire to get what we want at any cost, and the strange places that desire can lead to.
Read the Excerpt!
“She lives to enchant,” he murmured. “She is a temptress, sometimes cold and sometimes hot, but always alluring.”
Her radiance had beguiled him for centuries: what would it be like if he fell under her spell? What dreams awaited him? What nightmares? What adventures?
The wind whispered through the trees urging him on, while a stab of doubt struck him in the chest with such force he couldn’t move. What if his miraculous cure was a lie? Stepping into a beam of full sunlight was instant death to a vampyre. It vexed him mightily to hesitate, for hesitation was not his strongest suit.
“There shall be one death here today,” he told the breeze. “One way or another, I shall be reduced to dust, or I shall die to myself and be reborn.”
Mere steps away, rays of sunlight spilled through the leafy canopy, and danced seductively on the forest floor.
It’s now or never, he thought. For if there was one thing he’d gleaned from centuries of nocturnal meditation, it was that a step in any new direction required trust. Trust was the key to all metamorphosis.
His constitution steeled, he flexed his muscles to move, and a spine-chilling roar screamed out of nowhere, followed by blinding flashes of light.
He was perplexed. Was this some evil necromancy designed to staunch his flow into the future? Or was it a warning, that hideous beasts would tear him limb from limb if he dared try?
It was a conundrum of epic proportions. But in the vast complexity of it all he was reminded of his lineage: he was a nobleman, a lord. His bloodline would not allow him to vacillate; he made decisions and adhered to them for good or bad.
As the sands ran out for hesitation he gathered up his fear, turned its power to courage, and stepped into the light.
It had been forever since he’d stood inside a sunbeam, and this wasn’t just one, this was a thousand of them crisscrossed in every direction over his path. The wind breathed a sigh of relief, and the leaves shook and chattered wildly, as rays of sunlight jiggled, danced, splashed and played all around him.
He had been absolutely incapable of emotion for as long as he could remember, but instantly he found himself surfing the tunnel of a tidal wave that emanated from deep in his beleaguered soul. He shook like an erupting volcano, shed tears like a raging waterfall, and his ears ached from the pure unmitigated joy that pounded out of his heart.
It had worked! Nothing could stop him now; he was free, free to do as he pleased
The maddening roar of beasts had grown to a stampede, and their growling and snarling was drowning his thoughts. Leaving the pool of light, he moved toward the source of the sound. He gazed one way and the other along a living green wall, as if a huge pair of clippers had trimmed the forest like a massive hedge, as far as the eye could see.
He reached out, parted some leaves, and gazed at a gooey, oozy, gray mess of motion that confounded him beyond belief. Is this more spell binding? He wondered, then it dawned on him, the tears of joy he had shed so abundantly were obscuring his vision. Blinking them away, he gazed curiously upon a scene he had no words in his mind to describe.
Huge metal beasts of all shapes and sizes roared by on round rubber legs. No, no, no, he told himself, they’re not legs, they’re wheels! It was true, they were wheels, but they moved ten times faster than those on any horse-drawn carriage.
What on earth had happened? Overnight he had changed, and inexplicably the world around him had also changed. It was a profound mystery, but one he would have to solve later, because just yesterday evening he had made a promise to Igor that he would start afresh in a land called America, and a gentleman never breaks a promise.
Here’s what reviewers have to say!
Well, it is. It’s got a very interesting plot will all sorts of different characters juxtaposed for the readers’ pleasure. Parker skillfully develops the characters to the point that it is possible to “know” them. This book is a wild and crazy ride that I do recommend to anyone interested in the ride.
–Obsession with Reading (read full review)
Although it’s a vampire book, it’s not overwhelmingly dark. It focuses more on people and criminals and lawyers and gangs made up of midget Romanian gypsies than vampires, however you get enough of the Count for your fill of the paranormal. Do you love Vamps? Do you love light wit and sarcastic humor? Do you love Lawyer jokes? Vampyre Blood is for you.
– The Life and Lies of an Inanimate Flying Object (read full review)
I highly recommend this book. It’s perfect for summer at the beach. Just be ready for weird looks when you find yourself laughing out loud while reading it.
– This Book for Free (read full review)
Get the book and enjoy the ride through New Orleans with Count Dracula and all of the other crazy characters in the book.
—Books R Us (read full review)
It’s a fun romp that readers are sure to remember….
– Readaholic (read full review)
From the mystical aspect to the espionage, to hired hit men and back handed dealings, there is a little something for everyone genre wise in this book.
–Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers (read full review)
This book was very much a mystery to me as I read it. Most books you can make a pretty accurate guess at what is going to happen, this book left you very much on the edge as you get to follow through with this part of his life. For those who are mystery/suspense or even Medical Suspense this book would be perfect for you.. A very good quick read book. Well put together.
–Star Shadow (read rest of review here)
Its humor will brighten any day and its perspective will lighten your heart. It’s silly, it’s endearing, it’s very human, and it will make you laugh out loud.
–Simply Stacie (read rest of review here)
This is so totally NOT your everyday Dracula book! In fact in this humerous rendition, Dracula wants to end his evil ways and be a “good” guy!
–Jen’s Book Talk (read rest of review here)
…what you think is a vampire story is more of a look at life lessons and the inherent nature of human beings. (As I do agree with Ricky Pittman, who is quoted on the back of the book) I enjoyed this one very much and think that it can appeal to a wide audience.
–The Cajun Book Lady (read rest of review here)
Amanda Thorne is an embattled clairvoyant, who refuses to believe in God or the afterlife, even when the ghost of her murdered husband confronts her from his grave. More ghosts confront her when she finds herself stranded in a tiny town in Arizona.
Two of them mistake her for a prominent woman who was murdered 79 years ago. One of them wants to avenge him for the murder, and the other wants to kill her all over again. She and her misplaced deputy friend must uncover the truth about the murder before history repeats itself.
“I know. You put me here.”
Amanda Thorne gazed at her dead husband, who stood five feet in front of her, his head and face perfectly intact when they shouldn’t have been. She had gone to the funeral home to view his body. He had no business standing here, in front of his grave, accusing her of killing him.
“You’re not going to get away with this!” Joel’s eyes darkened as the familiar rage grew inside of him. “You should be here, not me.”
“I didn’t do this,” Amanda said in a tight whisper. “You did this to yourself!”
He punched her square in the chest, sending her sprawling across the wet grass. “You sent him after me, you lying, sneaking, conniving bitch.”
Joel stood over her. “I’m going to get you,” he promised her.
Amanda stared at the overcast sky, Joel and his punch an instant memory. She pulled herself up, aware of her bare feet and her silk pajamas. A middle–aged police officer stood on the road that separated the section where Joel’s grave lay from another section of the cemetery.
“What are you doing here?” he said, as he appraised her with bloodshot eyes. He had caught her in here at least an hour before the cemetery opened to the public.
“I don’t know,” she said hazily. The last thing she remembered was going to bed, but her house was four miles away. “I don’t know how I got here.”
“You look familiar to me.”
Amanda shrugged her shoulders. She looked past him, and then to her left, towards the cemetery’s entrance.
“What’s your name?”
The officer turned to his side so he could see what she was looking at, and to keep an eye on her.
“What are you looking for?”
“My car. I don’t see it.” She hugged herself against a sudden cold gust of wind. Did I walk all the way out here?
“Where do you live?”
“The Garden Apartments. Do you know where that is?”
“Yeah. How did you get here, if you didn’t drive?” The officer was intrigued.
Amanda cleared her throat. “I think I walked. I woke up in here.”
“Ho! No, shit? That’s a pretty long way to sleepwalk, Mrs. Thorne.” He stared at her as though he were still trying to place her.
She didn’t recognize him, although she had had many interviews with the San Jose Police detectives, both before and after Joel had died. He was just another uniform, as far as she was concerned. “Will you take me to Valley Med? I think I’m having a reaction to my prescription.”
“I don’t think that’s the cause of this.” The cop walked past her and up to Joel’s grave.
Amanda let her gaze wander around the cemetery. Monterey Highway was visible from her vantage point, allowing her to watch the beginning of the morning commute.
“What?” She looked over her shoulder at the cop.
“Are you taking me to the hospital or to jail?”
“I’m taking you home.”
Amanda walked with him to the entrance. The chapel sat on the left side of the gate. She couldn’t figure out if it was an English or Dutch style building. The walls were painted an ugly cream color, mottled with dark brown stones.
It had stained–glass windows and a stone chimney. The roof matched the stone insets, but it didn’t look like any roof she had seen in San Jose. It looked like someone had draped a wet, scaly skin over the top of the building, and left it there to dry. The eaves curled inward, giving the impression that she was looking at a fat toadstool.
She knew what it was, a chapel and a mortuary. Joel’s casket had sat inside that chapel. His father and sister were the only family who had attended the funeral. The rest of his family stood by his mother’s “deathbed,” making sure she didn’t OD on martinis and Valium. ‘I just couldn’t bear the thought of burying my Joely,’ she would later tell Amanda.
“You okay?” the cop said, shattering her reverie when he laid his hand on her shoulder.
“I’m sorry.” Amanda gave him an apologetic smile when she realized that she had stopped to stare at that awful building. The wind was picking up again, carrying the spray of the water fountain with it. She clutched at her pajama top in vain.
“You want my jacket?”
The cruiser sat next to the curb, its yellow lights flashing. Amanda walked alongside the cop, grateful that she wasn’t wearing handcuffs for the world to see. It was bad enough to be walking around in her pajamas and bare feet.
“Do you have anybody you can talk to?” Moreno asked with sincerity.
“Yes,” Amanda lied. Joel had alienated her friends, but his murder had chased them away for good. She had no one but her psychiatrist, who was more interested in doping her up with Paxil than listening to her.
This experience was a fluke, she told herself. It won’t happen again.
Moreno sat her in the front seat of his cruiser as another cruiser pulled up behind him. Amanda turned around in her seat after he closed the door, and watched the two cops meet on the sidewalk. They began talking about her in hushed tones.
A lot of people had talked about her after the murder. Few had approached her with direct questions, or to ask her how she was “holding up.” As far as everyone was concerned, she had killed her husband. Five months later, the police were still watching her and waiting for her to confess to the killing.
Amanda turned away from the officers, who were laughing at some private joke. She couldn’t remember the last time she had laughed or smiled. It had been a long time.
Without warning, the radio belched out static. Then a female voice uttered some cop code, followed by plain English. A shooting had occurred in the Capitol and Quimby area, which was nothing new. Most likely, it was gang–related. Amanda tuned out the radio and looked at the cops through the side view mirror.
They were still talking.
“Open the glove box.”
Amanda’s eyes widened at the urgent whisper of a male voice. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a jean–clad leg. Someone was sitting next to her, and it wasn’t Moreno. It was a Mexican gang–banger, with a ragged bullet hole in the side of his neck.
“Come on, bitch! Open the fuckin’ glove box before he comes back! I don’t want him to see me like this.”
Amanda gaped at the kid’s neck. “What?”
Before he could answer, the driver’s side door opened. “You okay in there?” the cop said, hesitant about getting in the front seat with her.
“Could you take me to Valley Med, please? I’m hallucinating.”